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Vintage Junkies anchors REO Town with passion for repurposing

It all started with an online vintage store, an energetic friend, and a family connection in a reawakening business district.
 
In late October, Amy McMeeken opened her dream business in REO Town, inspired by friend and co-owner Aimee Macklin. Dubbed Vintage Junkies, the 900-square foot retail space brings vintage clothing, home décor, hand-painted furniture and jewelry to the previous Kwast American Bakeries at 1829 S. Washington.
 
"Vintage Junkies is something I've wanted to do for many years," says McMeeken. "When I met Aimee, we realized we loved to do the same kinds of things. Being the little go-getter she is, she managed to get us a store very fast."
 
The two business partners set out to recreate McMeeken's Etsy site from the ground up within the 1,500-square-foot Kwast facility. McMeeken says the space held a special connection for both her and Macklin. Both grew up in Lansing. Both live in REO Town. And Macklin herself had spent time in the Kwast bakery as a child, watching her aunt decorate cakes.
 
"I felt a brick-and-mortar store was more what I was looking for rather than simply an on-line presence," says McMeeken. "It gives you more opportunity to have larger items, and it's a place where we can both be creative."
 
McMeeken and Macklin share a passion for giving new life to old things. As part of prepping the old bakery for retail and work space, the two built merchandising displays from discarded items, including a dress form from a floor lamp and chicken wire, a wall display for scarves made from a box spring, and antique license plates connected together to form a lampshade.
 
"We plan to do a lot of our artwork on site," says McMeeken. "We also want to eventually add classroom space for art and photography, and even a coffee shop."
 
For the time being, McMeeken will continue repurposing items and curating merchandise from estate sales, auctions and donations. She also plans to connect with more local artists and provide opportunities for exhibits, displays and sale of artisan items.
 
"I love this side of town," says McMeeken. "I'm a GM baby, and my dad used to work down here. We love the history. We love that it's still really raw and new. It's fun to be a part of it."
 
Source: Amy McMeeken, Co-owner, Vintage Junkies
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Veteran retailer opens new gift shop in Okemos

Tami Jackard retired from retail after 20 years, moved out-of-state, then moved back home after a year-and-a-half with a fresh perspective. Looking around, she saw potential for her own store—someplace, she felt, where people could dwell on the possibilities and feel good regardless of the day.
 
In early fall, Jackard opened the doors to Dwell—a small gift and accessory shop in Okemos. Located at 5100 Marsh Road in Central Park Place, Dwell carries fashionable, one-of-a-kind items for the home, many handmade by local artists.
 
"It's the stuff I love," says Jackard. "I love being able to change my home around and have beautiful things surrounding me. I thought others would, too."
 
Jackard teamed up with former co-worker Jo Ann Schaefer to fill the store with an eclectic inventory. Schaefer herself provides some of the hand-painted furniture, and connects with other artists for handmade items like jewelry. Customers will also find silk flowers, decorative knick-knacks, pictures and paintings, handmade greeting cards and collectibles.
 
"I just wanted to create a place where someone can come in and get a gift for about $20," says Jackard. "I also wanted to have a store where people could come in and feel good, and to turn their day around if they're feeling down."
 
Jackard says she loves merchandizing and curating just the right mix of items. The 1,200- square-foot space was nearly perfect before she moved in, requiring just a fresh coat of paint and some moderate repurposing of dressing rooms and cubbies for merchandise display. She hired two staff to help with customer service, and may add more as her business grows.
 
"Honestly, the hardest part of all of this was finding a name for the store," she laughs. "And then, once I settled on the name Dwell, I would see a saying or something with the word every day. It haunted me for a while."
 
Source: Tami Jackard, Owner, Dwell
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Z-Solutions expands to historic storefront in Webberville

Although Josh Rockey could have taken his growing IT business just about anywhere, he chose to stay in his hometown.
 
