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Music lover brings vision from the road with amphitheater development

Bob Jordan spent 20 years on the road in the music business getting his start as a mixer for Fleetwood Mac. Now he's home with a vision to bring bands to mid-Michigan's backyard.
 
Along with business partner Cheryl McCullough, Jordan aspires to break ground this summer on a 15,000-seat outdoor music amphitheater in Windsor Township. Located on 100 acres just a quarter mile off I-69, the $20 million dollar project will be a state-of-the-art theater that gives music fans a local option for high-end musical acts from April through October. Slated to open in 2015, the Mid-Michigan Music Theater will create 250 seasonal and 75 annual jobs.
 
"Lansing needs this," says Jordan, a resident of Williamston Township. "It's hard to get to DTE, Van Andel, FireKeepers or Soaring Eagle during the week. People really want this here."
 
The Mid-Michigan Music Theater will feature national headliners as well as local and regional acts. The layout will feature plenty of big screens, a scalable stage for big or small acts, and ample ceiling height for large or elaborate shows. Opening plans for the inaugural season include a two-day festival showcasing mid-Michigan performers.
 
"We're also looking into the engineering of having a roof that can close over the fixed seating area, similar to a football stadium," says Jordan. "That way we can do events in the winter and not have to depend on the weather."
 
Jordan says the theater will give back to the community through fundraisers, food drives, and ticket giveaways to non-profit organizations. He also envisions awarding percentages of parking fees to groups that serve as attendants during events.
 
Jordan has his sights on building a "green" arena using Michigan contractors. He's also seeking LEED certification. A crowd funding campaign on the arena website is open to community members interested in contributing to or investing in the project.
 
"We're going to do as much to support the community as we can," says Jordan. "That's important to us."
 
Source: Bob Jordan, Mid-Michigan Music Theater
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Maybelle's Café and Sweets creates a gathering place, four jobs

When Amy Zander told her friends about her recent venture to open a café in Grand Ledge, they smiled and said it was a perfect fit.
 
"They said my house has always been the place where all of us want to gather because I'm a good host and always had good things to eat," says Zander. "That's my goal now."
 
Beginning May 3, Zander will open the doors to Maybelle's Café and Sweets at 214B S. Bridge Street. It's a dream she's had since high school and later reinforced when she and her husband managed a private hunting lodge and full-service kitchen in Northern Michigan.
 
Zander will move into the previous home of Sweet Linda's Café—a beloved bakery and sandwich shop that recently closed when the owner retired. She won't be straying much from the Sweet Linda's premise, Zander says, and will offer sandwiches, soups and salads, homemade baked goods, gourmet coffee and organic loose-leaf tea.
 
"One thing I am doing differently is I am going to be offering a gluten-free line of sandwiches and baked goods," says Zander. "And then there's my bubble bread."
 
Baked from a family recipe, bubble bread is a variation on the cinnamon roll and comes in several flavors. Any customer who can say 'bubble bread' correctly five times in a row will get a free sample.
 
"I'm planning to have a nice balance between some good sweet treats and healthy foods," says Zander. "That's how I like to eat. I like to eat healthy, but I also like to have a great brownie or cookie to balance it."
 
Zander is taking out a back wall to double her capacity, and configuring arrangements of tables and couches for cozy seating. She's also opening up an outdoor patio and garden area that will feature live music when the weather breaks.
 
"After this crazy winter, I'm really looking forward to sitting out there myself," she says.
 
Zander plans to hire up to four staff, and may also get occasional help from the budding chefs in her family, including her two kids and husband.
 
Source: Amy Zander, owner, Maybelle's Café and Sweets
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Leaf branches out to new Okemos location, creates nine jobs

Although Leaf Salad Bar opened its Frandor location just eight months ago, the need to branch out was apparent within weeks.
 
"It took off so fast that I had to look for a second location almost immediately," says co-owner Mark Sprinkel. "We found an Okemos location that attracts a solid lunch market, and we have more than ample parking."
 
Sprinkel opened the doors on the 1,300-square foot restaurant in mid-March, serving 40 inside and 10 on an outdoor patio when weather permits. The Woodland Square location at 2319 Jolly Road has already attracted a steady following for the gourmet salad bar that offers a healthy alternative for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
 
With a staff of nine and the culinary prowess of chef Phil Bopka, the Okemos venue mirrors the format of Lansing location by allowing patrons to weigh and pay for their own salads created from more than 100 gourmet toppings. Leaf also serves soups, fruits and smoothies, bringing what Sprinkel says, is a new option for a fresh, fast and healthy lunch every day.
 
