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Untapped market for plus-size resale leads to three stores for HIPS Boutique

When Vikki Stoddart discovered that resale shops for plus size women were virtually non-existent, she decided to launch a business that since has uncovered an eager customer base.

After working in marketing and advertising, Stoddart, a Ferndale resident, opened her first HIPS Resale Boutique store four years ago at 10 S. Main St. in downtown Clawson. By October 2012, she added a second location on busy Gratiot Avenue in Roseville. At 2,000 square feet, it was double the size of her Clawson store.

It wasn't long after opening in Roseville that Stoddart began looking for a location for a third store. She needed to keep up with demand from an untapped market looking for quality, stylish clothing in sizes 12 and larger, especially sizes 18-24. She found her next store in downtown Detroit, where she had hoped to "be a part of the renaissance of the city."

On Monday, March 30, the newest HIPS Resale Boutique opens in the Penobscot Building, a landmark Detroit skyscraper on Griswold Street. It will join other retailers as part of the Shops at Penobscot. A VIP celebration is planned for Friday, March 27.

Like other HIPS shops, the 1,200-square-foot Detroit store will sell clothing sizes 12 up to 6X and 7X, as well as handbags, jewelry and accessories for women of any size.

"We are so excited," says Stoddart. "The building itself is so amazing. We spent 30 hours scraping the floors, using five gallons of vinegar and scraping the glue left from the carpet we ripped up. Underneath is amazing white tile. It's just beautiful."

Stoddart realized there was a lack of plus size resale options after she and a friend began looking for a place to sell new, unworn, and lovely things that belonged to her friend.

"[Resale shops] definitely were not interested in the sizes I had, which were 2X and 3X," she says. "I did research and thought, 'How is this possible?' The average size of a woman in the USA is 14 and there is nothing out there for them."
 
About a year ago, HIPS opened an online store. "We began getting requests from out of state and from customers who had moved away and had nothing like this where they were living."

The online store, like the physical stores, is thriving, she says.

"There is absolutely a demand for this. Being a plus-sized woman, the options you have are already very limited, and the options you do have are expensive and overpriced."

Source: Vikki Stoddart, owner, HIPS Resale Boutique
Writer: Kim North Shine

Dowtown Mount Clemens church hopes to serve community with new coffee business

The Well, a downtown Mount Clemens church, is opening a coffee shop that will be part business and part spiritual mission.

Ricardo Arredondo, pastor of The Well, expects More Than Coffee to open Friday, March 12 at 42 Pine St.

"[The coffee shop will] let us meet the people where they are as opposed to trying to get them to come to us," says Arrendondo.

In addition to serving quality, locally roasted coffee, the shop will be a place to worship; there's an area in the back where The Well has held services for months. The shop will also provide homeless people with job training in service industry positions.

More Than Coffee takes the place of Che Cosa, a coffee shop and lunch spot that moved to Clinton Township several months ago. The new shop will feature a rotating variety of local roasts. The first will be Great Lakes Coffee from Detroit. Anthology Coffee in Detroit and Dessert Oasis Coffee in Rochester will be in the initial line-up as well.

"The interesting thing about downtown Mount Clemens is there's so much diversity," says Arredondo, who spends Thursday nights on downtown streets and sidewalks reaching out to homeless locals.

"You have lawyers who have offices downtown. You have people coming in for jury duty, people coming in for court. You have people that are coming for the Oakland University center downtown. You have moms dropping their kids off at school who may want to stop in for a coffee. You have people coming in who want coffee, Wi-Fi and to work.

No matter where the customers come from, Arredondo wants them to have great coffee whether being part of greater mission or the church is important to them.

"Really, we're not trying to say, 'Hey! We're a church.' We're trying to say, 'Hey! We have this vision to just serve people coffee while we help people at the same time."

Source: Richard Arredondo, pastor, The Well, and operator of More Than Coffee
Writer: Kim North Shine

 

Meza bringing Mexican food to downtown Royal Oak

Two metro Detroit restaurant veterans are teaming up to open a new Mexican restaurant in downtown Royal Oak.

