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Conquest Fitness raises the bar with affordable, state-of-the-art facility

The health, fitness and performance-minded in Greater Lansing have a new option for the New Year as two fitness centers joined forces to create a new facility unlike any other in Michigan.
 
Conquest Fitness, say owners and operators, will take the gym experience to a whole new level with a fitness center, performance training center, and onsite medical partners. Developers broke ground on the 26,000-square foot mega fitness center in March 2016, and opened the doors the day after Christmas to accommodate those looking to up their fitness resolutions.
 
"Our goal was to build a new fitness center in the community, one very different than the standard," says Conquest Fitness Co-owner Andre Hutson who will run day-to-day operations. "We're providing an excellent weight training area, a robust cardio area, up to 35 fitness classes a week—all for individuals who like to get after it."
 
The new DeWitt facility will also feature a performance center geared toward athletes. The center will be operated through a franchise agreement with the California-based Velocity Sports Performance—a company that has trained hundreds of professional athletes in nearly every sport. Velocity also boasts a massive youth program—something Hutson says he is proud to bring to mid-Michigan and to student athletes in the K-12 community.
 
"My passion is for health and wellness and seeing kids grow and become better athletes," says Hutson, a former professional basketball player and member of the Michigan State University 2000 NCAA Championship team. "Mid-Michigan has been good to me, and this is where my life has led me—into health and wellness and giving more opportunity to people in our community."
 
To round out the comprehensive fitness programs, the new Conquest Fitness in DeWitt will house medical partners to support physical performance services. Physical therapy, athletic trainers and sports medicine services are on site. Other features include meeting and event space, a smoothie bar, and decked-out locker and steam rooms.
 
Conquest Fitness resulted from the merge of BStrong Fitness of DeWitt and Conquest Health & Fitness, and will serve members through two locations: the new facility at 13575 S. Airport Road and at Eagle Eye in Bath. Hutson and partners Dr. Pat Quain, David Mollitor and Scott Gillespie will oversee the growth and management of the two facilities by drawing on their varied backgrounds in athletics, medicine, business and development. 
 
Conquest Fitness will employ 20 to 30 people, serve up to 2,500 members, and accommodate training services for about 100 K-12 students a month.
 
Source: Andre Hutson, Co-owner/operator, Conquest Fitness
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.
 

Red's Smokehouse gets down to business on Lansing's east side

Carol Smith has been serving up her signature barbecue in mobile or market spaces for two years. In November, the owner and founder of Red's Smokehouse Burgers and BBQ decided to settle down in a space not too far from where she started.
 
For the past two months, Smith and her partner Jacke Randall have been transforming a 1,400-square foot space into a community-oriented smokehouse and restaurant. When finished, Smith's first brick-and-mortar eatery at 1619 Kalamazoo St. will seat up to 25 guests, employ six to eight staff, and serve up the signature barbecue items that have attracted a loyal and growing following in Greater Lansing.
 
"It was always the dream to have my own little space where I can enjoy making food, and sit and talk with people," says Smith. "It's so exciting. And it feels really good to come back."
 
Smith originally launched Red's Smokehouse in early 2014 through the incubator kitchen of the Allen Market Place—a food-based community organization behind the soon-to-be restaurant. Since then, Smith has been smoking at various locations, including the Lansing City Market and a food trailer, as well as participating in weekly farmer's markets through Allen Market Place.
 
In addition to her signature items that include pulled pork, deep-friend macaroni balls, nachos and tacos, Smith says the future restaurant will feature her signature items like pulled pork, deep-fried macaroni balls, tacos and burgers, as well as a deli with take-out meats, artisan cheeses and other items from Allen Market Place vendors. Deli customers can also opt for Smith's homemade salads and some of her smoked meats.
 
Smith says her goal is to build on the community that helped her get started in the business. She envisions a space decked out with reclaimed wood and bright colors.
 
"We have eclectic taste when it comes to decorating," she says. "It will be a little rustic with a modern twist."
 
During the build-out, Red's will be prepping and offering foods through the Avenue Café on the East Side, as well as through the Allen Market Place. She hopes to have the restaurant open by February or March.
 
Red's Smokehouse is currently in the midst of a crowdfunding campaign to help offset the $80,000 renovation costs. To find out more or to contribute, visit the website here.
 