"You can be creative and have a chopped salad one day, an Italian the next," says Sprinkel. "Or you can make a fruit salad. People are starting to come in for breakfast smoothies, too."
 
Sprinkel and his business partner Igor Jurkovic of Restaurant Mediteran are looking to expand their catering horizons, including wheel-in salad bars at off-site events.
 
"Right now our catering is all pick-up," says Sprinkel. "We're also looking into opening locations in Detroit and East Grand Rapids, and hope to franchise the business."
 
Source: Mark Sprinkel, Owner, Leaf Salad Bar
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Soup Spoon Cafe adds space, expands service options

Nick Gavrilides is all about good food. He's also all about ensuring the best experience for his guests.
 
Those two factors,  Gavrilides says, are behind the recent expansion of the Soup Spoon Cafe at 1419 E. Michigan Ave. on Lansing's East Side.
 
"That and we could always use a little more storage space," says the owner and chef of the seven-year-old restaurant. "It can get a little cramped in here sometimes."
 
In late March, Gavrilides started reconstructing an adjoining space that used to house Bancroft Flowers. With expected completion by mid- May, the Soup Spoon addition will accommodate up to 30 guests, bringing the restaurant's total capacity to 100 diners for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Gavrilides says that while connected to the original footprint, the new space is ideal for private receptions and parties, as well as for accommodating larger groups.
 
While his primary motive is to offer more seating and cut down on wait times, Gavrilides says the expansion will also foster growth on the catering side—something the Soup Spoon has not done except on a small scale.
 
"I'm just excited to be able to serve more people, and to feel confident that they can get in, have a good lunch, and get back to work on time," says Gavrilides. "I'm also excited about expanding our catering offerings and to get the show on the road."
 
Since opening in the early 2000s, the Soup Spoon has built a healthy following through a menu that features six soups, world cuisine, craft beers, and locally roasted coffee. All items are reasonably priced, with per plate costs ranging from $5 to $29.
 
Gavrilides says he will be adding two new staff immediately and possibly up to five depending on public reception.
 
"If our catering needs go wild, we'll be in a position to offer more opportunity," he says.
 
Source: Nick Gavrilides, Owner and Chef, The Soup Spoon Cafe
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Black Cat Bistro brings sophisticated dining, 30 jobs to East Lansing

Two area restaurateurs looking to fill a niche in East Lansing are working together to transform a small retail space into a grand venue for sophisticated dining.
 
Beginning in late April, Los Tres Amigos' Arnulfo Ramirez and Georgio's Pizza's Thomas Alimonos will open the doors on the Black Cat Bistro at 115 Albert Street. The 2,000-square foot restaurant will be a partnership between the two entrepreneurs and will feature upscale, modern American cuisine in a fine dining atmosphere.
 
"Arnulfo and Thomas met as local business owners here," says Lorely Polanco, marketing director for the Black Cat Bistro. "They were interested in each other's approach to business, and they both had the idea of opening a fine dining establishment in East Lansing that could compete with destinations in Eastwood. They just clicked."
 
Polanco says the interior of the restaurant will strike a balance between simplicity and sophistication through dark leather booths, art deco walls, and wrought iron chandeliers. Nearly 80 diners will be able to enjoy indoor table service, while an outdoor patio adjacent to an East Lansing park will seat up to 30 guests.
 
Diners at the Black Cat can enjoy appetizers like bistro fries or peanut crusted goat cheese fritters, or salads like toasted almond and avocado or shaved asparagus and arugula. Main courses start at $11 up to $23 and include char-grilled skirt steak, mango and mustard glazed lake trout, mushroom strudel, and other dishes created by Executive Chef Jose Romero. Desserts favor cheesecakes, torts, ganache-filled oreos and a traditional Valencia rice pudding in a crispy almond cookie.
 
"Our menus is small but unique," says Polanco of the restaurant that will create about 30 jobs. "We'll have some local dishes that will feature local products, too."
 
Source: Lorely Polanco, Marketing Director for the Black Cat Bistro
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Zoobie's launches expansion, add foods, space and new jobs to popular tavern

A whimsical mix of the 1960s space race, coal-fired pizza and mid-century décor are fueling the expansion of a popular bar and restaurant in Old Town.
 