A fixture on Webberville's main street since 2007, Z-Solutions relocated in September to a 1,800-square-foot space just next store at 110 W. Grand River. The move gives his team of five four-times the space, and provides room for the two additional staff he looks to hire next year. What's more, Rockey's move adds vibrancy to the community's downtown district by bringing new life to a shuttered storefront.
 
"The lights are on at night, everyone can see the front of the building now," says the Webberville native. "We had a lot of community members say they're glad to see us in here, helping to brighten up the downtown."
 
Rockey had heard various histories of the store front, the most recent being that the space had been the town grocer 50 years ago. But like many residents, Rockey only knew the shop as a vacant building filled with random stuff. Yellowed newspapers covered the windows, and the interior was falling into disrepair.
 
Rockey cleaned out, painted and redid major systems to bring the 130-year-old building up to date. He retained the original maple floors, remarking that the scratches and scuffs showed workmanship that stood the test of time.
 
"Although we're a modern tech company, we wanted to retain the look of an older building," says Rockey. "Overall, the building was in all-right shape considering it hadn't been a business for nearly 50 years."
 
Z-Solutions provides IT support and technology services to small businesses and individual users. Starting from a home-based operation in 2001, the company has grown to more than 100 clients within a 50-mile radius as well as a few remote customers in northern Michigan. Rockey says his primary clientele ranges from "mom and pop" shops with two users all the way up to companies with 150 users on their networks. Z-Solutions also services individuals, and sells and refurbishes computers.
 
"We pride ourselves on keeping our costs low," says Rockey. "We might not be in Lansing, but we're only 18 minutes away."

Source: Josh Rockey, Owner, Z-Solutions
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor
 

Good Dog! Training transforms feisty fidos into well-mannered friends

Janet Smith isn't going to the dogs. She's going to the owners.
 
That's her philosophy about dog training and the underpinning of Good Dog! Training—her 16-year-old business that opened its very first brick-and-mortar facility at 1575 Haslett Road in Haslett this fall.
 
"I'm not really working with dogs, I'm working with owners," says Smith. "While training of the dog is involved, it's really about teaching the owners how to train their dogs."
 
Smith started Good Dog! Training in 1998 after a need to train her dog gradually developed into a passion for the profession. Smith left her job in retail to teach classes through Doggy Day Care and Spa, and was subsequently recruited as a trainer for the Capital Area Humane Society. In the last few years, she returned to life as an independent trainer and concentrated on helping dog owners create lasting, trusting bonds with their pets.
 
Good Dog! Training offers basic, intermediate and advanced dog training classes; Canine Good Citizen certification training; and dog-and-people friend classes like agility, fly ball, rally, nose games and more. Specialty classes are available for shy dogs, aggressive dogs, and "bully" breeds, and private lessons can be arranged for dogs with temperament issues. Smith also offers a new "stay and train" service that provides busy clients the option to drop off their pet in the morning for a day of training and pick them up toward close of business.
 
"I think what people need to understand is that every time you interact with a dog, you're training it," says Smith. "Either the dog is training you, or you're training the dog."
 
Smith holds classes and one-on-one training in a repurposed 3,800-square-foot plaza storefront on the corner of Marsh and Haslett Roads. Before opening for business, she installed a rubber floor, painted, created a small waiting area, and decked out the windows with creative graphics. She also sectioned off a small retail area that offers tools and resources like leashes, harnesses, fitness products, and books.
 
Good Dog! Training will be holding a grand opening event in the near future. Old, new and interested customers are invited to attend and see what Smith says is the only facility in Greater Lansing set up exclusively for companion and pet dog training.
 
Source: Janet Smith, Owner, Good Dog! Training
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Triple Goddess Bookstore acquires East Side vibe with shared space

While the original plan for Dawne Botke's business was inspired by a psychic fair, no one could have predicted the longevity of Lansing's oldest new age bookstore.
 