 

Gracie's Contemporary Bistro offers upscale dining in low-key, casual setting

Quality dining in a small-town atmosphere is no further than 15 to 20 minutes from downtown Lansing.
 
Open since July, Gracie's Contemporary Bistro offers upscale food in an informal atmosphere, building on the quaint, historic feel of downtown Williamston.
 
"We offer something a little different," says Manager Emily Gray. "We're not necessarily fine dining, and we don't want to be a bar. We simply want to be the spot where you can get out of the city and have a modern, dining experience."
 
Located at 151 N. Putnam, the bistro transitioned in mid-summer from the former Gracie's Place after being purchased by Nick Gavrilides, owner of the Soup Spoon Café on Lansing's east side. The restaurant retained the tin ceilings, wood floors and granite countertops, and added a flair of black and white to accentuate the contemporary offerings on the menu.
 
Gracie's serves fine food with an artistic presentation. In keeping with a farm to table concept, the menu leans toward comfort foods prepared with local ingredients. Selections rotate, with signature dishes featuring lamb shank, pan seared rainbow trout, filet mignon and pastas made with shrimp or scallops. A selection of salads, soups, vegetables and bread round out the menu, as well as specialty cakes and puddings for dessert.
 
A full apothecary style bar features six beers on tap, bottled beer and pre-prohibition style cocktails made with fresh-squeezed juices and house ingredients. A broad selection of specialty wines from Michigan and around the world is available.
 
The restaurant seats up to 75 people, and can accommodate groups for parties or special occasions. When the weather permits, an outdoor patio seats about 30 diners. About 25 staff from servers to chefs work onsite, including three from the previous Gracie's and a few transfers from the Soup Spoon.
 
"We’re called a contemporary bistro for a reason," says Gray. "We want you to come here and have a fabulous dining experience, but we also want to stay loose enough so someone can come here in their shorts or jeans. We play contemporary music, dim the lights at night for a little more formal feel. But we don't want you to feel scared to come in if you're not formally dressed."
 
Gracie's Contemporary Bistro is open Tuesdays through Saturdays for lunch and dinner, with Monday hours on the horizon.
 
Source: Emily Gray, Manager, Gracie's Contemporary Bistro
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.
 

Manafold Games brings fantasy to downtown Williamston

Justin McVay and his wife Nina Gucciardo are up for adventure. In mid-November, they invited others to join by opening the doors on a new store focused on role-playing games.
 
The husband-wife team opened Manafold Games in mid-November after investing their savings and a month of sweat equity into refurbishing an older storefront. Customers entering the shop at 115 W. Grand River in downtown Williamston are greeted by freshly painted blue walls, a silver floor, and a series of shelves alternating with white pillars. Reclaimed glass cabinets, an exposed brick wall exhibiting local artists, and tables and chairs round out the atmosphere of the 1,300-square foot shop designed both for retail and as a social hub for the board and card gaming community.
 
"Our goal is to be a community center as much as a friendly game store," says McVay. "We're modeling ourselves on successful game stores like the Vault of Midnight in Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor. They have a very bright atmosphere that's friendly to the average consumer."
 
Manafold will stock an inventory of popular contemporary board and role-playing games including the Dead of Winter, the Legend of Zelda Monopoly, Game of Thrones Clue and some classic vintage games. The shop will also host drop-in events for role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, collectable card games like Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh!, and unofficial Magic the Gathering nights. In time, McVay says he hopes to have tournaments, with registration taken in advance. He also hopes to branch into starting a euchre league in the coming year.
 
"I've been wanting to open a game store for about 10 years," says McVay. "I like games mostly because of the art, and also because of the empathy and competitive aspects. A really good game outlines all of human  nature. You can learn very quickly about people by playing games."
 
Source: Justin McVay, Owner, Manafold Games
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.
 

Home grown manufacturer of industrial chillers opts to expand in Lansing

Lansing-based manufacturer Fluid Chillers will invest $1.4 million to purchase and redevelop a vacant facility at 3005 Alpha Access Drive on Lansing's South Side. The company's expansion is expected to create 15 new jobs in the region within the next three years.
 
Founded in 2007, Fluid Chillers custom designs and builds chillers for industry, medicine and aerospace. The company's list of Fortune 500 customers includes General Motors, Toyota, Dow, General Electric, BP, 3M and Boeing.
 
