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Entrepreneurship : Development News

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Grand River Barber Company brings urban cuts, retail to East Lansing

From yoga studios to nightlife, many of the businesses in East Lansing exist to serve the needs of students and other young adults. Until recently, however, there was one market that was being underserved. 
 
"My partner has friends in East Lansing they were all complaining that there were no barbershops here that could do an urban cut," says barber Doug Mrdeza, who began his career in Metro Detroit. "They would have to travel home to get a cut." 
 
Mrdeza and his partner have responded to that demand with the Grand River Barber Company in downtown East Lansing. The business, which opened Aug. 26, offers urban hairstyles for men, as well as a whole new take on the barbershop concept. 
 
"We have four 50-inch LCD screens and an X-Box, so when people are waiting they can play," says Mrdeza. "The whole atmosphere is very different."
 
In addition to the entertaining atmosphere, Grand River Barber Company is the the process of establishing a retail area, where they will carry attire and accessories. 
 
The 1,100 square foot barbershop currently employs Mrdeza, his business partner and one additional barber. Final renovations to the space are still underway, but Mrdeza says the community's response to the new business is already in full swing. He and his partner hope to grow into the business community as the shop grows, sponsoring local organizations such as youth sports leagues. 
 

Source: Doug Mrdeza, Grand River Barber Company
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor


Longtime S. Washington business opens REO Town Gardener retail space

With all that's shiny and new in REO Town these days, it's easy to look at even pre-existing businesses on S. Washington with new eyes. In the case of the more than 20-year-old business, Foliage Design Systems of Mid-Michigan, the double take is warranted. Previously a mostly business-to-business operation, the interior landscaping company has recently unveiled the REO Town Gardener, a new retail department offering patio and container gardening supplies to the public. 
 
"I've always wanted to have a retail outlet," says owner Jean Husby. "The right thing to do seemed to be to use it promote of healthy living in small spaces. Why not promote small gardening for as a hobby or for health purpose? You can use a windowsill to grow herbs or a salad garden." 
 
Husby says she is already experiencing an increase in foot traffic and general activity in REO Town since the completion of the streetscape project, Lansing Board of Water and Light development and entrance of new businesses into the neighborhood. It seemed like the perfect time to broaden her business' focus from just the back door to the storefront. 
 
"It's nice to see new foot traffic. There are ton of people passing by," Husby says. "Why not give them a reason to stop in?"
 
REO Town Gardener is located in a renovated 400 square foot space within the existing 7,000 square foot Foliage Design Systems building. The shop offers supplies for gardening in small containers, including a mix of Dr. Earth-brand products. Over the past year, Husby has increased her existing staff by one part- and one full-time position, and she has also hired a new employee for the new retail operations. 
 

Source: Jean Husby, REO Town Gardener/Foliage Design Systems of Mid-Michigan 
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Indoor Grow Store opens first of two stores, creates 13 jobs

Some people put up with the things that aggravate them; others just change them. Alex Manuel is among the latter, and the result has been a new invention, one new retail store, another in the works and plans to grow his business all over the state. 
 
The Indoor Grow Store opened two months ago on S. Cedar, and it all began with Manuel's desire to make the process of indoor growing better. When growing the indoor plants, he was dissatisfied with the local prices of supplies, as well as the devices available to trim the plants. 
 
"I bought a machine and it was nothing. It was bad," says Manuel. "I invented my own trimmer. It’s the best in the country." 
 
To solve the problem of the steep prices on local growing supplies, he then opened his own store. Manuel says his prices at the 2,000 square foot South Lansing store are lower, not only than other stores, but also most online stores. 
 
Manuel will open second, larger Indoor Grow Store near the Lansing Mall in six to eight weeks. After that, he says, the sky is the limit for expansion.
 
"We are planning to have a store in every city in Michigan," says Manuel. "If I stay healthy, we are going to expand as much as we can."
 
The current Indoor Grow Store employs a staff of five. The forthcoming store will employ seven to eight workers and will be in a 5,800 square foot location.
 

Source: Alex Manuel
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Lothamer Tax Resolution expands into new, 7,000 sq ft headquarters

Lothamer Tax Resolution has been in business for 30 years, but ever since the company began specializing in IRS and Michigan tax problems, their growth has been notable. Now with nine satellite offices and a staff of 18, the business has expanded into a new headquarters on Dunkel in Lansing. 
 