In 1993, Botke opened Triple Goddess Bookstore with her mother and best friend. The bookstore operated from a repurposed farmhouse on Hamilton Road for two decades, fostering a symbiotic relationship with area businesses and restaurants. After her mother and best friend passed away, and when a redevelopment plan prompted her move, Botke relocated to build another trilogy on Lansing's East Side.
 
"We were lucky to be there for 20 years, but we're lucky now, too," says Botke. "I can walk to work now since I live in the neighborhood."
 
In early 2014, Triple Goddess began sharing storefront space with Everybody Reads and Creating Heroes Stephen's Way at 2019 E. Michigan Ave. Her 800-square-foot space is also easily accessible through an interior doorway to The Avenue—a popular music and gathering spot.
 
Triple Goddess carries an array of books and tools for growth and transformation, including music, herbs, candles, incense, statuary, smudge, crystals and jewelry. Customers can also find new and used books, journals and tarot cards; attend classes on new age topics; and have tarot card or astrology readings.
 
"I'm also doing a lot more collectibles now," says Botke. "That's one way that I'm fighting the Kindle revolution. They can't download me or collectibles."
 
New items include unique tarot cards and decks, and handcrafted gifts by local artists. Some of the artists, Botke says, are people she knew from her Okemos days, including an artist from the Nokomis Learning Center who makes 3-D dream catchers.
 
"One of the things I love about being here is that we're all banding together so it's one-stop shopping," says Botke. "And this block has a little bit of everything. You can get a haircut, have lunch or coffee, and come to us for a tarot reading. It's very friendly and awesome."
 
Source: Dawne Botke, Owner, Triple Goddess Bookstore
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News
 

Vine & Brew expands storefront, adds to inventory of specialty food and drink

A specialty food and drink store in Okemos just got bigger thanks to the steady growth of clientele.
 
In early November, store owner and manager Curt Kosal doubled the footprint of Vine & Brew to 2,000 square feet. That extra footage, he says, will allow him to accommodate a wider selection of food, craft beer and wine, as well as to host occasional events.
 
"We saw the demand was there and wanted to offer our customers a bigger selection," says Kosal. "And now that we're in place, we'll be looking at new and collaborative events with area restaurants and other places."
 
Kosal opened Vine & Brew in early 2012 after amassing close to 20 years of experience working in the beverage industry. He and his wife, Leslie, took the leap and open the store, keeping the focus on small, boutique brands and Michigan products.
 
Vine & Brew only carries craft beers and boasts an extensive selection of Belgian brews. Customers can mix and match beers and create their own six-pack, as well as choose and create mixed cases from more than 1,000 wines. Specialty food items include Michigan chocolates, snack foods, and hand-made biscotti.
 
"Our focus is specialty items and smaller, boutique brands," says Kosal. "We work hard to go out and find those thing, often going directly to the distributor or manufacturer."
 
Kosal says he is always on the lookout for new products, and that the new space allows him room to grow and add inventory. Vine & Brew is located at 2311 Jolly Road, and has two staff in addition to the Kosals.
 
Source: Curt Kosal, Store Owner and Manager, Vine & Brew
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Lansing residents keep on truckin' with new REO Town diner

In keeping with their play-on-words, long-time friends Nick Sinicropi and Zach Corbin will "keep on truckin'" as they start serving up breakfast and lunch through a brick and mortar version of a popular food truck.
 
Good Truckin' Diner opened in early November, bringing artisan style diner fare to 1107 S. Washington Ave. in REO Town. The diner follows the success of Sinicropi's Good Truckin' Food truck that has wheeled out lunchtime fare since early summer.
 
And another word favored by Sinicropi?
 
"Potential," he says. "That's my one-word answer for why we came to REO Town."
 
Sinicropi says the sit-down diner wasn't in his plans for this year, but after being invited to tour the real estate, he was in.  He noticed right away the positive vibe on S. Washington, and decided that REO Town wasn't the same neighborhood he remembered from coming-of-age on Lansing's Southside.
 