Company President Tim Ayers says that Fluid Chillers had been eyeing sites outside the Lansing area before they found the property.
 
"This location is important for our future so that we remain central to our employees and the property has enough room for us to continuously add space as required,” says Ayers. "We found South Lansing to be a great location for our business, with access to airport service, trucking, and a lot of localized companies that provide us with products that go into our systems.”
 
Fluid Chillers employs 34 manufacturing and service workers, and grew by 35 percent last year. The combination of growth and expansion plans prompted the company to purchase the vacant 14,000 square-foot building just down the road from its current facility. 
 
Fluid Chillers will invest $600,000 to renovate the building sited on 5.44 acres and add an additional 36,000 square feet. Fluid Chillers will also continue operations in its current 20,000-square foot building at 2730 Alpha Access Drive.
 
The company requested a 12-year, $328,740 brownfield reimbursement from the city to cover the costs of making the building useable.  The project is contingent upon Lansing City Council’s approval of the brownfield plan and additional State of Michigan support.
 
“On behalf of the City of Lansing, LEAP is proud to facilitate the growth of yet another Metro Lansing company that is an important part of the region’s manufacturing base,” said Karl Dorshimer, director of Business Development at the Lansing Economic Area Partnership. “Economic development incentives are a vital ingredient in helping local companies like Fluid Chillers overcome the extraordinary costs associated with redeveloping vacant buildings on brownfield sites.”
 
Source: Fluid Chillers and M3 Group
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.
 

Blue Owl Coffee Company takes flight for landing by early 2017

Nick Berry loves coffee. He has since he was 15. And it's a love brewed from the life-changing events that happened over a cup of java in a coffee shop.
 
Now, joined by two friends, Berry will open a community space in Lansing's REO Town where people of all ages can enjoy coffee, community and art. He and his partners will also roll out the coffee experience through a wood and steel cart on wheels at events or on city sidewalks during permitted seasons.
 
In September, Berry launched Blue Owl Coffee with friends Rich Whitman and Adam Klein. Providing a special blend of coffee through a customized bike cart was initially a marketing strategy for the upcoming coffee shop. After word and popularity took hold, the Blue Owl Team directed their focus on opening a brick-and-mortar venue at 1149 S. Washington in REO Town.
 
"This whole thing—starting with a blue owl—came from a dream," says Berry. "It's all about taking your dream for something and sticking with it."
 
The space—vacant for about 30 years—is undergoing a build-out and re-do. Expectations are to open Blue Owl Coffee sometime in January 2017. To date, Berry has introduced community members to the upcoming shop through informal art and music events at the site.
 
"People came for a bit to hang out," says Berry. "We did a jazz night, and did some donation-based events. We want to show people the space before it opens, and to show them that this isn’t your typical coffee shop—it's your shop."
 
The Blue Owl Coffee Company will deck out the long neglected interior with hand-selected and handmade furniture, fixtures and décor—all keeping with the industrial heritage of REO Town.
 
"We’re building it ourselves," says Berry. "It's going to be pretty fun, and we're going to create an aesthetic that captures the industrial nature of this beautiful building."
 
Blue Owl Coffee serves up a variety of special coffees using beans supplied through the local Craft & Mason and Bloom Coffee Roasters. Signature javas include a nitro cold brew kegged coffee, as well as coffees that draw on different flavor notes akin to wine and beer. The upcoming shop will seat about 65 people and is expected to create a few part-time jobs.
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.
 

EnVie brings a French twist to dining in downtown Lansing

James Cheskaty is a connoisseur. He loves food. He loves fine dining. And he loves the culture that surrounds it.
 
After working as a chef on Lansing's fine dining scene since 2010, Cheskaty joined restaurant colleague and friend Lance Davis in creating their own casual, upscale venue with a twist on French cuisine. EnVie is slated to open before the end of 2016. The new restaurant will be located downtown at 210 S. Washington Square in the previous Brannigan Brothers.
 
"We both worked together for about five or six years," says Cheskaty. "He was the general manager and I was the sous chef. We had the chance to open our own place, and since I know the back-of-the-house and he knows all about service and dining, it all fit together."
 
EnVie will showcase dining in the French bistro style—complete with white table clothes, full service and a full bar. The restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as a grab-and-go menu with pre-made sandwiches and soups for busy lunch hours.
 
