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Urban marketplace with more than 60 local vendors opens in West Downtown Dearborn

Stacey Grant and Amanda Lawson want to celebrate all things local, so they opened the Made Metro Collective, and just in time for the holidays. The self-described local urban marketplace features products from more than 60 vendors, including coffee from Common Grace Coffee Co., albums from Stormy Records, and jewelry from Rebel Nell.

Even Dearborn's museums are well-represented at Made Metro, with The Henry Ford, Dearborn Historical Museum, and Arab American National Museum each maintaining a presence at the market.

Grant and Lawson are so focused on local commerce, in fact, that Grant emphasizes that their arrival in West Downtown Dearborn is meant to complement the city's retail community, and not draw customers away from spots that already exist. She wants people to know that places like Dearborn Novelty Art in the Monroe-Carlyle corridor and the shops in East Downtown Dearborn deserve their patronage, too.

What Grant does want, however, is to support and grow the local economy. Which she believes, in turn, will support local people.

"I don't make anything. I'm just making the space for other people who make things," says Grant. "This is more about community development through retail."

Grant and Lawson found a 3,400 sq. ft. space in downtown Dearborn, in a storefront next to Bar Louie. It all came together pretty quickly, maybe five weeks, says Grant. Originally contemplating a pop-up location in someone else's venue, Grant and Lawson decided that their own space on Michigan Avenue would be the best way to ensure success.

Made Metro Collective opened its doors at the beginning of December and will remain open until the end of January. It hasn't been decided yet if they'll stay open past then.

"The outcome of us staying open past January isn't up to us. It will be determined by the community response," says Grant. "If not, we can be happy this happened in the first place."

Made Metro Collective is located at 22275 Michigan Ave. in Dearborn.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Rochester Hills couple builds gourmet catnip company from scratch

Rochester Hills couple Rich and Lisa Jackson launched gourmet catnip company Skinny Pete's Gourmet Catnip this fall, though they've been developing their products and working the floors of trade shows for longer than that.

It was in 2014 when Rich, a professional director and visual effects artist -- wife Lisa is a producer -- was sitting at a coffee shop, working on an illustration of a cat. While listening to National Public Radio on his headphones, a story came across detailing a growing industry: Gifts for pets.

Around that same time, Rich noticed that wild catnip was growing in their garden. Imbued with an entrepreneurial spirit, the Jacksons saw an opportunity. And thus the seeds for Skinny Pete's Gourmet Catnip company were sown.

The Jacksons say there are two main focuses of their business. Their catnip is a high-quality, organic catnip. So much so, in fact, that they say that it makes for a good tea suitable for human consumption.

The other aspect that separates their product from the pack is the Skinny Pete packaging. The gourmet catnip is sold in packages of three varieties: Blue Meowy Wowy, Furmaceutical Grade, and Purruvian Pink. The catnip comes in artfully designed tins, keeping the product fresh and fresh-looking.

"We have three cats at the house, and they each respond to the catnip differently," says Rich Jackson. "Panda responds as if its a stimulant. The one we call Skinny Pete gets real lethargic. And Tucker gets real lovable and affectionate."

"Cats that ingest it act differently than the ones inhaling it."

Though they've only been officially on the market for a month or so, the Jacksons say that the response has been fantastic. The main bulk of their sales come directly from their website, though they also sell at local independent retailers. The Jacksons sell cat-related apparel and poster on their website, as well.

"One thing we've noticed with our clients is that they really love their cats," says Lisa Jackson. "There are real emotional connections there."

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Macaron maker to celebrate grand opening of bakery in Plymouth's historic Old Village

Moving from her home kitchen to farmer markets to pop-ups, Adina St. John's Blu Kitchen has now found a permanent location for her line of macarons. The bakery will celebrate its grand opening Saturday, Nov. 11 at its new storefront in Plymouth's historic Old Village neighborhood.