"I was really surprised when I came down here," says Sinicropi. "We want to get in on the ground floor and help build this area back up rather than coming in afterward."
 
Sinicropi knew the timing was right and joined forces with Corbin to get the restaurant moving. Leveraging his inclination for carpentry, Corbin gave the 800-square foot space an old-fashioned, industrial feel by using galvanized steel, a repurposed picket fence, old hubcaps, license plates and an Oldsmobile grill. He also framed two vintage state and city maps to enhance the hometown, automotive flair.
 
"Zach is really the mind behind the inside," says Sinicropi. "We wanted to keep the truck theme and he had some great ideas."
 
With décor in place, the diner began serving made-from-scratch meals for breakfast and lunch. Some creations are original, others are twists on traditional favorites. Plates run an average of $7.99 with popular fare including eggs and omelets, craft burgers, sandwiches, burritos and soups.
 
"Nick came up with a great menu," says Corbin. "He likes to get crazy, so you'll find things like a blacken burger with jalapeno cream cheese and habanero relish. We also have a Bourbon Street French toast with caramelized bananas."
 
Good Truckin' Diner seats 28, created five new restaurant jobs, and is open for breakfast and lunch every day but Monday.
 
Source: Nick Sinicropi and Zach Corbin, Co-owners, Good Truckin' Diner
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor
 

Seasoned business owner opens Cork and Bottle in Charlotte, creates 11 jobs

As the owner of three party stores, Sam Shango instantly recognized the need for a specialty adult beverage shop in downtown Charlotte.
 
After a few months of searching, Shango found the right space at the right time. With a little ingenuity, a little marketing, and a lot of applied knowledge, Shango opened the doors to Cork and Bottle in early October and brought an outlet for craft beer, wine and liquor to the town 30 minutes southwest of Lansing.
 
"It's not your average party store," says Shango. "We have 5,200 square feet of micro brews, wines from local regions, and craft liquors. Anything made in Michigan, you'll find here."
 
For Shango, it's all about location, location, location as well as selection, selection, selection. The vacated grocery store a few blocks west of Charlotte's business district provided ample visibility, while the space itself was easily adaptable to products displayed in warehouse style.
 
"When it comes to stores like this it's not so much about the physical store, it's what inside," says Shango. "We're a specialty place, and we're all about the product."
 
Originally from Detroit, Shango settled in Greater Lansing after attending college in the area. He's both a wine sommelier and a beer cicerone, and trains his staff in the finer points of adult beverages.
 
"If you come in here and you're looking for a particular type of wine, we'll find you a bottle that will suit you taste," he says. "We'll do that with beer and liquor, too, and we'll win you in quality and price."
 
Shango loves the regional trends he's seeing in beer, wine and liquors, particularly when it gives him the opportunity to meet the people who make the product.
 
"We actually 'sell' the people along with the beverage," remarks Shango. "It's a good feeling to be able to tell customers about the people who make the beer, wine or liquor, and to help them succeed, too."
 
Cork and Bottle also carries basic pantry staples and convenience foods. The store created 11 jobs and became Shango's fourth operation behind similar stores like the Rainbow Party Store in DeWitt, St. Johns and Detroit. He's currently looking to expand his concept across mid-Michigan.

?Source: Sam Shango, Owner, Cork and Bottle
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Mason Computer Repair sets up family business near downtown

You could call it a "son and pop shop." Or a "son and pop and sister" shop.
 
Located in a 900-square-foot free-standing building just outside the city square, Mason Computer Repair offers personalized service on sophisticated electronics while keeping it all in the family.
 
Matt LaClear opened the repair shop in mid-October with his sister Danielle Peffers and his son Jordan Strayer. The three also run a marketing business out of the building, zeroing in on the advertising, marketing and social media needs of small businesses.
 
