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Entrepreneurship : Development News

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Loudpixel moves into new East Lansing office space

Loudpixel has been a company that could be located anywhere since its beginning in 2009. Though family was a driving force in the Chicago-born company's move to East Lansing in 2011, it's been the city itself that has kept the growing company in town, a location has been further cemented by their recent move to a permanent location in The State News building. 
 
"Spending a few months working in Washington DC really gave us an appreciation for East Lansing. It's a nice place to run a business," says owner Allie Osmar. "We bought a house in East Lansing, and we like the idea that we can walk to work. We wanted to that urban lifestyle we'd come from."
 
Loudpixel has grown about 30 percent per year, a purposely moderate pace that Osmar says is intended to produce sustainability over growth at any cost. Even with intentionally slow growth, the social media monitoring, analysis and reporting company has added two part-time positions in the last two years and is currently in the process of hiring one more. 
 
Along with a new location, Loudpixel is also beginning to offer new services to their clients, such as industry reports and consumer discovery reports.  
 
"We're also really enjoying consumer discovery reports," Osmar says. "We can go in and really help companies understand who their customers are, what they care about, and what are their interests are."
 

Source: Allie Osmar, Loudpixel
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Second Tamaki restaurant rolls into East Lansing

Tamaki is on a roll. After opening the quick, custom-made sushi spot at Frandor Shopping Center last year, restaurateur Frank Cheng  is now opening two more. One will bring his unique twist on sushi to Ann Arbor, and another will open in East Lansing's Brookfield Plaza.
 
"We've been looking for a place in East Lansing for some time," says Cheng. "Our customers who frequent Tamaki love it, and they want it closer to their place." 
 
The 2,000 square foot E. Grand River location will feature the same mix of rice bowls, noodles and custom-made sushi as the original, and will look similar in terms of decor. According to Cheng, the convenience of affordable, quick sushi made to order is perfect for East Lansing, with its large number of international students.
 
Cheng hopes to start renovations on the space soon and open the new Tamaki in August. The restaurant will employ about ten workers and seat 40 to 50 diners. 
 

Source: Frank Cheng, Tamaki
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Fastlane Powersports celebrates ribbon cutting in Mason

With a new name and owner, the business formerly known as Grove's Motorsports in Mason has all sorts of change underway. Though owner Jeff Giles managed it, as well as other power sports retailers for years, fans of the store will find new products, service professionals and more at the newly unveiled Fastlane Powersports.
 
"The former owner of this location owned multiple stores, and I was the operation manager for all of them," says new owner Jeff Giles. "He was wanting to retire, so we came to an agreement."
 
Giles says the timing was right for him to take on ownership of his own store. Though he says the recession hit the "toy market" particularly hard, things are beginning to look up. 
 
"We had to survive some very tough times, and I truly believe the last couple of years have shown that we're moving in the right direction," says Giles. "Not everyone survived, so there's a lot less competition nowadays." 
 
Fastlane Powersports features all new parts and accessories, as well as new faces in the services and sales departments. With a staff of 10, Giles has added three new employees, and hopes to add another two to three in the upcoming months. He has already completed some interior renovations of the new store, and plans to start on exterior renovations soon.
 

Source: Jeff Giles
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Piggee's Smokehouse and BBQ brings home cooking to W. Saginaw

There's good news for fan's of Uncle Larry's BBQ, formerly of Downtown Lansing. Owner Larry Piggee has taken his talents to W. Saginaw, opening  Piggee's Smokehouse and BBQ last week in the former Turkeyman location. 
 
The 1,500 square foot restaurant serves the kind of homemade cooking Piggee learned from his parents and grandmother growing up. The barbeque recipes come from him father, and he credits his mother for teaching him about his delicious sides. 
 
"I've been cooking. I've been in kitchens since I was child," says Piggee. "My mother and grandmother always had me help the out."
 
In addition to his barbequed meets. Piggee offers mac and cheese, bacon cheddar salads, red beans and rice, and blueberry applesauce, with new rotating sides every week.
 
Piggee has been working to develop Piggee's Smokehouse and BBQ since April. He currently offers dine-in service and catering, and hopes to soon offer delivery as well. The new restaurant employs a staff of four. 
 

Source: Larry Piggee, Piggee's Smokehouse & BBQ
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

The Runway to return fashion to the Knapp's Building in 2014

For decades, when young fashion designers wanted to make it in the industry, the obvious decision was to pack up and move to New York, Paris, London or precious few other fashion-centric cities. Could Lansing be the next hot spot for aspiring designers?
 