St. John moved from Milwaukee to Michigan in 2010. With her kids in school, St. John, who has a background in photography, found the time to start experimenting in the kitchen. Walking around area farmers markets and learning about her new home, St. John wondered aloud if it would be fun to work out of a farmers market. Blu Kitchen was borne out of this confluence of events.

Experimenting with different flavors and demand, St. John started selling her macarons at local spots like Eastern Market and Corktown Farmers Market in 2015. A year later, she realized that pop-ups better served her business, often teaming with mobile coffee shop Drifter Coffee. Now, in 2017, St. John has found a space of her own.

It was that complementary relationship with Drifter Coffee that led to the Blu Kitchen storefront. Visiting her Drifter friends at an event in Plymouth, St. John saw the vacant storefront next door. After months of construction, the 660 sq. ft. space features a full kitchen and pick-up counter.

As construction carried on throughout the year, St. John's neighbors, including the Old Village development board and other local businesses, would often stop in to say hello. Meeting her neighbors and becoming a fabric of the community has been important to St. John.

"It's about being an actual person and not just a business with a generic sign out front," says St. John. "I want to make sure to meet the neighbors and be conscious of what our presence brings to the neighborhood."

Blu Kitchen celebrates its grand opening Saturday, Nov. 11, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. They'll be selling their signature macarons, and Drifter Coffee will be parked outside.

Blu Kitchen is located at 965 N. Mill St. in Plymouth.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

April Wagner's epiphany studios opens downtown Detroit pop-up, plans Pontiac headquarters expansion

April Wagner's epiphany studios, the Pontiac-based hot glass studio and gallery is growing.

Since Sept. 15, Wagner has been selling pieces from her line of functional and decorative glasswork art at the historic Guardian Building in downtown Detroit. It's a perfect fit for a company that's in the business of art and craftsmanship; the Guardian Building is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of Art Deco skyscraper architecture in the world.

"Being in the Guardian has been inspirational. I feel like the role of the craftsperson hasn't changed over the years, even with technology," says Wagner. "Well-crafted things will always be important."

For now, the epiphany studios gallery at the Guardian is a pop-up, though Wagner says that if things go well enough, she'll consider keeping a permanent space there. She'll stay open at least through next year's North American International Auto Show in January.

She currently occupies a 300 sq. ft. gallery-type space in the building's promenade level. The downtown Detroit epiphany studios offer a good representation of Wagner's pieces, from the functional bowls and cups to the more decorative and artistic sculptures. Holiday pieces, too, are a theme, including glass pumpkins for the fall and planned Christmas ornaments for later in the season.

In addition to Wagner's newfound presence in downtown Detroit, the artist is also preparing to expand her Pontiac studio, nearly doubling its size. Wagner's 4,000 sq. ft. Pontiac headquarters serves mainly as a studio, with 3,000 sq. ft. dedicated to machinery, workspace, and shipping. She's planning on building a 3,000 sq. ft. addition on the building, and expects to complete it within the next three years.

One of the things that spurred on the expansion is a current project, a chandelier that is 9.5 ft. tall. Constricted by space, Wagner has to work on the chandelier in pieces. The new expansion will feature a two-story open space that will allow the artist to work on such large projects as one piece.

The epiphany studios gallery at the Guardian Building is open Thursday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and also by appointment.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Southfield seeks to introduce LTU students and families to the city with Experience Evergreen

Following a succession of three placemaking wins, the city of Southfield is looking to continue its summer successes with an event highlighting the businesses along Evergreen Road. Scheduled to coincide with the beginning of this year's Lawrence Technological University fall semester, Experience Evergreen will offer students, their families, and area residents an introduction -- or re-introduction -- to the city's commercial corridor.

From Aug. 21 through Aug. 25, more than two dozen participating businesses on Evergreen and within the city center will offer special promotions and discounts to woo customers.