Dishes will be prepped from scratch and include classic dishes like filet mignon and ratatouille. The menu will feature just 21 items and rotate daily to ensure guests can sample a different French dish with every visit. Desserts made in-house, European style, locally roasted coffee, and high-end French wines round out the experience.
 
"French cuisine has always been fascinating to me," says Cheskaty. "It focuses on flavors and techniques, which means you can apply it to any other cuisine you want. If you know French cuisine, you have a deep understanding of food."
 
EnVie will accommodate 80 guests in the main restaurant, with French doors leading to patio seating for about 15 people. The restaurant will feature two semi-private dining rooms, as well as an area to enjoy a glass of wine next to a fireplace. Cheskaty says he and Davis have done a full renovation of the former Brannigan Brothers, resulting in clean lines within a black and white décor accented by Edison bulbs.
 
EnVie will create 15 to 20 jobs with Cheskaty as executive chef and Davis as general manager.
 
"It's a fairly high-end concept," says Cheskaty. "Lansing has an upper echelon palate for food. There's a bunch of foodies here. That's where the idea and need for EnVie came from."
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.
 

Everstream makes Michigan home in Knapp's Centre

A superregional fiber-based network service provider committed to growing jobs and investing in the region's economy is opening a Michigan office in Lansing's historic Knapp's Centre at 300 W. Washington Square.
 
Everstream will occupy more than 6,000-square feet of space on the center's first floor and expects to move staff into the new office in early January. After acquiring GLC/Comlink in June, the Cleveland-based company added 12 employees to its Michigan staff, with expectations to grow from 42 to 50 team members by 2017.
 
"The new office in downtown Lansing is a better fit with the company's culture. It has an open floor plan to facilitate communication among team members," says Brett Lindsey, president and chief executive officer of Everstream. "We're a transparent company. We share an immense amount of information with our team members on a regular basis to make certain that everybody is up to speed with what's going on in the organization."
 
A key for Everstream, Lindsey says, is expanding contiguous markets while retaining the levels of service customers expect. The expanded service area will enable the company to provide enterprise businesses, carriers, partners and wireless carriers with connectivity from Cleveland through Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids, over to Milwaukee, down to Chicago, South Bend, and Columbus, before ending back in Cleveland.
 
Executive Vice President and General Manager Pat O'Leary will lead the Michigan team.
 
"This is an amazing time for Everstream," says O'Leary. "The business is committed to growing. We continue to attract some of the best talent available, including young talent who want to learn the industry and grow with us."
 
Founded in 2014, Everstream brings fiber-based Ethernet, internet and data center solutions to businesses throughout the Midwest. With more than 9,500 miles of fiber across five states and comprehensive data center connectivity at 10 gigabit speed, the superregional network service provider allows businesses to operate a converged IP network capable of delivering robust voice, video and data services at speeds from 10mbps to 10gbps. 
 
Source: Sue Scarpino, Marketing and Communications, Everstream
Writer/Editor: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.
 
 

Modern Groomers helps every pooch make a positive impression

Jessica Moore recalls her grandfather every day she steps into her shop on the busy corner of Vine and Homer Streets just west of the Frandor Shopping Center in Lansing.
 
And when she picks up the tools of her trade, she knows she's building on a passion and family tradition for making customers feel good about the way they look.
 
Although Moore's customers have four legs and a tail, the services she provides through Modern Groomers are similar to the shave and a haircut her grandfather provided a generation ago. That's why, she says, she chose to base the name of her one-year-old upscale dog and cat grooming salon after Modern Barbers—a shop her late grandfather had founded before she was born.
 
"The pet grooming industry is quite saturated, but there is always a need for somebody who is caring and loving," says Moore. "My clients are my own, and we focus on one family at a time when they're here."
 
The 2008 graduate of East Lansing High School always knew she wanted to do something with animals, but didn't feel vet school was her track. Instead, she combined her passions for animals, creative expression and entrepreneurship into a career in grooming dogs and occasional cats.
 
"It's just kind-of the way that we've grown up," says Moore about her family's entrepreneurial streak. "My mom used to help my grandpa in his shop, and also has her own wedding and events planning business. It's been passed down. We are believers in doing what you love, not working in a job that you don't have a passion about."
 