"Working from home just wasn't conducive anymore," says LaClear who moved his business operations into the previous Tiki Jim's Hawaiian Food Hut at 100 State Street. "I needed the 'lair' to get away from my kids."
 
LaClear says Strayer, his eldest of seven children, has always been into computer repair, and monitored what his dad could "throw away" when computers went awry or upgrades were pending.
 
"He was always piecing them back together," says LaClear who been a business owner for 25 years. "He's been at it a long time."
 
Mason Computer Repair had served more than 75 customers in its first few weeks of business. The business specializes in residential and commercial repair of computers, as well as small electronics like cell phones and video game consoles. Repairs are typically done on-site, with some house calls on request.
 
Many computer problems, LaClear says, relate to software viruses, or to simple, fixable things like a broken hinge or screen on a laptop. He says sometimes all it takes is a simple repair that run no more than $75 to get a computer back up to speed.
 
"I used to be like everyone else and wanted to upgrade," says LaClear. "But with seven kids and needing to be economically-minded, I realized that you can have a five-year-old computer and it can do most everything you need it to if you maintain it properly."
 
Source: Matt LaClear, Owner, Mason Computer Repair
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Medical entrepreneur sets sights on Greater Lansing

In a region that often laments the "brain drain" of local talent, one entrepreneur is bucking the trend by setting her sights on the local eye care industry.
 
In mid-July, Dr. Jamie Norton purchased an existing eye care business and positioned a newly rebranded practice to grow and provide vision care for the local community.

Located at 4660 S. Hagadorn Road in the East Lansing Eyde Building, Norton Eye Care occupies about 3,000 square feet, employs four staff, and serves about 3,000 patients.
 
"This is exactly where I need to be to take care of people and start my practice," says Norton. "I want to be accessible and available to patients with hours that are convenient for them."
 
Norton graduated from the Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris State University and has been a practicing optometrist in Greater Lansing for more than six years. During that time, the Alpena native became increasingly attached to her patients as well where she lived and worked.
 
"My husband and I considered moving to a different area to open up a practice, but I'm very comfortable and happy here," says Norton. "It's hard to think of not being here to take care of my patients."
 
Norton sees patients of all ages beginning with children as young as 6 months old. Her certified optical team has more than 60 years of combined experience, and provides assistance with eye care and eye wear needs.
 
Norton's office suite is on the first floor of a six-story building populated with medical and like-minded service professionals. That, she says, adds to the convenience factor, with many of her patients stopping in after other appointments with questions on eye wear or eye care. The practice boasts one of the largest eye wear dispensaries in the area with more than 500 selections, including brands such as Gucci, Ogi and Vera Wang.
 
"It's a very modern in here," says Norton. "We have lots of windows and open spaces for people to move around." 
 
Source: Dr. Jamie Norton, Owner, Norton Eye Care
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Penn Station East Coast Subs debuts in Delta Township

They tried one store. Then opened a second. Now the Lansing-area family will launch a third venture in Lansing, building on the name recognition and quality reputation of a quick-casual restaurant.
 
In November, a husband, wife and two brothers opened a new Penn Station East Coast Subs at 5417 W. Saginaw, Suite B. The store is among the eight that Mark, Cheryl, Jeff and Chris Kellogg aspire to own in Lansing and Southeast Michigan, and follows Frandor and Okemos locations opened within the last two years.
 
"While there are a lot of sub concepts out there, we hear day after day about the quality of the sandwiches," says Mark Kellogg. "That reinforces our thought that Penn Station is one of the better products out there."
 
Kellogg says he and his spouse, Cheryl, were looking for business opportunities and stumbled upon Penn Station after visiting a friend who owned a franchise in their hometown of Coldwater. They were so impressed with the quality of the hot and cold subs, the made-to-order fries, the hand-squeezed lemonade, and fresh-baked chocolate chunk cookies that they decided to bring the concept to Lansing.
 