"Experience Evergreen celebrates the new and pre-existing businesses along Evergreen," says Southfield Director of Planning Terry Croad. "For the new Lawrence Tech freshmen and their parents and grandparents seeing Southfield for the first time, we want to be there to introduce them."

The city has had a busy summer in the placemaking department.

Southfield successfully crowdfunded over $50,000 for a public sculpture park, resulting in a $50,000 matching grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Croad expects Red Pole Park to be completed by next spring, if not before.

That park will be located along the Northwestern Highway Bike Pathway, a landscaped pedestrian and bike pathway that runs along the highway service drive. Croad is planning for murals and other public art installations for the pathway, which celebrated its grand opening in late July.

Also debuting this summer was the city's bike share program. The program has already welcomed over 100 registrants in the span of two weeks. Bicyclists can pay by the hour or purchase an annual membership. A student discount is available.

Being a pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly city has been a big goal for Croad.

"It's important that people see others outside walking and biking; it builds a sense of community," he says.

"It's like outdoor patio seating. People want to see life and activity on the streets."

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Confectionary sets up shop in downtown Wyandotte

The confections and desserts shop Michele Bezue Confections is coming to downtown Wyandotte. While an official grand opening celebration is being planned to coincide with the popular Wyandotte Street Art Fair, which runs from July 12th to the 15th, a soft opening is expected the weekend of June 30th.

Bezue, who also owns Detroit Marshmallow Company, is excited to join the downtown Wyandotte community, a vibrant downtown that has a hard-working downtown development authority working behind it, she says.

Bezue Confections was originally located on Mack Avenue in Grosse Pointe Park, but Bezue believes that the busier downtown of Wyandotte will only help business. It will not only be a nice location for operations, but also a place from where she can branch out.

"When you make sweets, you really need walk-in traffic. We're not a restaurant," says Bezue. "Our new storefront in Wyandotte is an amazing location with tons of foot traffic and a really supportive downtown board."

Bezue has a lot of plans for the confectionary. While there will be tables, it will be less of a cafe than it will be a retail storefront. She'll sell both Bezue Confections and Detroit Marshmallow Company products.

There will be an event space, open for birthdays, showers, and other parties. Bezue also offers "dessert dinners," several course meals of nothing but desserts and confections.

A kitchen is being built, and Bezue intends on offering classes on how to make confections and desserts, including her marshmallows and truffles.

Another big part of Bezue's business is catering, which she'll continue to offer.

"I was outside working on the storefront and people are already asking me about catering."

Michele Bezue Confections is located at 110 Sycamore St. in Wyandotte.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Two St. Clair Shores businesses combine to take over old Harper Sports building in downtown SCS

There was only one available building in St. Clair Shores big enough to contain the dreams of business owners Holly Moyer, Lyndsay Napiorkowski, and Andrea Napiorkowski Moran. The trio is combining their businesses, Moyer's Gypsi Dreamz Boutique and Napiorkowski and Napiorkowski Moran's The Rustic Root, into one: The Rooted Gypsy Market Place.

That building, the old Harper Sports building in St. Clair Shores 9 Mile and Mack shopping area, is 34,000 sq. ft. and three floors of opportunity and they plan on making use of all of it.

It's a natural pairing for the businesses, as Moyer says they often refer customers to each other's Harper Avenue shops. Gypsi Dreamz sells upcycled and organic goods, including furniture, antiques, soaps, and more. The Rustic Root is a USA-only florist that buys locally when possible.

But the new market will be much more than a simple combining of businesses. One storefront will be the Rooted Gypsy Market Place and the second will be an additional market where local crafters rent booths and sell their creations on their own accord.

Rooted Gypsy is also awaiting approval on a small, rustic wedding venue, a "one-stop shop" that will feature a salon, flowers, decorations, and more.

"You won't have to drive all over town, picking up things," says Moyer. "We have all the talent already working in our shops."

The group also wants to build greenhouses to grow their own flowers, emphasizing self-sustainability.

