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Battery Giant energizes Midtown, sparks creation of four job

Bob Cavin feels empowered.
 
As part of re-energizing his career, he and his spouse Fonda Turner-Cavin opened the doors to Battery Giant in early October—the first franchise outlet in Greater Lansing for the Michigan-based provider of energy products. What's more, the franchise is among the first tenants in MidTown—the Gillespie Group's new mixed-used development at 1306 Michigan Ave. in East Lansing.
 
"We want to become a household name," says Cavin. "And be a place where people and companies can shop for batteries right here in their own community."
 
Battery Giant packs more than 4,000 battery products into a single store, and is stocked through the Madison Heights-based parent company. What Cavin doesn't have on his shelves, he can access from the vast inventory of more than 14,000 types of batteries and battery systems available through Battery Giant fulfillment centers nationwide.
 
The store provides everything from everyday batteries to the most innovative, cost-effective solutions on the market, and serves individuals, companies and businesses.
 
"Our main market are specialized products you can't find at WalMart or other stores," says Cavin. "We tell our customers, save yourself an hour looking around at other stores. Just come to us. We'll have it."
 
Common products include batteries for cars, marine craft, RVs, snowmobiles, lawn equipment and motorcycles, as well as batteries for watches, remotes, electronic gadgets, cell phones, computers, cameras and toys. Customers can also find battery back-up systems for home or commercial use. All told, Battery Giant stocks replacement batteries, OEM battery products and battery systems for more than 100,000 devices and applications, with the majority of products made in the U.S.
 
Corporate downsizing led Cavin to explore owning and operating his own franchise. The consulting group FranNet introduced the experienced corporate executive to leadership at Battery Giant. In less than a year, Cavin was laying out plans to open his first store.
 
Cavin's 1,600-square foot shop includes spaces for retail, battery recycling and a training and tech center. The new store created four jobs, and Cavin hopes to bring more on board in other locations as the franchise expands across Greater Lansing.
 
"We're big on being part of the community," says Cavin. "We plan to sponsor sports teams, support community initiatives and be active members of various Chambers. We care about the community. That's our motto."
 
Source: Bob Cavin, Managing Partner, Battery Giant
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Bella Soaps and Lotions vends handmade products through Lansing City Market

Janet Riffel Ozanich is the 'J' part of L and J Sales. Her husband Larry is the 'L' part. Together, they offer a selection of quality handmade soaps and other good smelling stuff at their small stand in the Lansing City Market.
 
Bella Soaps and Lotions of L and J Sales is owned and operated by a husband-wife team who makes and sells quality health and beauty products in Greater Lansing. The two cut the ribbon on the retail space in late August and have already built a local following for the soaps, lotions, shampoos, conditioners and essential oils offered through their 11-foot by 11-foot space.
 
"Even though the space is small, we carry a lot," says Ozanich. "And if I don't have something in stock that you want, chances are I can make it and have it to you by the next day."
 
Ozanich makes the majority of her products at home. Her products, she says, contain natural ingredients that consist of mixtures of glycerin, palm oils and coconut oils. Her soaps include goats milk, coconut milk, honey, olive and aloe, buttermilk, oatmeal, hemp and a special bar beloved by mechanics that "gets the grease off."
 
"Instead of getting a commercial degreaser, they get this," says Ozanich. "They say it gets the job done."
 
Ozanich also blends a line of lotions scented for the season. For the fall, she's offering autumn harvest, apple and acorn, purely perfect pumpkin, hotbaked apple pie and cinnamon. She also carries a year-long line of mint-scented lotions including peppermint, lavender, patchouli, lavender and spearmint.
 
"I have a list of scents that keeps growing and growing," says Ozanich.
 
Customers will also find crystal bracelets, soy candles, essential oils from Young Living, a selection of J.R. Watkins products and SNAFU greeting cards. Gift buyers will enjoy the convenience of her "grab and go" or customized baskets for special occasions.
 
"I'm as good as any commercial soap and lotion store," says Ozanich. "And we try to give people a good price because we're all trying to stretch our dollars right now."
 