"We choose this location because it was central to the Lansing area and great access the highway," says Lothamer Tax Resolution Vice President Marketing Amy Lothamer of the 7,000 square foot space. "We needed more space to accommodate our growing company."
 
When an individual or business finds itself in an issue with a tax agency, it can be a scary time. Lothamer specializes in resolving these issues, a niche which Lothamer says was much needed. 
 
The firm moved into their new location in early September after completely renovating the interior of the facility and celebrated their grand opening last week. The company has been hiring one to two new professionals a year for the past several years, and anticipates hiring another one to two staff members in the upcoming year. 
 

Source: Amy Lothamer, Lothamer Tax Resolution
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Leopold Bloom and Co. to bring the curated past to Old Town

Tony Sump is more than just a seller of antiques and home décor. 
 
"I'm kind of a curator of the past," Sump says, "finding really great pieces that are solid and long forgotten and up-cycling them into something that is usable." 
 
Sump and business partner Doug Meeks will bring that passion for antiquities to their new Old Town shop, Leopold Bloom & Co. The store will carry antiques, new home décor, as well as a collection of local artisanal goods.
 
Sump and Meeks aren't new to the antiques game. They've had a small presence in Howell for two years, and recently expanded into the Grand Rapids market. It was while looking for a location for a warehouse between the two that the Old Town space presented itself, and their plans quickly changed.
 
"It was reasonable and fit the needs for a store," Sump says. "We thought, maybe we could drop one of the other locations move it here."
 
That's exactly what happened. After about six weeks of renovations, the 1,200 square foot Grand River location is set to open for the first time this Friday during an open house from 5:30 to 9:00pm. The grand opening will take place Oct. 7. Leopold Bloom & Co. will open with two employees in addition to Meeks and Sump. 
 

Source: Tony Sump, Leopold Bloom & Co. 
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Four Blank and Ten Design Group grows from home biz to Old Town storefront

Jeremy Mick's Four Blank & Ten Design Group may not be a brand new interior design firm, but its forthcoming move to an Old Town storefront is a big step from its home business roots. 
 
Four Blank & Ten Design Group is opening inside the new Leopold Bloom & Co. when it opens this month. The business, which specializes in a blend of traditional and modern design, has been in operation in one form or another since 2005. Its growth has been based on word-of-mouth referrals, but Mick expects that to change when he's in a highly visible Old Town location.
 
"My main motivation was to get more business," Mick says. "This is easier to find for clients, and if you have a street presence, people wander in."
 
The business will open along with Leopold Bloom & Co. this Friday during an open house from 5:30 to 9pm in the new Grand River location. Mick, who currently also works for the State of Michigan, hopes to see his business continue to grow into a fulltime venture. 
 

Source: Jeremy Mick, Four Blank & Ten
Writer: Natalie Burg, Develoment News Editor

New Leaf Salad Bar offers fast and fresh food to Frandor area diners

Leaf Salad Bar may be the newest addition to the Frandor shopping area, but the restaurant has been a long time coming. In fact, local entrepreneur and owner of East Lansing's Showroom Shine, Mark Sprinkel first came up with the concept in 1991. 
 
"I wanted to do it then," he says. "I never got around to it because the other business kept me pretty busy. When this location presented itself, I knew if I didn't do it now, I'd never do it." 
 
And did he ever. Within a month and a half, Sprinkel grabbed the 1,000 square foot location, partnered with local restaurateur Igor Jurkovic of Restaurant Mediteran and opened the doors of his new food concept: a gourmet salad bar for fast and healthy meals. 
 
In addition to offering 100 gourmet salad toppings for patrons to help themselves, weigh and pay by the pound, Leaf also serves soups, fruits and smoothies. The response, says Sprinkel, has been nearly overwhelming. 
 
"The concept got around fast. We're crazy busy. We've only be open three weeks and we have regular clientele," he says. "We're profitable in our first month."
 
Leaf now has a staff of ten. The restaurant seats 15 inside, six outside, offering take out service. Sprinkel is already thinking of adding an Okemos location next year and hopes to franchise the business. 

Source: Mark Sprinkel, Leaf Salad Bar
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Spherion brings unique staffing services to Old Town

Few things could be more optimistic signs for Lansing's job market than the opening of a new staffing agency. Spherion Staffing opened its doors in Old Town in July, and according to managing partner Brad Back, Lansing was just what the franchise's parent company, Randstad was looking for. 
 