This past spring, the team started an online petition to garner support for their bid on the building. While not required by the zoning board, Moyer says that the city had already turned down some proposals for the building and she wanted to do all that she could to secure it. The petition garnered nearly 4,000 signatures.

"I'm excited. I know that I have so much more to give than my little shop right now," says Moyer. "I'm ready for the changes and the challenges."

Rooted Gypsy Market Place is located at 23208 Greater Mack Ave. in St. Clair Shores. It is expected to open by the end of July.

The group is currently fundraising for building repairs. Click here for more information.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Downtown Dearborn record store successfully weathers changing music patterns for nearly two decades

Windy Weber has been working in record stores for 29 years. It's not a stretch to say that music is her life, and it's something she freely admits. Both she and her husband, Carl Hultgren, had an extreme love for music at an early age, spending many a summer day flipping through bins of records while their friends played outdoors.

It's that love for music--and a bull-headedness, she says--that drove Weber and Hultgren to open their own record store, Stormy Records, in July 1999. And it's that same love for music--and bull-headedness--that keeps them open to this day. Weber and Hultgren own and operate their business together, and also make music as the ambient duo Windy and Carl.

It's not an easy business to run in the 21st century, but that doesn't make it any less important. While digital music downloads have helped crush the record store industry, the record store remains at an irreplaceable crossroads of culture and community. 
 
Weber, who started working at Record Town in Southland Mall in 1988, still serves customers that she sold records to when she was 16 years old. She knows her customers so well, in fact, that she often offers personal guarantees on her recommendations.

"I know that you, based on what else you've bought from us, ]are going to like this record. If you don't, you can bring it back. Nobody's ever--well, actually, once, my friend Jamie brought something back--but in 18 years, all those people that I've given those recommendations to, they have come back and said, 'I loved blah-blah-blah, I want more.'"

Weber and Hultgren started Stormy Records in 1999, just on the precipice of the digital music revolution that has since shuttered so many record stores the world over. Weber says other record store owners told them they were crazy, that they shouldn't even bother. She says she even got flack for being a woman opening her own record store. While it hasn't been the easiest business to run, Stormy Records is still here, nearly two decades later.

Stormy has stayed open for a number of reasons, and a big reason is their flexibility. In 1999, 90 percent of the products carried were new releases. Today, that number has flipped, and 90 percent of Stormy's stock is made up of used records. The business is on its sixth location, always on the hunt for the right mix of responsible landlords, affordable rent, and adequate parking.

Since 1999, five of their six locations have been located in east downtown Dearborn. It's another factor for their remaining open. They can manage the rent, the retail scene is healthy with foot traffic, and their being near the border of Detroit means that they get a more diverse stock of used records.

The constants that remain are the music and the customers, and the fact that a record store is a sort of clubhouse. It's more than just shopping; it's a place where people gather, learn about music, and tell stories. Every conversation, says Weber, is a learning experience.

"One of our mottos is that we are caretakers of memories. Those records were really loved. They truly had a place in someone's life. And it is our job to help those records find a new place in someone else's life and that they're going to be just as cared for," says Weber. "It's not about money. We're used to the fact that we live carefully. It's about a true and incredible love for music and what we do: Helping people hear music that is going to change their lives. That is how we've managed to stay open all these years, because we're pretty obsessed with what we do."

Year Stormy Records opened: We opened in July of 1999. We are about to be 18

Name and title: Windy Weber, co-owner

What is one interesting job you held before owning Stormy Records: I have only ever sold records, so having my own shop is no different than what I have always done

What are one or two of your favorite in-store performances that you've hosted: Jack Rose playing in our shop was amazing

Stormy Records is located at 13306 Michigan Ave. in Dearborn. Find them on Facebook.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

My Pontiac Story: Amy McIntyre of City Girls Farm

Amy and John McIntyre are city people at heart. That's why they run their City Girls Farm, a goat livestock operation, out of the city of Pontiac, rather than out in the country.