Source: Janet Riffel Ozanich, Owner, L&J Sales/Bella Soaps and Lotions
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Daily Bagel expands to Boji Tower, adds three jobs

Lansing's full-line deli just expanded.
 
In the late summer, Michael Mahdi opened what he called a "mini Daily Bagel" on the first floor of the Boji Tower in the downtown district. The 600-square foot restaurant will compliment Mahdi's main operation just down the street by offering breakfast and lunch options to occupants and passersby of Lansing's landmark high-rise.
 
"The people are nice and friendly and glad we're there," says Mahdi of his newest customers. "It's a convenience for them, especially in the winter time. It will be good to have food in the building."
 
Building residents encouraged Mahdi to move into Boji's vacant café and set up a smaller version of his New York style deli. Mahdi installed a couple new grills, walk-in coolers, a full line of kitchen equipment and coffee machines, and brought a fresh, upscale look to the space. And while the restaurant can seat up to 10 people, most customers choose to order and go.
 
The small deli will carry up to 15 different sandwiches made with a variety of meats, cheeses, and freshly baked bagels or breads. Breakfast sandwiches come on bagels or croissants and feature combinations of eggs, meats, cheeses or cream cheese. Customers can also opt for breakfast pastries, soups and salads.
 
The Boji version of the Daily Bagel will employ three people for starters, but may add two or three more as winter sets in.
 
"I just want to keep my customers happy and provide good quality food at reasonable prices," says Mahdi. "It's something that keeps me busy, and you always try to invent something and be creative."
 
Mahdi has owned and operated the Daily Bagel at 309 S. Washington Square since 2005. The restaurant, he says, has been a popular eatery in downtown Lansing since 1987.
 
Source: Michael Mahdi, Owner, Daily Bagel
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Tabooli serves up fast and fresh Mediterranean, hires 15 people

Fathy Shetiah wants to take Mediterranean cuisine mainstream.
 
Borrowing from the make-your-own model popularized by sandwich shops, Shetiah and his brother Mohammed launched Tabooli and brought on-the-go Mediterranean to Lansing's East Side.
 
"We know the food is really good, fresh and healthy, but others might not," says Shetiah, "Our goal is to take the intimidation away and encourage people to try something new."
 
Tabooli starts with an intentionally simple menu built around Mediterranean staples like beef or chicken shawarma, falafel, eggplant and kofta. Customers decide whether they want a "bowl" or a "wrap" then select from toppings like hummus, pickled turnips or tabooli. Salads, paninis, desserts and beverages round out the menu, with meals ranging in price from about $6 to $8.
 
Shetiah opened Tabooli with his brother Mohammed. It's the first for Shetiah, while his brother has owned franchises in Greater Lansing for about 15 years. Menu items, he says, draw on the influences of Lebanese, Greek and Italian cuisine, and were carefully developed from recipes created and tested by friends, family and community members.
 
"There's even a touch of Egypt," says Shetiah, alluding to his Egyptian heritage. "We've added or subtracted to our recipes to make them our own."
 
Tabooli opened in early September after a summer of rehabbing the vacant Kentucky Fried Chicken building at 1620 E. Michigan Avenue. The 2,400-square foot restaurant seats up to 35 people in a space decked out with a contemporary color scheme of orange, white and green. Customers can opt for pick-up or catering, and a  drive-through is slated to open in November.
 
"It's been an incredible amount of hard work," says Shetiah.  "But when someone likes what you do, there's immediate satisfaction. That's especially true when parents bring their kids in here and say their kids love the food. Kids can be picky, so that says a lot."
 
Tabooli employs 15 people, with plans in the works to open more locations in East Lansing, Greater Lansing and beyond.
 
"Our goal is to grow it," says Shetiah. "We want to make our restaurant stand out and to be able to say that it started right here in Lansing."
 
Source: Fathy Shetiah, Co-owner, Tabooli Mediterranean
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

On the Rocks Wine and Spirits opens in Carriage Hills, creates three jobs

Rocky Singh was at a neighborhood gathering not too long ago in the northeastern edge of East Lansing. When the host asked if he could run out and get a few things, he said yes, not realizing how long it would take.
 