"Lansing's market size is better serviced by an owner-operated store and we really liked what was happening with the Camero line being moved here," says Back. "We thought it was a great place to be in Michigan because of the diversity of industries here." 
 
After he and his wife both worked in corporate environments for some time. Back says he was attracted to Old Town because of the area's small town feel within the larger city. Similarly, the opportunity to own his own franchise allows him to exercise his entrepreneurial inclinations after working for Randstad for two years in Detroit. That small business feel, he says, will also be a benefit to clients. 
 
"We definitely have the service of an owner-occupied business, but the backing of a large corporation," Back syas. "A lot of these companies like the smaller service models, but sometimes you have to have the finances of a large company to staff these large customers." 
 
The 1,500 square foot Ranstad Staffing office is located at 106 E Grand River Ave in Lansing. The office has a staff of three, and Back says business in the first two months has exceeded expectations. 
 

Source: Brad Back, Spherion Staffing
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Velocipede Peddler peddles down Grand River to new East Lansing location

Mark Sanderson is good at keeping a secret. Long before the public learned a Whole Foods store would be coming to the Lansing area, he was in talks to sell his Grand River Ave. property to make way for the popular grocer. Now that the word is out, he has his own big news to share: his 38-year-old business, Velocipede Peddler is moving westward. 
 
"When I was right downtown [in East Lansing], I got lot of students, but I didn't have as many families," says Sanderson. "When I moved here, I lost some students, but gained a lot of families as clients. We felt this was an alternative where we can serve everyone."
 
The new home of the longtime bicycle business will be in a 4,800 square foot Brookfield Plaza space. Though the size will be similar to his current location, the layout will allow for an expansion of inventory and services. The new spot, between Bagger Dave's and Bikram Yoga Capital Area.
 
Though in a new location, Sanderson says customer can expect the same business ethic that has kept Velocipede Peddler in business for nearly four decades.
 
"I just try to give people want they want," he says. "I feel we have a really good service department. We have a friendly staff that is really knowledgeable."
 
Velocipede Peddler will open in its new location in early October. It currently employs a staff of eight to nine workers. Sanderson plans to hire a new mechanic and up to one additional staff member in the new location.
 

Source: Mark Sanderson, Velocipede Peddler
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Limner Press now front and center in Downtown Williamston

Limner Press is no stranger to Williamston, having made the town an artsier place for more than 25 years. The design, letterpress and art studio is now celebrating its new, more prominent location in the community – right in the center of downtown. 
 
"We moved because we had an opportunity to go onto Grand River," says Wendy Shaft, who owns Limner Press with her husband, Don Bixler. "Moving here has already increased our business."
 
Though slightly smaller than their longtime location, the downtown storefront has bolstered business in ways both expected and surprising. For instance, though the shop has always offered copier services, simply adding that to their sign on Grand River has attracted a steady stream of new customers. 
 
"Then they come in and see my art," says Shaft "and they see that I do wedding invitations. It's wonderful." 
 
Offering stellar customer service has always been, and continues to be at the center of Limner Press. – is currently working with her new lobby space to make it a cozy and inviting place for customers to meet and chat about their invitation and stationary needs. 
 
Limner Press moved to their new location in June. Shaft is looking forward to being a part of a growing community of wedding-related businesses in downtown Williamston. A collaboration of these store owners hope to offer a wedding-themed event this fall. 
 

Source: Wendy Shaft, Limner Press
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Capital Prime aims to be to-go steak restaurant in Lansing

With 31 years of restaurant experience that includes Beggar’s Banquet, Rick’s Café’, Harrison Roadhouse and The Nuthouse, Joseph Goodsir knew a gap in the local restaurant market when he saw it. 
 
"If you ask someone what's their favorite sushi place, they'd have an answer," says Goodsir. "If you ask people where their favorite place to get a steak is, it doesn't roll of the tongue."
 
Goodsir plans to change that with Capital Prime Steaks and Seafood in Eastwood Towne Center. The 250-seat restaurant will feature premium Certified Angus beef, free-range chicken, wild-caught fresh fish and seafood, and will have a focus on locally grown produce.
 
Though opening in the former Bar 30 location, Goodsir says Capital Prime will look and feel entirely different.
 
"It has a great feel," he says. "It's warm and inviting. If you were ever in Bar 30, when you walk into the place now, you won't recognize it."
 