When asked why they started in the city instead of the sticks, owner Amy McIntyre responds, half-jokingly, "Because we don't want to live out in the sticks."

Though the McIntyres' reasons run deeper than that. The family got its start in the goat business simply enough; the McIntyres' daughter began having problems with lactose and, in 2011, Amy read online that goat milk ice cream was a more suitable substitute for the traditional kind. The McIntyres bought a share in a herd of goats in Brighton and would drive an hour each way, once a week, to pick up a gallon of goat's milk to make ice cream for their daughter.

Soon, the family thought about running their own goat-based dairy farm, but eventually decided that it wasn't a sound business decision. However, a line of goat milk-based soap and lotion products, as it turns out, is a much better business to run.

The McIntyres bought their first goat in 2012--Winnie, who they still have today--and kept her on an urban farm in Detroit's Brightmoor neighborhood, where they initially thought they'd build their farm. But a series of meetings with city brass left the McIntyres exasperated. That frustration would lead to the fruition of City Girls Farm in Pontiac. The McIntyres partnered with Tim Travis, owner of Goldner Walsh Garden & Home, to purchase 3.5 acres adjacent to his nursery. City Girls Farm will celebrate their third anniversary in Pontiac this June.

Amy doesn't miss her former life as a bookkeeper and enjoys bringing neighborhood children into the farm to meet the goats.

"Agriculture is hard, but it's fun," Amy says. "On the hardest day, it's still better than on the best day as a bookkeeper."

The McIntyres now have 24 goats, and some of their does are pregnant again. In addition to their line of goat milk-based soaps, lotions, laundry detergents, and candles, the City Girls goats can be rented out for conservation grazing purposes.

Metromode asked Amy McIntyre about raising goats in the city of Pontiac, and the city itself.

Q: What do you love most about Pontiac?

I love the spirit of Pontiac. And the people. I think a lot of people don't have a choice to leave. A lady came one day to see the goats. A business left, and her job was gone, and she couldn't leave. But the people here are so open to the change that is happening that there's a shift--everyone's invested in it.

Q: Why did you come to Pontiac?

Honestly, it's the whole thing where you have to pivot, and with every meeting we went to in Detroit, it was like slamming your head against a brick wall. In Pontiac, it's been effortless. And then you get to know the people, and you start to think, I want Pontiac to get to experience the same thing that Detroit has right now. But it's going to be stronger because they're doing it without all the press. I think that's the cool thing. It's resilient.

Q: What's Pontiac's biggest challenge and how do you think it can be addressed?

The thing that worries me about Pontiac is the schools. I'm always concerned because I think when you have a city, you need to have the kids. It sounds trite, but they're the future. It needs to be a city where kids are welcomed and are valued. The ITA is a technical academy, and they don't have a science lab. And so, it has to be about the youth.

Q: What are your hopes for the city?

I hope it survives all of this. I hope it becomes a thriving urban center of really cool stuff. I really do. I just think it's awesome. It's a city smack dab in the middle of the wealthiest county in the state of Michigan. And it's not treated well. I want it to be treated well.

Q: What should people in metro Detroit know about Pontiac?

Don't be so scared of it. It's just another city that's fallen on hard times. People who come to the farm, they say, "I didn't even know it was here," and, "I never stop here." And it's like, are you kidding me? It's a city that's fallen on hard times, and it's not scary. I think there's such great potential here. It's amazing. People just need to see it. They need to come to Pontiac and see what's going on and tell people about it.

Learn more about City Girls Farm online.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

It's a party: Green Brain Comics goes all out for Free Comic Book Day

While the random person on the street might not associate a comic book store with a giant party, that's just what's happening Saturday, May 6, at Green Brain Comics in downtown Dearborn. It's Free Comic Book Day, an international event where comic book stores hand out free comic books all day long.