"We couldn't believe we had to drive five miles or more just to get some simple things," says Singh. "That's when I realized the need for a small store on that side of town."
 
Singh looked around at property in the Carriage Hills neighborhood and spotted a vacant storefront facing Lake Lansing Road. Within days, he put in a call to the leasing agent DTN Management and talked about his concept for a high-end party store that also carried basic convenience items.
 
By September 1, Singh was ready to open the doors to On the Rocks Wine and Spirits at  3050 E. Lake Lansing Road. He had worked for several months to redo the space, putting in sleek shelving, dramatic energy efficient lighting, and a walk-in cooler faced with stone. Finishing touches of his unique décor included rusted metal accents from an old barn and a color scheme reminiscent of autumn.
 
While ritzy in style, On the Rocks is equally everyday in appeal. Singh carries up to 400 types of craft beers and more than 500 wines. He places a special emphasis on carrying Michigan products, but says he can order any specialty beer, wine or spirits someone is looking for. Customers can also sample craft beers, wines and spirits through scheduled in-store tastings.
 
"I see this as a great opportunity to bring a decent, high-end selection of wine and craft beer to this side of town," says Singh. "It's a great neighborhood, and there's a growing market for wine and spirits."
 
Customers to On the Rocks can run in for staples like bread, biscuits, cheese, bacon, lunchmeat, hotdogs, milk and cream cheese. Common over-the-counter medicines, dog and cat food, and a small line of fresh produce are also in the mix. Three employees work the floor of the 3,500-square foot store, but Singh may add more as business grows.
 
"The neighborhood has been very welcoming," he says. "It's really heartwarming. One couple even brought us a bouquet of flowers."
 
Source: Rocky Singh, Owner, On the Rocks Wine and Spirits
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Meridian Township goes to the dogs with new day care for canines

The ground is breaking. And soon, cement will be poured, walls will go up, and a new space will be created for the furry, four-legged friend in your life.
 
Beginning in late October, Kincaid Henry Building Group will start construction of a second, brand-new location for Doggy Daycare and Spa on the corner of Grand River Avenue and Cornell Road in Meridian Township. The 7,000-square foot Okemos facility will join the original location on Lansing's West side in offering beloved canines cageless daycare, overnight boarding and grooming services—all while their owners are at work or out-of-town.
 
"We're here to provide an environment where dogs can socialize, play and enjoy spending time with other dogs," says Owner Janice Milligan. "For dogs who like other dogs, they really benefit."
 
Milligan and her father and business partner Dean Milligan are investing more than $1.1 million to build the state-of-the-art facility. The new daycare and spa will closely resemble the current location at 5325 W. Mt. Hope Highway in Delta Township and will feature a 4,000-square foot gym where dogs can romp, play and interact. The new facility will also feature 20 4-foot by 6-foot overnight spaces and a large outdoor fenced area for play and potty.
 
Milligan says that the concept of daycare for dogs works today when it might not have 30 years ago.
 
"When I was growing up in the 80s, if someone said we should take a dog to daycare, my dad would've said they were nuts," she laughs.
 
Doggy Daycare, Milligan says, acknowledges that people are busy, and that dogs are regarded as more than simply dogs.
 
"Dogs are family members," says Milligan. "People aren't satisfied to have their dog sit in a kennel all day. Bringing them to daycare gives the dog a chance to play and makes the dog's world a little bigger."
 
Doggy Day Care and Spa was originally founded in Okemos in 2000 and relocated to Delta 11 years ago. Like the Delta facility, the new Okemos location will accommodate 60 dogs a day and employ 15 people.
 
Source: Janice Milligan, Owner, Doggy Day Care and Spa
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Clients address root causes of health concerns through new Williamston facility

People seeking solutions for a health concern may find relief outside the traditional doctor visit through a newly established business in Williamston.
 