If it sounds far-fetched, consider the fact that The Runway, Lansing's forthcoming fashion business incubator isn't being created in the hopes that fashion talent will find their way to the city; it's to begin harnessing all of the fashion-based entrepreneurship that is already here. 
 
"When Jeff Smith and I were came on, we were evaluating and were looking for a unique thing we don't have an incubator for yet," says Co-Director the New Economy Division for Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP). We kept running into people who were starting their own fashion lines. There are a number of people who are getting formally trained in this area, and there are lot more people who are dabbling in it on the side."
 
On track to open in January of 2014, The Runway will soon be under construction in an 8,200 square foot space in the Knapp's Building, including a floor level and mezzanine level. The first floor will offer a flexible space for the designers in residence to sell their work, as well as events. The mezzanine level will include 13 offices.
 
Not only is The Runway a great fit for a community with so much fashion talent, says Szymusiak, but also because of the very building it will be a part of. 
 
"This is bringing fashion back to the most iconic department store in the area," he says. "The retail space for tenants will really bring that back to the Knapp's Building."
 
LEAP is the service provider for The Runway, which is funded by the Lansing Economic Development Corp. 


Source: Ken Szymusiak, LEAP
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Suburban Antiquarian celebrates ribbon cutting in Williamston

Marc Leigh has long been a collector, having worked refurbishing antique furniture for some time. When a move from Massachusetts to Michigan took him from one such job and being laid off ended his time with another, he decided it was time to go into the antique business for himself, opening the Suburban Antiquarian in Williamston
 
"A few years ago a local artist contacted Dr. Keller about turning his space into artist studios, and my wife was one of the first artists to rent a space up there," says Leigh. "Because of that I got to know Dr. Keller and everything just kind of fell into place."
 
In his 250 square foot space, Leigh sells some art, collectables, toys, vintage vinyl and furniture from his own collection, as well as from the inventory he collects at auctions and estate sales. 
 
"It's really just about anything I come across. I do have quite a bit of vintage vinyl," Leigh says. "There will always be something different when you go up there. I try to keep the store as fresh as possible."
 
The Suburban Antiquarian celebrated its ribbon cutting in June. Leigh recently launched a website for the store. 
 

Source: Marc Leigh, Suburban Antiquarian
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Longtime Lansing restaurant becomes Fireside Grill, expands footprint and staff

Fireside Grill is set to open in Dimondale in a couple of weeks, and area diners can expect to the restaurant to offer something new, as well as something familiar. After 17 years in business, Lansing's Barley's American Grill closed a few months ago, only to reopen under the new name in a new location and with a different style of food. 
 
"We're adding pasta dishes, fresh seafood and prime rib," says owner Ed Hall. "If you want fries, we'll have an Idaho potato right in front of us, we'll cut it up and fry it on the spot. Things will be more fresh." 
 
Hall intends for the emphasis to be on the food itself. While Barley's American Grill operated on about 50 percent alcohol sales, he hopes to see the food at Fireside Grill become front and center. The restaurant will have both a dining area as well as a pub area with different menus.
 
Fireside Grill will open in a 12,000 square foot location that is more than twice the size of Hall's former bar and restaurant. Hall hopes to capitalize on his new, Dimondale location as well. 
 
"There's nothing in this area," Hall says. "People are always driving through here to get to a restaurant somewhere else. I want to offer those people something on this side of town."
 
Hall will retain his Barley's American Grill staff, but will add about 25 new jobs to staff the new restaurant. Fireside Grill will open in two phases, first with a smaller dining area and abbreviated menu before the entire restaurant is open for business.


Source: Ed Hall, Fireside Grill
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Michigan-based Franklin Vine to bring accessories and fun to Meridian Mall

If you think you think national chains are the only kind of retailer found in malls, a new store coming to Meridian Mall in August will surprise you. Franklin Vine, a women's accessory store in Ann Arbor's Briarwood Mall is opening a second location in Okemos. 
 
"We were contacted by Meridian Mall telling us about a great location and opportunity that was available," says owner Nicole Pierce. "After months of thought and consideration we came to a conclusion that Meridian Mall would be a great location for Franklin Vine." 
 
Pierce's story is nearly as unexpected than finding a small business in the mall. A graduate from Wayne State University in Life Science, Pierce couldn't find the job she wanted in her field, so she went from life science to retail science in 2011 with the opening of her first Franklin Vine. 
 