"Penn Station knows what they're good at and don't try to deviate from that," says Kellogg. "They've been around for about 25 years and their track record is very strong."
 
Penn Station was originally founded in Cincinnati, Ohio, has more than 235 restaurants in 13 states. Michigan is a targeted expansion state, and the Kelloggs brought the first franchise to Lansing. The 1,800-square foot restaurant near the Lansing Mall seats 45 people and created 20 part- and full-time jobs, similar to the other two Greater Lansing locations.
 
"We were excited about being able to bring Penn Station here," says Kellogg. "Cheryl and I have been in Lansing since 1985 and we're appreciative of the Lansing community and how they contribute to our success."
 
Source: Mark Kellogg, Co-owner, Penn Station East Coast Subs
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

The Executive Influence helps small companies work through big challenges

Jeff Chaffin believes that even the best athlete needs coaching to continue to improve. And he applies that analogy to the world of business.
 
Working from a small office suite in downtown Lansing, Chaffin helps successful business leaders work through big challenges that may be standing in the way of peak performance. It's a calling he's been attracted to throughout his business career. So in early 2014, Chaffin opened the doors to The Executive Influence Coaching and Consulting at 120 N. Washington Square and applied his experience as a certified professional business coach.
 
"There are certain things that can happen as a company grows, including reaching a point where they encounter roadblocks or get stuck," says Chaffin. "We work with owners who tell us the life they are leading today isn't what they envisioned when they were getting off the ground."
 
Chaffin says small businesses face issues similar to those of large firms. Sales growth, marketing, recruitment and retention, and succession planning are just a few. And while large companies have access to more resources to address challenges, smaller companies don't have as many to draw on.
 
That, says Chaffin, is where executive coaches come in.
 
"We can help smaller businesses get to where they want to be," says Chaffin. "We follow their goals and their priorities. I don't come in telling them what they should do. We work with their vision. And we get results."
 
Chaffin enjoys consulting with small businesses, as well as with owners and employees. He welcomes the challenge of helping organizations find solutions, fix situations, and stay on the pathway to growth. He meets regularly with about 10 companies on a wide variety of issues. Those companies range in size from five to 600, with revenues from three-quarter of a million up to $50 million.
 
Chaffin works with two part-time assistants in the 600-square-foot office that includes access to three shared conference rooms. And his goals as a business owner?
 
"We want to make Lansing our center of operations," he says. "We can grow east, west and south, but I want this to be the hub. I love this area. It's ideal."
 
Source: Jeff Chaffin, Principal, The Executive Influence Coaching and Consulting
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Experienced technician opens A Perfect Ten Nails and Spa in Okemos, creates four jobs

While the décor is minimal, the newest nail salon and spa in Okemos has rapidly gained a reputation for services that exceed expectations.
 
Linh Phan opened A Perfect Ten Nails and Spa in mid-summer after months of remodeling the space at 2160 W. Grand River to exacting specifications. With cool white walls, golden accent lights, a line of comfortable chocolate chairs, and a panel of sheer aqua room dividers, A Perfect Ten provides a relaxing setting for top-of-the-line manicures and pedicures.
 
"Everything is personal and nothing is shared with another customer," says Linh Phan, manager/partner-owner. "Everything is personalized and nothing is shared with another customer. It's a very clean and relaxing place."
 
As a professional nail technician, Phan decided to start her own business as her daughter grew up and went on to attend medical school. Originally from Vietnam, Phan came to the United States in 1993, attended beauty college in Georgia, and moved to the Okemos-East Lansing area in 2002.
 
Phan says she loves being close to Michigan State University. That sense of comfort is reflected in the environment she's created for her customers—one that's relaxing, attentive and based on customer service.
 
A Perfect Ten carries up to 400 colors of OPI nail polish. Manicures take 30 to 45 minutes depending on whether customers go for the "no-chip" polish. Pedicures take up to 45 minutes, with customers having the option to add a hot rock massage.
 