Authentic Alternative Health Choice offers a variety of approaches that can help a person achieve external and internal balance. Located at 1232 E. Grand River just west of downtown Williamston, the small facility provides ample space for the practice of health disciplines that involve massage, hot stones, reiki, lymphatic drainage, hypnotherapy and EFT, naturopathic medicine and natural health services, holistic health, life counseling and more.
 
"Many people are not finding the results they want through some of the more traditional medicines," says Owner Nicole Giguere. "People might be taking things to get rid of pain and having a hard time achieving that. They look to us to find the root cause—be it muscular, skeletal or other."
 
Giguere is among four specialists offering a unique blend of services. Her specialty, she says, is massage therapy. Another specialist focuses on naturopathy. A third specialist practices hypnotherapy. And to round out the mix, a life coach can help clients navigate change or challenging circumstances.
 
"With some clients, we refer each other's services," says Giguere. "There are correlations among all of us."
 
Giguere moved into the 817-square-foot-space in the spring of 2014 and worked with her dad—a custom homebuilder—to do all of the interior renovations. Each practitioner, she says, has a private space to work one-on-one with any of the 35 clients who visit the center each week. A small lobby with a vinyl hardwood floor and light yellow walls provides a welcoming space to enjoy cold water, hot tea and New Age music while browsing a small line of retail health products including natural energy drinks, anti-oxidant juices and essential oils.
 
"We're looking at the body holistically, or the authentic root of a person," says Giguere when how she came up with the name of her business. "And because we offer alternative choices that are health focused, the name just seemed to follow."
 
Source: Nicole Giguere, Owner, Authentic Alternative Health Care
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Long-time dance studio moves to new South Lansing location

Sixty-three years and three generations later, Patsy Watson is still dancing.
 
She just leaves the management of her dance studio to her daughter.
 
"My mom said that God gave her the gift to dance and teach," says Rhonda Mitchell, owner of Patsy Watson School of Dance. "And she's still doing it at the age of 83."
 
After six decades, the south Lansing dance studio still produces some of the area's finest dancers and provides instruction to people of all skills and abilities, ages 3 to 103. In early October, the studio underwent a major change by opening the doors on a new location just a mile or so from its original home. The 3,980-square-foot building at 3808 S. Cedar Street is about 600 square feet bigger than their old location, and features three rooms, waiting areas, and two-way mirrors so parents can watch their kids during class.
 
Mitchell says the new space allows the studio to continue to flourish and to offer classes like ballet, tap, modern, jazz, hip-hop, ballroom, Zumba and turbo kick. The studio also teaches cheer, acrobatics, mini-gymnastics, and provides after school care for neighborhood kids. About 180 students are enrolled.
 
"I'm investing in my children and grandchildren by purchasing a building for our studio," says Mitchell. "It's a family business, through and through."
 
Mitchell says her mother opened the Patsy Watson School of Dance in Lansing in 1951 with $500 and passion for teaching dance. Her mom, she says, was born in Lansing, but her grandfather moved the family to England when Patsy was just 5. Although her family endured the challenges of living in Europe during World War II, Patsy still received a solid dance education that she brought back to the U.S. when she turned 18.
 
"My mom started all this," says Mitchell. "We're just following in her footsteps."
 
Like her mother, Mitchell grew up dancing. Her daughter Vanessa did too. And now, Mitchell's infant grandchild, Lola, will more than likely dance as soon as she learns to walk.
 
"We're using the gift that God gave us," says Mitchell. "We don't charge a lot because we want children to have the chance to dance."
 
Source: Rhonda Mitchell, Owner, Patsy Watson School of Dance
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Aurora's Closet offers name brands at thrifty prices

Thrift stores, says Jennifer Normandin, are all about the hunt.
 
It's about finding that pair of designer jeans you couldn't think you could afford. Or that prom dress that's slightly vintage. Or it's about finding that single plate that completes the set you inherited from a distant relative.
 
As the owner of Aurora's Closet in downtown Williamston, Normandin understands the allure of coming into a store and never knowing what you're going to find. Located at 100 W. Grand River Ave., Aurora's Closet carries affordable clothing in excellent condition, along with a variety of other items. Clothing ranges from size preemie to adults XXL. Shoppers will also find shoes, purses, hats, accessories, toys, furniture, books and assorted household items.
 