Moore earned her degree from the Michigan School of Canine Cosmetology in Lansing in 2011, and then applied her skills in various settings before striking out on her own. She grooms about five to six dogs a day in her cage-free, 1,500-square foot space. She also grooms cats on request.
 
Services are provided by appointment only and include bath, nail trim, ear cleaning, hand stripping, hand drying, and expressing anal glands. Her grooming style, she says, can range from traditional to creative, with some dogs leaving with coats of different colors.
 
"My goal now and into the future is to just continue helping to serve Lansing, and to make every dog the best they possibly can," she says. "I do that in a loving and friendly environment. Lots of love goes into every dog."
 
Source: Jessica Moore, Owner, Modern Groomers
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.
 

Newby Teas bases North American operations in East Lansing

Raji Singh never thought she would discover her calling through tealeaves. Today, the 2014 graduate of Michigan State University is a brand ambassador for an international tea company that recently selected East Lansing as its base for breaking in to the North American market.
 
With 15 offices in Europe and Asia, Newby Teas of London was looking to expand across the Atlantic. And Singh—a Newby team member with roots in Mid-Michigan—stepped up to make it happen.
 
After earning a degree in political science from MSU's James Madison College, Singh worked in international trade and moved to London. Once there, she heard about Newby Teas and landed a job with the company's sales, marketing and tea tasting team in late 2015.
 
"I fell in love with the brand and the mission," says Singh. "When they told me they didn't have a presence in North America, we decided it might be an opportunity for me to bring the tea back here."
 
Having grown up in Okemos, Singh felt at home in mid-Michigan, and sought out the support and resources through the MSU Product Center, the Lansing Economic Area Partnership, the City of East Lansing, and the Small Business Development Center. By March 2016, she was able to open an office in the East Lansing Marriott Center, and slate a grand opening for August.
 
Newby Teas sells tea and gifts inside luxury hotels, and is available to individuals through an online boutique. As a brand ambassador, Singh plans to expand the product's availability in hotels across the U.S., starting in big city markets like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.
 
As well as supplying teas sourced from Nepal, India, Kenya, China, Japan and Taiwan, Newby Teas advances educational and charity-based causes. Singh points out that the Marriott office features an educational room that can accommodate up to 20 people for demonstrations and seminars. The company recently participated as a sponsor and vendor at Kaleidoscope--a health and education event for women through the Sparrow Foundation.
 
"This is an organization based on passion, education and cause," says Singh. "I'm really enjoying it, and believe in what we're doing."
 
The North American Office of Newby Teas of London employs four staff and is located inside the East Lansing Marriott at 333 Albert Ave., Suite 633.
 
 
Source: Raji Singh, Brand Ambassador, Newby Teas of London
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.
 

M3 Group puts plans in motion to reinvent 19th century church for new headquarters

A full-service branding and publication agency that started out 14 years ago from an in-home office is making a move that will provide more space to a growing staff.
 
In July, the M3 Group purchased a landmark church building on the corner of Seymour Avenue and Saginaw Street with plans to renovate and make the 19th century structure their 21st century home. The group's CEO and Founder Tiffany Dowling budgeted $625,000 to reinvent the church's interior, and envisions an open, airy atmosphere that fosters collaboration and creative thinking.
 
"Lots of people might say we could have people work at home and we don't need this adjustment," says Dowling. "But we're a creative group and the type of organization that likes to collaborate and brainstorm. You want people together to make that happen easier."
 
The M3 Group is currently lodged in two offices, located side-by-side in the 600 block of Seymour Avenue. Dowling says she has always had a crush on the 1892 church, and imagined making the structure their next home when the time came.
 
Dowling will expand the 6,800-square foot property by about 1,200-square feet by adding a mezzanine and upgrading the garden level. She is working with REO Town's Studio Intrigue to pull together ideas, including glass walls, modern furnishing, work stations or "pods," a sound booth, photography studio, and event space for clients.
 
Dowling estimates staff will be in their new spaces by March 1. The reinvented interior, Dowling says, provides the company the flexibility to grow from 25 up to 50 employees.
 
"That's aggressive," she acknowledges. "But I want this to be our forever office."
 
Originally founded in 2002 as Motion Marketing and Media, the M3Group offers clients a full array of services that include public relations, communications, brand creation and assessments, graphic design, website development, social media management, video production, audio production, event planning and management, and media planning and buying. The company is also the publisher of three area magazines: Capital Area Women’s Lifestyle Magazine, Greater Lansing Business Monthly and ing Magazine.
 