But that's not all that's driving the owners of Zoobie's Old Town Tavern at 611 E. Grand River Ave. to more than double its size by repurposing a vacant lot and pizza place next door.
 
"Our customers inspired us," says co-owner Sam Short of launching into the next phase of the business he operates with Aaron Matthews and Alan Hooper. "We had such a welcoming reception from Lansing, and the only real point we heard was that people wanted us to add food and a kitchen."
 
Short says it made sense to expand to the west and start a new pizza venture called The Cosmos Wood-Fired Pizza on the former site of Poppa Leo's. The half-million dollar plan involves refurbishing the pizzeria, connecting the two buildings via an addition, expanding the outdoor patio, and creating an eye-catching façade that includes a faux spaceship and cosmic mural. Local architect Ken Jones of Studio Intrigue and contractor Mike Reid from Capitol Mechanical are also involved bringing the concept down to earth.
 
"We're going to get started as soon as it thaws," says Short. "Our first order of business is paving the lots that took a winter beating, and then doing the groundwork."
 
Expected to open this June, The Cosmos will feature thin crust, Naples style pizza made in a wood-fire oven. Johnson and Wales trained chef Don Konopnicki will also create a small plate menu for both sides of the business. Short says that The Cosmos will locally source the wood for the pizza stove, and that menu items will feature fresh herbs from Zoobie's patio garden as the seasons allow.
 
The 1,500-square foot expansion will double Zoobie's interior space, while the patio will grow from an existing 55 to about 100 feet. About 10 new staff will be added once the 25-seat Cosmos is up and running.
 
"We're glad to be part of the local, creatively-driven businesses of Old Town," says Short. "Everything here is true Lansing. That's why we want to stay here and grow and create these fun options."
 
Zoobies and The Cosmos are exploring options for an exterior mural on the expanded tavern. Interested artists are welcome to email Sam Short via Zoobie's website for more details.

Source: Sam Short, co-owner, Zoobie's Old Town Tavern
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Mid-Michigan native applies brew master credentials to new Williamston microbrewery

Something's brewing in Williamston.
 
Starting in April, a developer with local roots will begin transforming the former home of the Williamston police and public works departments into a microbrewery and brewpub. When opened this fall, the soon-to-be-named venue will brew, sell and bottle more than a dozen types of beer on-site using equipment and ingredients sourced from Michigan.
 
"This will be the largest project we've worked on," says Travis Fritts, developer and partner in the Detroit Beer Company. "I've been trying to get back to Mid-Michigan for years. It feels like a good fit for Williamston and a good fit for me and my family."
 
Fritts grew up in Dimondale and followed his wanderlust to Germany. He knocked around taking food science courses at the Technical University of Berlin, and then began training at the university's institute for brewing: The VLB. Returning home with master brewing credentials, Fritts went to work for Webberville's Michigan Brewing Company before relocating to Detroit.
 
Fritts has longed to bring his stouts, pilsners, lagers and other inspired craft beers to Williamston. When he heard talk of the two-story industrial facility being up for sale, he made plans and presented his vision for an old world style pub and brewery to city leaders.
 
"It's a brewery, but we're concerned about good food, too," says Fritts. "The word 'pub' infers a meeting place for family and friends. We want to go for the café sort-of-feel."
 
The 25,00-square foot facility at 1500 W. Grand River will accommodate a 3,000 square-foot restaurant with 85 indoor seats and up to 15 on an outdoor patio. The remainder of the space will become production facilities and offices.  
 
Fritts will be acquiring brew tanks and related production equipment from Craftwerk Brewing Systems, an equipment manufacturer in Clarkson, Mich. He is also rebuilding a bottling line from a plant in Inkster that will be moved up to the Williamston facility come summer. The facility, he says, will create about 20 jobs between the restaurant, production and administration.
 
Source: Travis Fritts, Developer and Owner, upcoming Williamston microbrewery and pub
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Red Haven expands kitchen, adds staff to serve growing menu and food truck

Mid-Michigan farm-to-table dining experience is getting bigger.
 
The once fledging Red Haven is adding nearly 1,000 square feet to the existing 2,200-square food restaurant at 4880 S. Hagadorn Road in East Lansing. Co-owner Nina Santucci says Meridian Township approved the expansion the week of March 3. Renovations, she says, will be completed by mid- to late-April and primarily involve adding square footage to the kitchen, and reconfiguring space to create a private dining area.
 