Michael Sophiea and Darrel Krause are partners in Meza, a Mexican restaurant, at 312 South Main St.

After renovations, the 3,000-square-foot restaurant will feature 148 seats, including 16 bar stools and outdoor seating for 24. Demolition has already begun.

Besides a restaurant and bar, Meza will feature live entertainment including bands and DJs.

Sophiea has owned and managed Oak Grill in Royal Oak and also was previous owner of two bars, Rumors and Local 212. Krause's restaurant resume includes Duggan's Irish Pub, Woody's Diner, Lakeview Grille in Oxford, and Post Bar in Novi,

Together they own and operate Ciccarelli's sports bars in Auburn Hills and Detroit.

Source: city of Royal Oak
Writer: Kim North Shine

Barbecue joint adds to downtown Wyandotte's restaurant options this summer

Downtown Wyandotte's main street is getting a new barbecue restaurant this summer in ALVI's BBQ.

"Our focus will be on rustic-themed, down-home southern barbecue," says ALVI's owner Al Fritz.

The downtown space at 3233 Biddle Ave. will be restored to its original 1921 condition, he says. There will be a mix of family-style tables and tables for four and two. An outdoor dining area is also planned as the city works to increase the number of establishments with sidewalk dining.

The facade for Alvi's is undergoing a complete overhaul as renovations for the dining room and kitchen, which will turn out ribs, pulled pork, brisket, chicken, sausage, wings and catfish.

Source: Natalie Rankine, director, Wyandotte Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Shuttered Sears store in downtown Wyandotte to become lofts, shops and more

The demolition of a former Sears & Roebuck department store will clear the way for a $5.3 million development of loft apartments, restaurants, retail, and commercial space in downtown Wyandotte.

The neighboring Sears auto repair garage is part of the Roebuck Residential project, which calls for the renovation of the three-story structure at 3061 Biddle Ave. and new construction of a four-story building next door at 3063 Biddle, Wyandotte's main street. Completion is expected by early 2016.

The renovation of the existing three-story building will bring about a 9,600-square-foot first floor to be occupied by a restaurant and other commercial businesses retailers. The second floor of the same square footage will become office space for two tenants, and the third floor, also 9,600 square feet, will be converted into nine loft-style apartments (six one-bedroom units and three two-bedroom units) with access to an open air rooftop terrace. The basement and mezzanine levels of the building will be renovated into storage space and common areas.

A newly constructed four-story building next door will rise in place of demolished department store and will contain an entrance lobby, stairwell, and elevator for the larger mixed-use building next door.

The project has been in the works since 2012 when the DDA purchased the property for $530,000. Since then, storage tanks have been removed from the site and other environmental preparations have been made. The development is expected to be create 56 jobs.

Developer Joe Daly bought the property from the DDA in 2014 for $350,000. Since then, the city of Wyadotte, the DDA, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation have chipped in tax abatements, grants, and other financial assistance worth nearly $3 million as the parties worked together to transform the long-vacant site into an economically viable part of downtown.

Source: Natalie Rankine, Downtown Development Director, city of Wyandotte
Writer: Kim North Shine

Golf year-round at new downtown Birmingham business

Golf pro Bob Krause has turned a downtown Birmingham office space into a year-round place to learn and practice golf.

4-Seasons Golf, a members-only club inside Suite 21U inside the shorter of the two buildings at 555 South Old Woodward, is outfitted with two indoor golf simulators and three practice bays, one of which will be used for private lessons.

The business is in soft-opening mode after an open house last week that welcomed prospective members.

"We've had great feedback and we're signing up members now. We want to take our time so we can give members the best service possible," says Stephanie Krause, Bob's wife and acting general manager.

"It's a very unique business model," she says. "There's nothing else like it here."

The company's market is all golfers, especially those who can't go south to play during the winter and those who want something other than public golf domes and sports bar simulators to practice in the off-season.

"Golf is an important game to play all year long if you want to keep up your game," says Krause.