But that's not all that Green Brain has planned.

Green Brain co-owner Dan Merritt anticipates handing out around 10,000 comic books at this year's event. The store has averaged 1,500 visitors for the event each of the past several years.

Over 50 different comic books will be available, created specifically for the event and covering a wide swath of genres and intended age ranges. "There is something for everybody," says Merritt.

Patrons of Free Comic Book Day are allowed three free comic books, though Green Brain is offering the opportunity for people to receive more. Encouraging Cosplay, Green Brain will offer an additional free comic book to those who show up in costume. Up to two additional comics are available to those who bring canned food to be donated to Gleaners Community Food Bank, used books to be donated to Friends of the Dearborn Library, or old cell phones to be donated to Cell Phones for Soldiers.

For every sale Green Brain makes that day, the store will donate a portion of each purchase to Friends for Animals of Metro Detroit. That organization will also be on site with an adoptable dog. Merritt says the store is 3-for-3 in getting pets adopted in years past.

And all of this at a comic book store.

"We want to get the next generation of comic book readers interested, and get their noses out of their iPads. We want to create new readers at a younger age. Literacy is very important to us," says Merritt. "We also want to get people into a comic book shop to see what it really is versus what they might think it is. It's not what you see on Big Bang Theory."

In addition to free comics, Green Brain will have door prizes, grab bag giveaways, and free art prints. DJs and artists will be on hand, as well as a number of surprise guests and activities. A large event tent will be outside, along with The Roaming Hunger food truck.

Check out Green Brain Comics in 360:

Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360 - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

On the Wednesday before Free Comic Book Day, May 3, Green Brain will be hosting celebrated and Detroit-born comic book writer Saladin Ahmed for an in-store signing from 5 to 7 p.m.

Free Comic Book Day is Saturday, May 6, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Green Brain Comics, which is located 13936 Michigan Ave. in Dearborn. The event is free and open to the public.


Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Healthy food service opens storefront in downtown Ferndale, to open juice and smoothie bar by summer

Clean Plates Detroit, a meal management and delivery service, has expanded with a storefront in downtown Ferndale. Though Clean Plates has been operating in Michigan since 2015, the storefront is its first in the state. Clean Plates started in Ontario, Canada in 2012.

The Ferndale storefront operates as a pick-up location for the company's pre-portioned meals. An in-house nutritionist helps design the rotating menu, which features healthy and locally sourced ingredients and meals that can be delivered to customers' homes every week. While meals are pre-portioned, customized options for those with dietary restrictions are also available.

Store manager Omario Matti says that the Ferndale storefront has already revealed some dietary trends in the neighborhood, and that Clean Plates has adjusted accordingly.

"The customers here have been primarily vegetarian and vegan," he says. "So, we've been incorporating that into our menus more."

Matti says that at every Clean Plates location, both in Ontario and in Michigan, the food is purchased locally. Nothing is shipped, nothing is frozen, and nothing has GMOs or hormones.

The Ferndale storefront is just the beginning of the company's expansion into Michigan. Matti says that storefronts in downtown Birmingham and downtown Detroit should be open by the end of the year. A juice and smoothie bar is also being built at the Ferndale location, which is expected to be completed by the end of May.

"I think it appeals to busy people," says Matti. "It was originally more targeted to athletes, but it's also for people with really busy lifestyles. It's still nutrition-based, but now people who don't have the time to shop and cook can eat healthier."

Clean Plates Detroit is located at 149 W. 9 Mile Rd. in downtown Ferndale.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

My Pontiac Story: April Wagner of epiphany glass

Out on the outskirts of Pontiac, tucked away between trees, landscaping, and Beaudette Park is a former TV repair shop. It's a quiet part of town, bucolic even. Driving by, it's easy to miss the old shop. There are no signs on the side of the road, no way to know that inside the old TV repair shop is the home of epiphany studios, the gallery and hot glass studio of glass artist April Wagner.