"We do our personal best," says Phan. "I've been in the field a long time and love being here."
 
 Phan hired four technicians when she opened the 2,000-square foot space. She hopes to hire more as her customer base grows.
 
Source: Linh Phan, Manager/Partner-Owner, A Perfect Ten Nails and Spa
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Kick It Out Dance Studio relocates to bigger space, continues to add staff

Denise Krumm knew her dance business had kicked into high gear when her customers lined the hallways, waiting for the next class.
 
"I looked at my husband and said, 'we're packed in here like sardines,'" she says. "I knew we needed to expand."
 
In October, Krumm unveiled the new, expanded location for Kick It Out Dance Studio at 1760 E. Grand River Ave., in East Lansing. Just a mile or so from her original studio on Haslett Road, the new space more than doubles the studio's square footage from 1,000 to 2,200, and enables Krumm to continue offering dance and fitness programs to students of all ages and abilities.
 
Krumm launched Kick It Out Dance in July 2012. Starting her own studio was a natural progression in her life-long pursuit of dance and allowed her to coach, teach and educate others in the art of dance.
 
Kick It Out started with 14 students. In the second year Krumm counted  35. In 2014, 63 students came to Krumm's studio for courses in jazz, hip hop, tap, lyrical, contemporary and ballet, as well as fitness courses and workouts in Zumba, Zumba Toning, pound fit, and PiYo. Courses are tailored for students ages 2 through adult, and can follow both recreational and competitive pathways.
 
"Everybody has something to offer and to bring to the program," says Krumm. "That's part of our philosophy. I came from a very family-oriented studio and try to carry that through with my own business."
 
Krumm painted her new studio in her signature colors of dark purple and neon green. The bright, airy space includes two studio rooms with custom-built sprung dance sub floors, additional studios with Harlequin Cascade Marley floors, a spacious lobby, and rooms for students to do homework and store their personal items. Visitors and waiting parents can enjoy music, television and WiFi in the lobby.
 
"People just love the new studio," says Krumm. "It's a nice feeling to hear people say 'wow, this is nice.'"
 
The studio has added six employees since opening two years ago. The current staff of 13 includes six dance instructors, two assistant dance instructors and five fitness instructors.
 
Source: Denise Krumm, Owner and Director, Kick It Out Dance Studio
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

The Party Shoppe helps revelers party-on with boutique supplies and rentals

Although November harkens the start of winter festivities, one new retailer in Williamston believes that parties aren't bound by the season.
 
Melissa Cogswell opened The Party Shoppe in mid-October as a way to expand the 10-year-old home-based business she co-owns with Amy Cogswell. She says the brick-and-mortar store at 151 E. Grand River offers a unique selection of party supplies for themed and all occasions, including plates, cups, napkins, table ware, latex and foil balloons, balloon bouquets, gift bags, tissue paper, bulk and nostalgic candy, a variety of cold drinks and gourmet sodas, and fresh popped popcorn. Party planners can also rent bounce houses and machines that make popcorn, cotton candy and sno-cones, and hire face-painters and balloon twisters through the 600-square foot, boutique-style shop.
 
"We're here to help people have fun," says Cogswell. "At the end of the day, that's all that matters."
 
Cogswell says she and Amy got into the party business as an offshoot of their graphic design careers. The two soon built a loyal clientele as face painters and balloon twisters at parties and school events. When clients began clamoring for bounce houses and carnival-style food machines, Cogswell added rentals to the mix and found herself in full-time party mode.
 
The Party Shoppe, Cogswell says, services gatherings that range in size from 10 to the 100s. Equipment rentals come with free delivery and set-up, as well as on-the-spot instruction for how to make the best popcorn, cotton candy and sno-cones.
 
"We joke that we're in more birthday and party photographs than anyone else," says Cogswell. "It's a wonderful business to be in."
 
Source: Melissa Cogswell, Co-owner, The Party Shoppe
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor
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