Pierce says the 900 square foot store in Meridian Mall will offer shoppers shoes, handbags, jewelry, scarves, hats, and leggings that are fresh from big name designers. 
 
"We hand-pick our pieces, traveling to New York and LA often looking for pieces that big box stores and other boutiques do not offer," Pierce says. "We try and avoid ordering online; we like to see it and touch it before we buy it. Often we will have trends before they are even a trend in chains stores."
 
Franklin Vine will open in the first week of August and will employ a staff of five. In addition to retail inventory, the shop offers in-store parties and styling services for events. 

Source: Nicole Pierce, Franklin Vine
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

REO Town to get old-timey with new Vintage Cafe

Lansing doesn't get more vintage than REO Town, making it the perfect place for Kait Medrano to open her forthcoming Vintage Café and Catering. That face that she's lived there her entire life didn't hurt either. 
 
"I'm a Southside Lansing-type person. I've owned a house about a quarter of a mile away from here since I was 19 years old," says Medrano. "I liked the fact that they're redoing the street down here, but keeping that old time, vintage, REO Town feel."
 
Medrano plans to open her 900 square foot S. Washington St. restaurant by August 1, though visitors will be invited in for a sneak peek on July 1 during the Board of Water and Light's Going Commercial Grand Opening. Patrons will get a chance to try her made-from-scratch cooking, such as monkey bread, roasted potatoes, quiche and coffee custom roasted for the restaurant. 
 
"We bake all our own baked goods. You can cut time, but you also cut flavor and quality," says Medrano, who worked as the catering supervisor for McLaren Greater Lansing until her position was eliminated. "Ever since I was eliminated, everyone asked, 'will you just cater somewhere else now?'"
 
Vintage Café will also feature catering and will host events. Medrano employs a staff of five and someday hopes to grow into a franchise. 

Source: Kait Medrano, Vintage Cafe and Catering
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

ASK expands with 1,700 sq ft addition, new staff

Lansing IT company ASK recently celebrated two milestones: the company's 20-year anniversary, and the 1,700 square foot expansion of their office on Sovereign Dr.
 
The expansion was a necessary one, as the company's growth trend has continued. Adding four new positions over the last year, ASK is now up to 21 employees. A great number of those are senior level technical consultants, which, says Maddox, allows the company to better serve customers. 
 
"We've added more staff again this year, so our growth has continued," says ASK President Mike Maddox. "What's really been nice about the expansion is having our two teams in the same network operation center, because there's a lot of natural collaboration between them."
 
The new space was made possible when a suite next to ASK vacated, and the company was able to work with landlord Dart Development to renovate the space to the IT firm's needs. Working with Lansing's DBI, ASK outfitted the expanded office with more collaborative and enjoyable workspaces. 
 
"It's a lot bigger and there's nice, floor-to-ceiling light," Maddox says. "The mood is elevated by virtue of the natural light, and then we put in a TV and game room for when they're here over weekends or waiting for things."
 
Maddox says he expects ASK to continue to grow over the next several years. The company will also be working to develop new ways to take advantage of newer technologies for their clients.

Source: Mike Maddox, ASK
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Head Room Salon doubles space, grows staff in new Old Town location

After 12 years of helping to grow and shape Old Town into the vibrant district it is today, one of its longtime tenants is doing some growing of her own. Kendra Cosme's Head Room Salon recently opened in a brand new space, doubling the popular salon's footprint. Though the jump in size was dramatic, Cosme's love of Old Town ensured that it wasn't a big move in terms of distance. 
 
"We were in Old Town back when it was a ghost down. There were no businesses around us. Everybody thought we were crazy for being there, but being in Old Town was the best decision I ever made." 
 
Despite pressure to look elsewhere, Cosme spent years looking for the right building to come available in Old Town. Finally, she purchased a 2,200 square foot space on N. Washington in August and her family set to work renovating it. 
 
"The building is beautiful," says Cosme. "It was really a family project. I had some ideas, but other people made them come to life." 
 
The $220,000 investment has doubled Head Room Salon in more ways than just space. Cosme's staff jumped from six to 10 employees, and she says there's room to add more in the future.
 