"The additional kitchen space will allow us to prep and store food for our new lunch menu and for our food truck and catering services," says Santucci of the Red Haven and the popular Purple Carrot food truck. "Our goal is to get our food truck up and running five days a week rather than the current two we've been doing since the restaurant opened."
 
Santucci and her business partner and husband Anthony Maiale celebrated the grand opening of Red Haven in October 2012. A sit-down complement to the Purple Carrot, the restaurant serves upscale food made from seasonal, local ingredients in a casual environment.
 
Red Haven's tapas style of dining encourages restaurant guests to experiment and share menu items at their table. An ever-changing seasonal menu includes dinner favorites like white bean and kale soup, patty melt, pork steak, chicken confit panini, and shrimp fettuccini. The new lunch menu, which started in January, features similar items with a focus on sandwiches, soups and lunch-size plates of pasta.
 
"We try to put a creative spin on classic dishes," says Santucci. "We want to have that sense of whimsy and bring you something that you wouldn't expect."
 
Santucci says that the expanded kitchen will include a couple convection ovens plus lots of storage.
 
"It will be helpful to have more space for our dry storage items," she says. "Plus we'll actually have a real office here."
 
The Red Haven employs 25 cooks, wait staff and managers. Santucci says the expansion and new lunch service may enable the restaurant to add up to five staff in the summer season.

Source: Nina Santucci, co-owner, Red Haven
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Crosaires integrates community and elder living

After working 21 years working in the long-term care industry, Todd Walter was ready for a change—not just for himself, but for the elders he cared for.
 
Walter struck upon the business model of providing comprehensive care for a small group of elderly adults within a residential setting. He purchased a four bedroom, 2,800-square foot home on Zimmer Road in Williamston, invested $28,000 in renovations and updates, and created his long-envisioned labor of love.
 
Walter opened Crosaires in October 2012 with the goal of providing what he calls an "aging in community residence" for the elderly. The concept, he says, is to provide an assisted living community where caregivers become care partners who share in the responsibility of providing a balanced, fulfilling life for elders.
 
Elders living at Crosaires receive 24-hour medical care and supervision, and are allowed the freedom to experience life through the community where they live. Residents and staff regularly participate in events and activities in and near Williamston, and community groups are frequent visitors to the home.
 
"Our sole emphasis is on the elder," says Walter. "Everyone else—from the team who works here to families and the medical world—are serving as their supporters."
 
Within a year, Crosaires transformed the home's 800-square foot garage into two additional private residences with a private bathroom. Two more elders moved in in October 2013, and Waters added two staff as well. Crosaires currently employs nine staff and is home to six unrelated individuals age 77 to 94
 
"We're serving people during a particular phase of their life," says Walter. " A high majority of what we do here is based on the interests, desires and hobbies of the people who live and work here. What we're doing is part of a culture-change movement that can change how people view getting older."
 
Source: Todd Walter, Founder and Owner, Crosaires
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Lansing's first one-stop African market opens in Old Town

She came here in 2001. He followed a few years later. Today, the husband-wife team from Liberia set up shop in Lansing's Old Town to serve other immigrants and shoppers by providing African goods and cuisine.
 
"We saw a need for someone to open a store here," says Sam R.E. Dixon, co-owner of Chiere International Market at 304 E. Grand River. "We decided to be that one."
 
Sam and his wife, Sue-bunch Cecilia, opened what they describe as Lansing's only one-stop African market in November, and cut the ribbon in late February. The 1,100-square foot store carries food, decorative arts, and clothing from African countries including Liberia, Ghana, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, La Cote d'ivoire and Nigeria.
 
The Dixons were inspired to open the store after observing the large population of Lansing immigrants and refugees carpooling once a month to Ann Arbor, Detroit and Chicago for African goods and products.
 
"Everyone we met said they were willing to go as far as they could to have the kinds of foods they had back home," says Sue-bunch. "We decided to bring the food here."
 
The Dixons work with suppliers in Chicago, Maryland, New Jersey and New York to stock staples like Nido Powder Milk, Plantain Fufu Flour, Liberian Fresh Palm Cream Butter and Pure Red Palm Oil. Fresh foods and produce include sweet potato leaves, okra, cassava, fresh meats and fish, as well as high-quality organic and locally sourced groceries. Other specialty items include rice, seafood, spices, canned goods and juices. All products, the Dixons say, are USDA and FDA inspected and approved.
 