Source: Tiffany Dowling, Founder and CEO, M3 Group
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.
 

Developers slate two REO Town buildings for redevelopment

Reuben Levinsohn grew up in South Lansing but only remembers coming to REO Town on occasional nights to dine with family at the former Ramon's restaurant on South Washington Avenue.
 
Today, the co-principal of a new development company has plans to renovate two functionally obsolete properties on the opposite side of the street of the former Mexican restaurant, and add to the vibrancy and density of a part of town he has grown to love.
 
"We started buying properties in REO Town about a year ago," says Levinsohn of his development ventures with business partner Nick Pope of L&P Properties. "There's lots of excitement and opportunities where REO Town is headed. We love the energy that's already there with the local community and business owners."
 
Levisohn and Pope purchased two adjacent buildings at 1149 and 1141 S. Washington Ave. and plan to turn around the dilapidated structures to accommodate the Blue Owl Coffee Co. and Michigan Creative in one, and an additional restaurant concept and loft apartments in the other. The $700,000 redevelopment project is slated to start sometime in October after the Lansing City Council approves an Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act (OPRA) tax exemption.
 
The OPRA tax incentive can help offset the costs involved in redeveloping old buildings. The project is expected to generate $155,000 in new property taxes over the next 10 years while L&P Properties will save an estimated $97,000 in property taxes during the same time.
 
"We want to see the area continue to become a neat entertainment and art district; it's already headed there," says Levinsohn. "The people of REO Town have already built a really neat community. Like the Mayor has said, it's an extension of downtown, but it's it own town, too."
 
Levinsohn and Pope also own the building on the same block that houses Saddleback BBQ. He and Pope plan to retain some of the original architectural features of the recently purchased buildings, including two advertising murals from Chapin Nivison Pharmacy and Woolworth and Sons that were hidden by drywall and plaster when the two buildings were co-joined decades ago.
 
In addition to their development company and projects, Levisohn and Pope also founded Washington Street Advisers, an independent financial advising group located downtown in the old Greyhound Bus depot.
 
Source: Reuben Levinsohn, co-principal, L&P Properties
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.
 

Simply Smitten Boutique brings new life to old things, builds downtown community

Two owned a building and coordinated art classes. One painted furniture. And the fourth had a vision for putting it all together.
 
In May, Dusty DeHaven, Tim Makinen, Lori Conarton and Michelle Tellier decided on a concept and opened Simply Smitten Boutique in a historic building at 257 S. Bridge St. in Dimondale. The business, says one of the owners, grew from a shared love of shopping, decorating and repurposing found objects through creativity.
 
"I call it a unique boutique," says Conarton, a Simply Smitten co-owner. "It's about resale—there's clothing, purses, jewelry, furniture, home décor. Some things have been upcycled. We really believe in bringing new life to old things."
 
Situated on the corner of Jefferson and Bridge Streets, Simply Smitten captures the attention of passers-by through a rotation of merchandise in an old-fashion window display. Once inside, customers absorb the ambience of the 100-year-old building that features a plank floor, bead board walls, and six repurposed chandeliers.
 
"Customers tell us that you don't feel like you're in a resale shop," says Conarton. "We make the atmosphere really enjoyable and display things in unsual ways. We also bring in new things almost daily. So if you see something you like, you'll want to buy it since it's one-of-a-kind."
 
Conarton says the shop fuels the shopping passions of each store owner. The four independently shop garage sales, on-line auctions, garage and estate sales, and receive items from friends who want to ensure a new life for beloved items. The team then draws on the artistic and creative impulses of each other to bring a fresh look to every item before it goes on the sales floor.
 
"I have a purpose now for my shopping habits," says Conarton. "You can only have so much stuff in your house, so now my goal when I shop is to find things that people will love."
 
Simply Smitten recently hosted the first of what Conarton says will be a string of special events. The first annual Glamperdale in mid-September featured seven "glampers"—or "glammed up" vintage travel trailers that resemble canned hams.
 
"We want to bring people to Dimondale to visit our business, as well as others," says Conarton, a Dimondale resident. "This is all part of a dream of mine to be part of the business community and to bring new and interesting things here."
 