Capital Prime is scheduled to have a soft opening at the end of August and a grand opening in September. Goodsir says one of the best features of the restaurant will be a talented and well-trained staff, which will number about 60. 


Source: Joseph Goodsir, Capital Prime
Writer: Natalie Burg

FLEX City Fitness doubles space with new Downtown Lansing location

It didn't take very long for FLEX City Fitness to hit its stride. Just a year and a half after opening, the small group fitness business is moving from its original, 1,000 square foot location to a new, 2,200 square foot space on Washington Square.
 
"We grew about 50 percent in our first year, and we just wanted to be able to accommodate the growth," says FLEX City Co-founder Jenny Quinn. "We also wanted to stay committed to Downtown Lansing. We really believe in what's going on here."
 
FLEX City Fitness combines the community support of class exercise with the attention of a personal trainer with small classes. The classes alternate cardio and strength training, and the workouts change so clients are always surprised with a new challenge. 
 
"We have indoor cycling, treadmills, barre and more," Quinn says. "The intervals change every day, the different pieces of equipment change, so it keeps people's bodies changing and guessing."
 
Along with the new space, FLEX is developing online classes for clients who may not be able to attend as often or students who may leave town during the summer. The new studio will also have new equipment to improve clients' experience.
 
FLEX City Fitness will open for its first class in the new location on Aug. 19. The business is operated by Quinn and her partner, Trista Parisian with the help of two interns. They hope to continue their growth to add new instructors in the future. 

Source: Jenny Quinn, FLEX Citiy Fitness
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Downtown Barber brings artistic cuts to Williamston

Terianne Parks is a barber, but contrary to what some people think, that doesn't mean she only cuts men's hair; it means she's an expert in cuts in general.
 
"I think of myself as a sculptor," says Parks. "The reason I went to barber school instead of beauty school, is that it's more about the cut."
 
Parks is bringing that specialty to Williamston with her new shop, Downtown Barber, which opened on Grand River last week. The business offers cuts for men, women and children, as well as coloring, highlights, dreadlocks, extensions and straightening.
 
"We have the best prices from here to Downtown Lansing. We have the same price for men and women," Parks says. "I love cutting hair. It' how I serve the community."
 
Parks opened Downtown Barber in partnership with her sister and brother-in-law. She plans to hire two additional barbers to join her in the 850 square foot shop soon. 

Source: Terianne Parks, Downtown Barber
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Experience and style come to Old Town with Matthew Ryan Salon

Matthew Ryan Salon just opened in Old Town, but the owner, after whom the business is named, has been on a path to owning his own salon his entire life. 
 
"It's something I've always been drawn to," says owner Matthew Ryan. "It's just very natural for me to be drawn to hair." 
 
After managing a 60-stylist salon in Columbus, Ohio, Ryan moved to the Lansing area to be certified as a stylist himself at Douglas J. Upon finishing his courses, he knew we wanted to open his own place, an the 1,500 square foot Old Town location was the perfect fit. 
 
"It's a beautiful space, with exposed brick and hardwood floors," Ryan says. "Were right in the middle of Old Town, which is such an up-and-coming area. It's going in a really good direction." 
 
Matthew Ryan Salon opened about a month ago and employs five experienced stylists. Ryan hopes the salon will continue to grow and he may add additional services the business' offerings as it does. 
 

Source: Matthew Ryan, Matthew Ryan Salon
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Mad Eagle grows jewelry line into new store with Clever Clover

Clever Clover began as a line of jewelry at East Lansing's Mad Eagle boutique. The collection of original jewelry designs gained such popularity that when a Grand River storefront recently opened up, it became its own shop. 
 
"We thought it was a good opportunity to focus on that jewelry line," says Tara Green, manager of Mad Eagle and Clever Clover. "It's less expensive than sterling silver, but it's really fun. 
 
Clever Clover opened up at 207 E. Grand River last month after renovations brought such artistic touches to the space as flooring made from up-cycled bleacher boards, jewelry cases from the former downtown Jacobson's and shelving made from reclaimed lumber.
 
"It's really important for us to emphasize recycling too," Green says. "We did it all ourselves, from finishing the floor to doing the walls, and everything else. It was a labor of love." 
 
In addition to the Clever Clover jewelry line, the new store features clothing, home goods, lotions and candles. Two new jobs have been created with the opening of the new shop. 

Source: Tara Green, Clever Clover
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor
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