"Some people think thrift stores are full of items that no one absolutely wants anymore," says Normandin. "That's not the case with us. Everything here is very clean. You won't find stains or rips or really worn out things. We have lots of name-brand items, and we sell things at decent prices."
 
Normandin and her business partner Janet Stumpf cut the ribbon on Aurora's closet on September 11 after a few months of prep work in the historic building. While she's unsure of the square footage, Normandin says the former video store has more than ample room for nearly 2,000 items on multiple clothing racks, shelves, tables and floor displays.
 
"When we came here, everything had a fresh coat of paint," says Normandin. "We kept the wallpaper with the 1900s country theme. We thought the imagery of general stores, horses and carts, and picket fences matched the tone of the building and the city."
 
Normandin says she carries a lot of modern clothing with well-known brands—many of which would go for $60 or more new. The price tag on most any clothing item in her store is $10 or less, with many styles and items rotating with the season.
 
"We just want people to be able to shop and not break the bank," says Normandin. "Everyone deserves nice clothes and shouldn't have to pick or choose whether they can have a nice pair of jeans or have to trade it for something else they might need."
 
Source: Jennifer Normandin, Owner, Aurora's Closet
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Barbs Designs transforms big events into small business

For Barbara Joseph, the party never ends.
 
As the owner of Barbs Designs, Joseph is in the business of providing the highest quality decorations for special events from weddings to birthday parties to baby showers.
 
"I love working with people and helping them celebrate," says Joseph. "It's rewarding to create something beautiful and exciting and to help people reach something they've been dreaming of."
 
Joseph launched Barbs Designs after her children graduated high school and she found she had extra time on her hands. She had worked for years in local government, and decided to change career paths by taking a part-time job as an events stylist.
 
Joseph combined what she learned on-the-job with her life-long experience organizing parties for families and friends and opened her home-based business in  DeWitt in July 2013. Just recently, she added two part-time employees. She also relies on the continual support of her husband and sewing wiz mother.
 
"I have a huge inventory of products," says Joseph who is also venturing into floral design. "Everything from linens to centerpieces to candelabras, and even a wooden cake stand custom-designed by my husband."
 
Joseph can show clients actual samples of display items and linens, and keeps an extensive sample book of different fabrics. In some cases, she can custom-design linens for clients.
 
"My mom is my seamstress," she says. "She's the one behind me and supporting my creative side."
 
Joseph averages about two events a month for half the year, and about three during the spring and summer wedding and graduation seasons. She says she has planned events for small groups all the way up to those for 350 guests.
 
"Even though I'm a small business, I have big ideas," says Joseph. "I never forget that each and every event is special. I want to always have that one-on-one with each customer and make them happy."
 
Source: Barbara Joseph, Owner, Barbs Designs
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

UnoDeuce Multimedia moves to new space, adds staff

Visual storyteller Paul Schmidt just got started on a new chapter of his business.
 
In August, Schmidt moved operations for UnoDeuce Multimedia across the street and upstairs to a new space in REO Town. While not too much bigger than his previous place of business next to Art Alley, his new studio at 1146 S. Washington Ave. offers a configuration that includes access to a lounge area, conference room and opportunity to grow.
 
"We're right upstairs within the New Horizons learning center," says Schmidt. "It makes for good synergy. It's good for my staff. And most of all, there's room for us to grow. That's one of the big things."
 
UnoDeuce recently added a full-time video producer, or as Schmidt calls, a "chief video storyteller." Paul Henderson started in the early summer. Schmidt also works with occasional sub contractors, and is considering bringing on more full- or part-time staff depending on workflow.
 
Schmidt launched UnoDeuce in 2001 with the mission of providing low-cost, high-quality media solutions for non-profit, church-based and small business organizations. Within a decade, the company had earned national recognition for its video production quality, and became the creator of websites and media production tools for clients across the country.
 