Source: Lori Conarton, Co-Owner, Simply Smitten Boutique
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.
 

Ozone's Brewhouse captures spirit of Old Town in little more than a month

Although their business has been open for just about six weeks, their relationship has been brewing for a lifetime.
 
The father-son duo behind one of Lansing's newest brew pubs and taprooms admit that their interest in brewing beer is a habit run amok. Dan Malone started brewing 24 years ago, Kyle Malone about 6. But it's a passion they've poured into the well-received Ozone's Brewhouse—a place that brings brewing back to Old Town after Lansing Brewing Co. closed in 1914.
 
In mid-August, Dan and Kyle Malone opened the doors at 305 Beaver Street to an instant following. Many customers within walking distance became regulars, with some becoming mug club members—a privilege that comes with a customized mug stored on site and discounts on single beers and growlers. Others come in from around town to enjoy five mainstay brews and up to an eventual seven selections on a rotating tap.
 
"Beyond just a fantastic location, we talked to some of the people in Old Town and had conversations about how Old Town supports neighborhood businesses," says Dan, the dad-side of the business. "We found that to be true, and used a local designer and construction crew. It's just a very collegial environment."
 
The 3,600-square foot brewhouse seats 55 inside, with space for 35 more customers outside on the open-air patio. The Malones invested more than $400,000 to get the business started, with $200,000 applied toward transforming what Dan calls a "butt ugly warehouse and shack."
 
"At one point, this place had zero plumbing, no studs, no insulation, and just one little light source," says Kyle, the son half of the Malone equation. "We made it into a space where people could come in and have a beer, and added the drainage, plumbing and equipment for a brewing area, too."
 
The Malones worked hard to create a cozy feel, complete with reclaimed barn wood, Edison lighting, and the back bar from the Mustang Bar—a neighborhood haunt that shuttered in 1986. Long-time Old Town entrepreneur and supporter Terry Terry had preserved the bar after converting the Mustang into the UrbanBeat Events Center, and donated it to the Malones.
 
"It's a fantastic piece and has such character," says Kyle. "One of Terry's comments was 'it's a piece of Old Town that stayed in Old Town.' We were very, very pleased to have it."
 
Ozone's Brewhouse employs six staff, with Kyle running the day-to-day operations and serving as brew master. While the taproom doesn't serve food, customers can grab a bite to bring inside from Good Trucking' Diner, which parks its food truck on the premises.
 
Source: Dan and Kyle Malone, Owner, Ozone's Brew House
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 

Growing realtor finds new home in REO Town

Exit Realty Home Partners just made its entrance in REO Town.
 
In mid-August, the independent realty franchise made its new home in the refurbished Krentel Building at 1000 S. Washington Ave. It was a move, says co-owner Jonathan Lum, that signified the broker's commitment to Lansing's renaissance and helping to building community through buying and selling homes.
 
"It's great to be in the center of the whole region," says Lum, co-owner of Exit Realty Home Partners. "One of the defining things of being in REO Town is being part of this city's revitalization. It's one of the cool things we've wanted to tap into."
 
Lum formed Exit Realty Home Partners about two years ago with Heather Driscoll, another independent agent focused on residential real estate. He says the two want to propel their franchise into growth mode as they guide homebuyers and sellers through the real estate process.
 
"We very much realize that with real estate, it's a lot more than buying and selling homes," says Lum. "Lots of times people who are moving have other stressors in their lives—like a death in the family, divorce, growing families or jobs. It takes a lot of coordinated efforts and we have a deep sense of empathy and understanding."
 
Lum says both he and Driscoll were born and raised in Greater Lansing and leverage their knowledge of the area. Part of their philosophy, he says, is to go above and beyond the customer's expectations, and to help connect clients with resources and service providers outside the realm of real estate if asked.
 
Exit Realty Home Partners closed 89 transactions in 2015, and are on track to exceed that number in 2016. Seven staff—including two owner/agents, two agents and three administers—currently work out of the REO Town office. Lum says he anticipates adding up six agents in the next 12 months.
 
The franchise's new 1,248-square foot space shares common areas with other occupants of the 1918 Krentel Building including the Lansing Economic Area Partnership, Change Media and AKT Peerless.
 
Source: Jonathan Lum, Owner, Exit Realty Home Partners
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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