The 4,000-square-foot facility was renovated to give it a country club feel, including a pro shop, lockers, changing area, liquor lockers, and other amenities for members. Members can entertain guests for an additional fee or can play against fellow members on the simulators, which are in comfortably furnished rooms and offer a choice of 30 courses.

The practice bays are connected to a software that analyzes every ball hit into nets covering the ceilings.

Private lessons for members and non-members are available, and the entire space can be rented for special events and parties.

Source: Stephanie Krause, acting general manager, 4-Seasons Golf
Writer: Kim North Shine

Micro-creamery concept coming to downtown Northville


The owner of Stuart's Ice Cream & Yogurt, a favorite seasonal ice cream and yogurt shop in Novi, is taking on a partner, expanding to a second location, and embarking on a whole new concept with the opening of a micro-creamery in downtown Northville.

Browndog Creamery & Dessert Bar has been in soft opening mode since Feb. 14, churning out classic and unusual flavors using Michigan-sourced milk and other local products. A grand opening of the business at 118 E. Main St. is set for March 6.

Browndog shares a space with longtime Northville candy shop Chocolates by Renee. Browndog will operate from a renovated space, making small batches of fresh ice cream and desserts year-round with ingredients grown or produced in Michigan whenever possible, says owner Paul Gabriel.

The Michigan focus will carry over to the sale of other products, including Michigan-made coffee and other beverages like Faygo, Nikki's Ginger Tea, and Boxed Water.

Gabriel and partner Brian Scherle, the owner of Stuart's Ice Cream & Yogurt in Novi, say Browndog is Northville's only micro-creamery and will complement the 20-plus restaurants and food shops located downtown.

"Stuart's is named after our first rescue dog," says Gabriel. "Browndog is named after our second rescue dog, Flash. He's brown." More of their story can be found on their new website.

The owners support animal rescue organizations through donations of part of their profits. It's not unusual to see the dogs at the shops. They will both be on hand at the March 6 grand opening.

"We are thrilled to welcome Browndog Creamery & Dessert Bar to our collection of unique eateries in downtown Northville," says Lori Ward, director of the Northville Downtown Development Authority. "Their menu and mission is the perfect complement to the downtown's family of businesses."

Source: Paul Gabriel, owner, Browndog Creamery & Dessert Bar and Jeanne Micallef, IMJ Communications
Writer: Kim North Shine

Dearborn's first microbrewery on schedule for May opening

Dearborn is a few months away from having a microbrewery of its own.

Dearborn Brewing could open by May, says John Rucinski, who along with his wife Sheila Rucinski is renovating a 2,500-square-foot space at 21930 Michigan Ave. in downtown west Dearborn.

Three brewing kettles will be on display in the brewery's storefront windows, visible to passersby. They will be part of a system that includes four fermenters and has the capacity to brew four styles of beer at a time. Six varieties will be on tap.

Beer lover Rucinski began home brewing about 15 years ago. Like so many craft beer brewers, he heard repeatedly from friends and family that he should sell his suds. After years of resisting, he decided Dearborn was the right market.

"There are a couple of jokes going around about why I decided to do it," Rucinski says. "My friends say I got tired of waiting for one to open in Dearborn. My common defense is temporary insanity."

In truth, however, the decision made good business sense. "We looked around saw that this is the right market," says Rucinski, an analyst and project manager for Nissan North America.

Construction and licensing is taking longer than hoped, but Rucinski is patient. "It's coming along," he says. The plan calls for a short bar and open area with 26 seats. If the demand is there, the space has room for a much longer bar on an adjacent wall and capacity for 79 seats.

Dearborn Brewing won't have a kitchen but will offer light snacks and encourage ordering takeout or delivery from nearby restaurants, including one right next door.

The interior design will be a take on a black and tan -- half stout, half lager -- swirling the length of the bar.

Source: John Rucinski, founder Dearborn Brewing
Writer: Kim North Shine

Historic downtown Plymouth post office could be reborn as Westborn Market


The 1930s-era post office in downtown Plymouth, sold in 2013, could become the next location for metro Detroit-based Westborn Market.