Schmidt's local and Michigan-based customers include Lutheran Social Services, Michigan Osteopathic Association, Cravings Gourmet Popcorn, Annabelle's Pet Station, Evolve Corporate Wellness and Top Duck Products. UnoDeuce also sponsors and provides video support for the Lansing Derby Vixens.
 
"I came across a stat once that said a video is worth 1.8 million words," says Schmidt. "For us, it's all about crafting stories about people's passions using video as a storytelling tool. "
 
Source: Paul Schmidt, Owner, UnoDeuce Multimedia
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Husband-wife team roasts up wood-fired coffee on Lansing's North Side

Paul and Emily Nicholls share a love for each other and for great coffee. So when the residents of Santa Cruz, California, moved to Lansing about three years ago and got a taste of the city's entrepreneurial culture, they knew their destiny was to brew up something big.
 
In June, the Nicholls opened Rust Belt Roastery at 801 E. Grand River after a long search for the best means of production. They had never forgotten the fellow they had met on a trip out West, someone who made the best coffee they ever had using a simple, wood-fired roaster.
 
"We started looking on-line and found a wood-fired roaster up in Wisconsin," says Nicholls. "We knew we had to have it."
 
Paul and Emily purchased the 1930s Victoria Italian roaster and had it delivered via tractor-trailer to Lansing. After some adept maneuvering, they successfully planted the 3,500-pound cast iron roaster inside the 960-square-foot building that would eventually become their place of business.
 
"It's a magical device," says Nicholls. "It's big and red and chrome and was made during that time when orchards were everywhere."
 
The Nicholls live within walking distance of the roastery on the edge of Old Town. They've added to the hometown feel by roasting their first few months of beans with the ample supply of red oak sacrificed by one of their trees during last year's ice storm.
 
"We got about 60 feet of wood from that mighty branch," laughs Nicholls who also sources cherry and apple wood from a Williamston farm. "I can roast 20 pounds of beans with a piece of wood the size of a baseball bat."
 
Nicholls says the wood-fired roaster produces an exceptional smooth cup of coffee with a rich smoky flavor. He roasts about two to three 20-pound batches every Saturday, and sources his beans through single-source or fair trade suppliers.
 
"I like everything about what I do," says Nicholls. "And Lansing is a neat place with old trees, a couple rivers and a lot of nice people all working on the same team. I like that."
 
Rust Belt Roastery coffee is carried through the Old Town General Store, Vet's Too Gift Boutique, Detroit Frankie's Wood-Fired Pizza, and the East Lansing Farmer's Market.
 
Source: Paul Nicholls, Owner, Rust Belt Roastery
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

New Horizons opens co-working space in REO Town, relocates up to 24 jobs

Back in the "old days," computer training took place in classrooms—complete with desktops, facilitators and giant printed manuals.
 
As a Michigan leader in computer learning and training, New Horizons wanted to find a new facility that reflected their business model and more effectively served their clients.
 
Enter REO Town and a building owned by developer Alan Hooper. It was a space, says New Horizons Chief Administrative Officer Scott McLean, that provided the energetic, urban environment he envisioned. What's more, it was close to highways, downtown, and to many New Horizons clients.
 
So in August, New Horizon moved from East Lansing to 1146 S. Washington and became a "tenant" within their new venture: a collaborative working and learning space for IT and coding professionals, small business owners, entrepreneurs, traveling business people and more.
 
"Our business has changed so much that we wanted to look at our space and see how we can continue to add value," says McLean. "The more we talked and thought about it, the more we got hooked on the idea of creating a co-working and learning center."
 
Co:Space consists of 6,500 square feet of open work area for up to 80 people. Customers have access to WiFi, printers, scanners and storage lockers, and can drop in or purchase monthly memberships. New Horizons set aside an area for computer classes, as well as a conference space for events or meetings.
 
McLean outfitted Co:Space with industrial-style furnishings, exposed brick walls and a polished concrete floor. One wall features a huge chalk drawing by Michigan artist Greg Oberle that pays homage to REO Town.
 
"We want to be an investor in Lansing," says McLean. "A lot of Michigan cities are undergoing urban renewal and recreating areas like this."
 