Source: Kendra Cosme, Head Room Salon
Writer: Natalie Burg

Williamston Sport & Spine brings family chiropractic business to Grand River

Chiropractic is in the blood of Krystal Siminski's family, having grown up with her father in the business. After becoming a chiropractor herself and working for her father in Owosso for some time, Siminski and her husband, fellow chiropractor Kyle Zimmerman, decided to open their own clinic. They're now celebrating the opening of Williamston Sport and Spine on W. Grand River. 
 
"My husband learned about Chiropractic through my family," says Siminski. "We just decided we wanted to branch out and start like my father did from the ground up." 
 
It was family that brought the new chiropractors to Williamston, as Simiski's sister also has a local business, the children's store Buttons and Beanstalks. The 700 square foot clinic opened three weeks ago. Williamston Sport and Spine offers several different chiropractic techniques, as well as massage therapy.
 
"We're very sports-minded, but we don't limit ourselves to that," Siminski says. 
 
Williamston Sport and Spine currently employs Siminski, Zimmerman and a receptionist, and they are looking to hire a fulltime massage therapist as well. 
 

Source: Krystal Siminski, Williamston Sport and Spine
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

What Up Dawg? looks to expand into Downtown Lansing

The East Lansing restaurant known as the hot spot for hot dogs is continuing to grow with an eye on Downtown Lansing. What Up Dawg? recently expanded their sales with a new downtown hot dog cart, and is hoping to be the newest business in the bustling block of Michigan Ave. that includes The Loft and The Tin Can. 
 
"One of the owners of this building saw us and they really weren't interested in doing their own food, they just wanted to book musical acts," co-owner of What Up Dawg Seth Tompkins says. "They are trying to provide an atmosphere on that block where you can go to multiple venues all at the same stop." 
 
The new space would operate as a "What Up Dawg Express" says Tompkins, offering an abbreviated menu from a 400 square foot location. The format would be similar to other food businesses on the block, and be believes the location would be a great fit for What Up Dawg. 
 
"With the convention center there and all those bars, its great, and it's about two blocks from the Capitol," Tompkins says. "And what I really like about this location is that it's a good location in July, and good location in September."
 
While plans for the new location are still pending, Tompkins says he hopes to open by August if possible. In addition to the new staff member hired to operate the hot dog cart that is open daily on the corner of Washington and Ottawa downtown, the express restaurant would create two new positions. 
 

Source: Seth Tompkins, What Up Dawg?
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Black Box Tattoos brings creative energy, three jobs to Delta Twp.

When the only tattoo shop on Lansing's west side closed several months ago, local tattoo artist Troy Albert saw an opportunity to fill the void. He opened Black Box Tattoo Studio in a 1,600 square foot W. Saginaw space in April. 
 
"On this side of town there was only studio for a long time," says Albert. "After they closed up it was an opportunity to step into a place and raise the standard of the tattoos around here."
 
Albert's interest in his current career grew from his love of art, and he found his way to tattooing as a way to create a sustainable job in the arts. 
 
"There aren't too many job opportunities out there for artists," Albert says. "A lot of people do street art and murals and just have to be the starving artist. With tattooing, it's a good job where you can show your creativity and be who you are while doing it." 
 
Black Box Tattoo Studio employs three tattoo artists, and Albert says the staff's attention to detail and care paid to each customer sets the business apart. 
 
"We try to raise the bar," says Albert. "We really want to work with the customers, so they're very happy. We don’t like to rush tattoos."
 
Albert encourages people to visit the shop even if they're unsure about getting a tattoo, as he and his staff are happy to answer questions and talk about ideas. Examples of their work can be seen on the Black Box Tattoo Facebook page
 

Source: Troy Albert, Black Box Tattoo
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

New resale shop opens on Southside, offers space to sellers

After reselling items of their own for some time, Al Labrecque and Karen Greer decided to make a business out of the practice, opening Alveda's Resale Shop on S. Waverly in March. 
 
"We wanted to open something on the south side of town, because there's nothing like this on this side of Lansing," says Labrecque. "We talked about it and decided to do it."
 
The new 1,200 square foot store sells a variety of new and resale items, including toys, collectables, electronics and more. In addition to selling their own items, Labrecque and Greer have 12 small rental booths for other resellers. Two booths are currently occupied, and the remainder are available for rental. 
 
"Our goal was to be different," Labrecque says. "I've been told we look at lot nicer and we have some better stuff than the other shops."
 
Alveda's Resale Shop will celebrate its grand opening this Friday. The store currently employs both owners, as well as receiving staffing help from a family member. 
 

Source: Al Labrecque, Alveda's Resale Shop
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor
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