The project hinges on whether city officials approve a request to add parking spaces and grant other variances for the property adjoining the post office, an 11,000-square-foot structure that would be renovated with most historical details intact.

Downtown merchants and local preservationists see the project as a meeting of economic progress and historic rehabilitation.

Westborn Market, a 50-year-old family-owned business known for its fresh produce, is seen as a gourmet alternative to mainstream grocers. The company currently has locations in Livonia, Berkley, and Dearborn. The former Pursell Station at 760 Penniman St. in Plymouth would be renovated to become Westborn's fourth market.

The Malcolm family of Plymouth, known for their passion for historic preservation and downtown revitalization, purchased the post office and bargained a lease agreement with Westborn's owners, the Anusbigian family. The city will decide whether to grant the project's special requests at a meeting on March 5. Without approval, the project, which will create jobs and become a day and night traffic generator for downtown, would not be viable.

In their application to be reviewed at the meeting, the Malcolms say, "In addition to providing excellent new products and services for our community, Westborn is expected to provide a significant economic multiplier value and benefit for the general downtown area in the form of attracting customers throughout the day."

Source: city of Plymouth
Writer: Kim North Shine

B. Nektar Meadery to open a new tasting room in Ferndale

B. Nektar Meadery in Ferndale is expanding its tasting room, adding a whole new location in a second building not far from its production facility.

The meadery, which was founded in 2006 by friends and home brewers Brad Dahlhofer and Paul Zimmerman and Brad's wife Kerri, opened its doors for business in 2008. Demand for its mead, cider, and beer has increased yearly, and its tasting room, which is basically a tight space squeezed into the production area and its unfinished surroundings, has become popular with customers who want to have a mead together on site.

Construction is underway on the new and proper tap room, a 1,760-square-feet space that is expected to open in July. The new tasting room will have a hand-built 10-seat bar made of reclaimed and up-cycled barrel and pallet wood, as well as a kitchen to serve food.

When it opens, the production facility will be dedicated to brewing as the owners continue to expand their award-winning brews to other outlets and states.

Source: Brad Dahlhofer, co-founder B. Nektar Meadery
Writer: Kim North Shine

Metro Detroit-owned ZIM's Vodka headed to out of state shelves

ZIM's Vodka, an award-winning potato vodka, created in metro Detroit and made in Poland, is expanding sales outside of Michigan.

As of January ZIM's, a gluten-free vodka made with Polish-grown potatoes in a 250-year-old Polish distillery using a recipe based on research conducted there, went on sell in Pennsylvania. In March, it goes on shelves in Illinois. Several other states are expected to follow.

The 2-year-old company founded by Grosse Pointer Terry Olson and run from offices in Warren is sold in more than 600 outlets across Michigan, top restaurants among them.

Throughout its existence the vodkas, an 81 proof and a 59 proof, have won awards and accolades around the world. Olson says ZIM's success shows it is more than a craft liquor "flash in the pan."

"We are really a Michigan owned and based spirits import company called The Rebel Spirits Group, LLC that makes traditional vodka products in Poland, the motherland of vodka," says Olson. "Unlike most, we import our own products back into the United States. We do not chase trends or fads which is why we never planned to deliver flavored vodkas, which are crashing and burning. We don’t do browns - whiskey, rye, bourbon, which is the latest trend. Even some brown makers are moving into flavors. Be careful and learn from the vodka flavor dotcom collapse."

Olson seems intent on skipping the gimmicks that currently accompany the craft distillery movement, choosing instead to let the product speak for itself.

"We don’t have a bar, restaurant or tasting room. We have six -pack cases of our internationally award winning vodkas. We continue to stick to our knitting by delivering a vodka that is coined the smoothest vodka on the planet." 

Source: Terry Olson, founder, ZIM's vodka
Writer: Kim North Shine

 

Former Northville psych hospital to become massive commercial/public use space

After years of sitting dark and quiet, wasting way, the former psychiatric hospital property in Northville Township is undergoing changes that are part of a lively economic redevelopment that turns the 400-acre site into a walkable, shoppable, eatable, hang-outable, job-creatable project.