New Horizons will relocate 12 staff to the new facility, with a dozen more dropping in from other sites once or twice a week.
 
Co:Space and New Horizons invite the community to celebrate the new facility with an open house on Wednesday, October 8, from 4 to 7 p.m. Free parking is available behind the building or on the street.

Source: Scott McLean, Chief Administrative Officer, New Horizons
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

East Lansing Threads brings resort-inspired brands to town, creates 10 jobs

Marsha Chouinard never suspected the email her stepdaughter sent from the East Lansing Art Fair would recommend a storefront as the family's next work of art.
 
But when Chouinard saw the picture of the vacated Kirabo's at 225 E. Grand River, she instantly knew it was the perfect place to open the Midwestern "sister store" of her Destin, Florida, boutique.
 
Chouinard began putting things in motion to open East Lansing Threads—a clothing boutique for men and women featuring trendy brands such as Vineyard Vines, Southern Proper, Southern Tide, Southern Marsh, Ella Moss, 7 for All Mankind and Splendid. The 1,200-square-foot store also carries accessories and apparel from Over Under as well as designer handbags, footwear and artisan jewelry. 
 
"Our brands aren't super expensive, but they're high quality and very well made," says Chouinard. "We try to hit, good, better and best for everything we carry."
 
Chouinard developed her passion for fashion from her career as a purchaser and manager of resort retail. She has opened nearly a dozen stores, including a Threads boutique in Destin.
 
"While our main market is college, we know that lots of moms and community members need casual weekend wear, too," says Chouinard. "In Destin, we see a variety of ages—from middle school all the way to up to men and women in their 50s."
 
After securing the spot in June, Chouinard enlisted a renovation team to build out the space. Changes included pulling out the drop ceiling, repainting walls with charcoal and light gray tones, installing a slate-looking floor, and adding fitting rooms, a new cash desk and alcoves.
 
Chouinard's husband, Marty, grew up in Greater Lansing, and encouraged her to give Michigan a try for her second Threads store.
 
"We're very excited to be part of the community, for sure," says Chouinard. "I'm really happy to have a reason to be up here and be near other members of my family."
 
Threads opened in late September with a staff of three full-time and five part-time employees.
 
Source: Marsha Chouinard, Owner, East Lansing Threads
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Al-Lin Floral and Gifts grows business, moves to new space

Alan Vogl learned all about flowers from his grandma, a master gardener in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
 
Today, Vogl is a master in his own rite as he tends to a flourishing and growing business in Okemos.
 
Vogl owns Al-Lin Floral and Gifts with his wife Linda. The 10-year-old business recently relocated to prime frontage at 1739 W. Grand River after outgrowing their space a mile east down the road.
 
"We attribute out growth to a quality product at a fair price," says Vogl of the move that nearly doubled the space for his business. "Our customer service also makes us stand out."
 
The husband-wife team decided to open the shop in 2005 after their kids packed up and went to college. Al had worked for years in a local floral shop, and with the business skills of his wife and the "home schooling" he had received from his grandmother, he felt confident cultivating a business of his own.
 
Al-Lin Floral's new 5,500-square-foot store captures attention from the busy roadway and positions the shop to nurture the floral and gift needs of new and returning customers.
 
"All our flowers are fresh and come in daily and last five to seven days," says Vogl. "We offer seasonal specials, and we do arrangements for corporate events, weddings, special occasions, every day, and most of all, just because."
 
The new store, Vogl says, will carry more unique gifts including pillows, lotions, napkins, candleholders and other home décor items. The new location will also offer a special line of Michigan products made by local artisans.
 
"We're not your typical everyday florist," says Vogl. "We encourage customers to participate in the design of their arrangement, and we offer floral classes so you can make your own arrangement to take home."
 
Al-Lin Floral and Gifts also offers seasonal decorating services for homes and businesses, tailored to customer preferences. The Vogls employ two part-time staff, and plan to hire up to two more part-time designers and three sales people in the next couple months.
 
Source: Alan Vogl, Owner, Al-Lin Floral and Gifts
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor
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