In addition to food products, the Dixon also carry African arts and crafts and a line of beauty supplies, skin creams and African soaps. The goal, they say, is to make the shop appealing to anyone interested in African culture and products.
 
"People hear about us and call to see what we have," Sue-bunch says. "Once, when I told an MSU student that we had African pop, he said 'don't say anything else, I'm there.' People here really appreciate what we carry, and everyone is so supportive."
 
Source: Sam R.E. and Sue-bunch Cecilia Dixon, Owners/operators, Chiere International Market
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Edito

Williamston embroidery and gift store expands, locates on main street

Crystal Amon opened her first embroidery and design shop two years ago in Williamston. Within days she was stitching together plans for a bigger store.
 
"My husband calls it 'hobbies gone wild,'" says Amon of CC Embroidery, Vinyl Designs and Gifts. "I just started getting more calls and I wanted to take the chance."
 
In late fall 2013, Amon moved her shop from the outer edge of town to 138 E. Grand River on Williamston's main thoroughfare. At 2,000 square feet, her newest base of operation gives her the space and visibility she needs for her growing business.
 
"A lot of my friends and the Williamston Eagles donated their time to help," says Amon. "I literally had people coming in to place orders right as we were moving in."
 
Amon cut the ribbon on her new store in mid-February. Despite the cold and snowy season, she says she has been as busy as ever offering machine embroidery and screen printing services, and creating custom vinyl banners and other products.
 
CC Embroidery also carries a line of pre-made or made-to-order apparel, accessories, window decals, soy wax candles, and handmade baby clothes by local women. Amon's crafty talents extend to handmade jewelry, including Native American beadwork.
 
"I'm here for whatever people need," says Amon. "My service is all personal. Sometimes my customers will even sit with me and we'll design together. I'll take their design or logo and they can see and make changes. It's very one-on-one."
 
Source: Crystal Amon, Owner, CC Embroidery, Vinyl Designs and Gift Shop
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Restaurateur buys landmark Terranova's Market, hires four local staff

Faez Toma woke up one morning and knew he needed a change. He was ready, he said, to get out of the "rat race" and to pursue a different path in the restaurant biz. Something, he said, was right around the corner.
 
Toma found that change in Terranova's Market. And while nearly two hours up the freeway from Toma's home in Farmington Hills, the small grocery store in DeWitt was Toma's dream come true.
 
"I knew when I walked in that bingo—this was it," says Toma, who jokingly credits his childhood nickname "Fonz" for fueling his quest for a simpler life. "It was the little market in the little town I was looking for."
 
Toma purchased the 2,500 square foot store at 129 S. Bridge St. in December. He kept the moniker of the landmark store, and went about making incremental changes while retaining Terranova's small-town flair.
 
"I knew that something could be realized here with just a little bit of effort," says Toma. "The store was already a success but I knew it had even more potential."
 
Toma drew on his experience and family background in the liquor and restaurant business and expanded Terranova's spirits section to include craft beers, specialized bourbons and scotches. He also began changing up the grocery aisles to accommodate specialty items from small distributors.
 
"You can go anywhere and get a can of chicken noodle soup," says Toma. "Sure, I'll carry that, but I want my shop to be known for finding those specialized items you can't find anywhere else."
 
In January, Toma installed new double-decker ovens for making hot subs and stone-fired pizzas. He also stocks a cooler with homemade salads and sandwiches, and plans to offer more to-go foods as the store's kitchen remodel gets underway.
 
In keeping with the community, Toma hired four staff from DeWitt to help him run the market. He hopes, too, to localize his own life and cut down on his daily commute by moving his family closer sometime soon.
 
"DeWitt is a great and fantastic community," says Toma. "With me coming from a bigger city, it's refreshing to have that small-town experience."
 
Source: Faez Toma, Owner, Terranova's Market
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Four Blank & Ten creates space for talking interior design in Lansing's Old Town

As the owner of Four Blank & Ten, Jeremy Mick has been designing interior spaces from the comfort of his own home since about 2005. But recently, Mick decided to open his very first brick and mortar store, and provide a space where he could sit down, relax and talk ideas with prospective clients.
 
In late February, Mick officially cut the ribbon on his 150-square foot studio located inside of Leopold Bloom & Co., 523 E. Grand River, in Lansing's Old Town. The cozy space allows prospective clients to view lighting, flooring and paint samples, and to reimagine their own living quarters while viewing Mick's extensive portfolio for interior design.
 