Part of the project at 7 Mile and Haggerty roads, known as Northville Park Place, covers about 82 acres, and is being developed by Livonia-based Schostak and its Team Schostak Family Restaurants. A large portion is a public park, walking trails and other amenities that will give visitors a variety of things to do and also connect some locals to their neighborhoods via a trail system. The main hospital and other buildings have yet to be demolished, but the development is proceeding.

As the retail and commercial portion of the project enters phase 2, several restaurants and retailers have signed leases to open. They include Tom + Chee, a specialty grilled cheese restaurant; Mediterranean eatery, Red Olive, North Dakota-based Granite City, Seattle-based MOD Pizza, BurgerFi, Chipotle, Jimmy John's are signed leases previously.

Several stores are also signed on. Phase 1 was the 100,000-square-foot University of Michigan Northville Health Center.

The final phase will be the public space that will also feature water falls, a pond, bike trails and outdoor seating.

The re-use of the land was a source of debate for years in the township as several plans and promises were made and broken and red tape for the former state-owned property dragged out a re-use of the prominent piece of land.

Source: Jennifer Frey, director of community development, Northville Township
Writer: Kim North Shine

Cardiologist, successful chef and author behind GreenSpace Cafe in Ferndale

Construction and hiring are underway for a downtown Ferndale restaurant that plans to offer a menu that pleases the palate without hindering good health.

GreenSpace Cafe is expected to open in March at 215 W. 9 Mile Road.

The cafe is the brainchild of restaurateur Daniel Kahn, cardiologist and heart health author, Dr. Joel Kahn. George Vutetakis, chef, healthy eating author and former proprietor of the long successful Inn Season vegetarian restaurant in Royal Oak is developing the menu, which will be plant based and oil free. He is known as the Vegetarian Guy and is director of product research and development at Ferndale-based Garden Fresh Gourmet. Dr. Kahn is a vegan and author of books about the benefits and implementation of plant-based eating.

The 1,700-square-foot restaurant will seat about 60 inside and about 40 on an expanded patio. The renovations are transforming the space that was Maria's Fine Italian Dining into a relaxed, rustic style eatery in the heart of downtown.

Daniel Kahn hopes not only to attract vegetarians and vegans who don't limited quality options for dining out in metro Detroit as well as meat eaters who may be looking to improve the way they eat and discover a plant-based diet does not equal deprivation.

Source: Daniel Kahn, owner, GreenSpace Cafe
Writer: Kim North Shine

Pet spa and boutique caters to pet lovers in downtown Plymouth

A new pet spa and boutique celebrated its grand opening in downtown Plymouth

Britt's Bow Wow Boutique & Spa at 550 Forest Ave. also provides doggie day care, and since it's official opening a few months the furry clientele has continued to build.

The new business moved into a closed yarn shop after major renovations were completed to add tubs, showers, grooming areas and retail space.

It is located in the Westchester Square shopping and office development and is next door, ideally, to Three Dog Bakery.

Source: Plymouth Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Juice Bar business added to fitness studio in downtown Ferndale

The owners of two health-and-fitness focused businesses are operating under one roof in downtown Ferndale as a way to tap into one another's clients by offering them more products and services.

The grand opening of Pure Juice Bar & Cafe is being celebrated this Friday. It shares its space at 23440 Woodward Ave. with TV Fitness, a workout studio that offers personal training and trainer-assisted workouts with popular TV and DVD exercise routines.

Pure Juice Bar & Cafe serves fresh juices, smoothies, fruits, vegetables and light meals in the cafe or for takeaway. It also is a source for drinks and education for clients on cleanses.

Its counter with bar stools and a small seating area with tables and chairs take up part of the lobby at TV Fitness, which has a gym and workout space behind glass partition off the lobby.

TV Fitness owners and brothers Ryan and Earl Carruthers see the two businesses as natural complements.Friday's grand opening will double as a health expo with TV Fitness hosting an open house while Pure Juice cuts the ribbon on its business opening.

Source: Ryan and Earl Carruthers
Writer: Kim North Shine
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