"I like to create stylish and contemporary spaces by mixing traditional and modern styles," says Mick. "I don't like things to look like they popped out of a catalog."
 
Mick says he works with clients to help build spaces around existing pieces, and to expand upon ideas his clients may have.
 
"I want it to seem like an extension of what they may have done," he says. "My goal is to take their ideas and make the space something they are going to enjoy, rather than just making it look pretty."
 
Mick says he enjoys looking for unique pieces and finding things that can be repurposed or juxtaposed with different styles. A television armoire, for example, might find a new life as an office supply cabinet, while a 100-year-old antique might get a new look when positioned in a room with modern wallpaper.
 
"My goal is to make your home look like the design took years to come up with," he says. "That goes with the fact that more people are trying to invest in their homes and make them comfortable, rather than simply moving on."
 
Eventually, Mick says, he would like to expand to a larger space where he can display samples of cabinets, flooring and other decor, and even bring on a full- or part-time employee.
 
"Right now it's just me," he says.
 
Source: Jeremy Mick, Owner, Four Blank & Ten
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

HiTea bring traditional Asian tea, eight jobs to East Lansing

Yao Xiao believes in the art of tea preparation. And as the co-owner and partner of a new teahouse in East Lansing, he wants to show his customers how to get the most from a cup of tea.
 
"A lot of people don't know how to prepare tea and boil the tea leaves," says Xiao, also known as "Angus." "We'll show you the instruments to use and how to make tea the right way."
 
Angus is steeped in preparations to open HiTea, a 1,064 square foot teashop in the East Lansing Marriott at University Place. The shop, Angus says, will bring a contemporary edge to a traditional teashop, and feature 26 bubble tea flavors, Asian drinks, and a selection of breads, croissants, European style sandwiches, brownies, muffins, cheesecake and salads.
 
"The raw materials for our teas is directly imported from China," Angus says. "Our taste is much more traditional, and we will have toppings like bubbles and jellies to add into the cup."
 
Since January, Angus has been building a relaxing teashop by installing comfortable seating, decorative wood structures, and storage and preparation areas. He's also brought in more than 13 different pieces of equipment deemed essential for preparing high-end teas, including a water heater, boiler, icemaker, water filtration system, and a filling and shaking machine. When completed, the shop will seat 34 customers inside and six to eight outside.
 
The East Lansing HiTea, Angus says, is part of a growing chain of teashops that originated in China, and is the fourth U.S. location behind Ohio, Illinois and Pennsylvania.
 
Angus plans to open HiTea March 10 and to have a grand opening toward the end of the month. HiTea will employ eight people, with more staff added in the coming year.
 
Source: Yao Xiao ("Angus"), co-owner and partner, HiTea
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Kellie's Consignments takes customers on the road, looks to expansion

Kellie Johnson is inviting people to get on the bus.
 
On March 15, the owner of Kellie's Consignments will host her first-ever Spring Shopping Bus Tour that treats shoppers to a daylong excursion to consignment stores in Southeast Michigan.
 
"This winter sparked me to do it," says Johnson who has owned the popular Okemos store since 2006. "People are stir-crazy. This is a way for 55 people to get on a bus and go crazy."
 
Johnson says the 12-hour day starts at 8 a.m. with a lightly catered breakfast at the shop. Customers then board a charter bus and enjoy snacks, drinks and prizes en route to three destinations: Trading Closets in Brighton, Smart Chics in Novi, and Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi.
 
"It's just perfect for spring break shopping," says Johnson of the all-inclusive $45 round-trip ticket. "We hope to do it again in the fall."
 
Johnson describes her consignment outlet as upscale recycling. Seventy percent of her inventory consists of items that people ask her to sell, while the remaining 30 percent are things she orders new or lightly used.
 
"We look for anything you have that is fashionable or decorative for the person or the home," she says. "Then we recycle items to other people who put them to good use."
 
Johnson works with nearly 8,000 consignees nationwide and greets about 300 shoppers a day in her 14,000-square foot shop. She added six new staff in 2013 for a total of 13 employees, and looks to add more in 2014 as she starts online sales. Her five-year plan includes opening additional brick-and-mortar stores across the state.
 
"I can remember once upon a day imagining if I would ever be in this building," says Johnson. "And now here I sit and say, 'well here I am. If you build it, they will come.'"
 
To reserve your seat on the Spring Shopping Tour contact Kellie's Consignments at 517-574-4523.
 
Source: Kellie Johnson, owner, Kellie's Consignments
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor
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