Since 1997, the year she purchased the building, Wagner's business has remained in this unique part of town. From her point of view, it's a perfect fit. Wagner draws inspiration from nature, which translates to her glass work. She appreciates the quiet, and she doesn't like to draw too much attention to her studio.

Wagner runs two businesses out of epiphany studios--and even lived in the attached apartment once. There's epiphany, which is her line of gift pieces and functional pieces, like bowls and decanters. These items can be found at her gallery, and other galleries and stores. And then there's the April Wagner Line, which are larger, more ornamental pieces of glass art that often end up in the lobbies of hotels and hospitals, or the dining rooms and stairwells of people's homes.

Wagner appreciates being in Pontiac. She calls it the heart of Oakland County, and thinks its a great location for artists, citing a nice balance between cost and size in the space that's available. She's currently working on a piece for the donor wall of the recently renovated Flagstar Strand Theatre For The Performing Arts downtown.

"The community here, in particular, supports makers by buying their work," says Wagner. "I'm grateful to be allowed to be here and do my thing, and do it quietly and purposefully."

For a chance to see epiphany studios firsthand, Wagner's 2017 Spring Show is Saturday, May 6, and Sunday May 7, from noon to 6 p.m. both days. The event is free and open to the public. It features glassblowing demonstrations and even opportunities for visitors to try glassblowing, too.

We asked Wagner about Pontiac and the arts.

Q: What do you love most about Pontiac?

I love this piece of property. I love being on the water, and I love how quiet it is. It's gorgeous.

Q: Why did you move epiphany glass to Pontiac?

I moved to Pontiac because I could afford to buy real estate here and I felt that I could grow as an artist here. And because it was such a beautiful piece of property, it would give back to my artistic side just as much as I would give to it. 
 
The reason I stay in Pontiac is that I feel like Pontiac needs me. Pontiac needs stable businesses that have people working here. Pontiac needs people from other surrounding neighborhoods to come here and see how great it is. Even though I'm on the edge of Pontiac and not in downtown Pontiac, I still think I help Pontiac have a different reputation from what it has in the general media, like violence or poverty.

Q: What's Pontiac's biggest challenge and how do you think it can be addressed?

The biggest challenge has been coming out of a lack of leadership and now, moving forward with such strong leadership, I think they're doing an amazing job of working with the community and the government and the teams of developers to create this synergy to create a community where everyone will benefit. 
 
In the twenty years that I've been here, they tried to do a resurgence in downtown Pontiac before and it failed, in my opinion, because people weren't talking to each other. The government, the developers, and the community were not interacting. From what I've seen with what's happening today in downtown Pontiac, I'm so impressed.

Q: What are your hopes for the city?

I hope that everything that is going on right now continues. I would love to see it become an enclave for artists and galleries and boutique shops. The thing I would hate to see is if something like Buffalo Wild Wings moved in. I'd love to see little independent restaurants, and maybe a cat cafe would be super cool; boutique clothing stores. Just fun and quirky, kind of like Ann Arbor--different from any surrounding neighborhood and what those have to offer. So you're not competing, you're just enhancing the whole area.

Q: What should people in Metro Detroit know about Pontiac?

Pontiac is a gem that's about to get a really good cleaning and then everyone is going to recognize it for how great it is. Because there are lots of times you might not want to drive to Detroit to do something fun and funky. You might want to stay a little closer to home. Every neighborhood has its own unique flavor, and I think the flavor that Pontiac is going to offer is going to be something that isn't already nearby for a lot of people.

More information about the epiphany studios 2017 Spring Show is available here.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Lincoln Park Farmers Market joins national program to encourage kids to eat healthy

Fresh off the heels of their first Winter Market in several years, the Lincoln Park Farmers Market is getting ready for its next phase of growth. 
 
Starting with the 2017 season, Lincoln Park will be members of the POP Club, a national program designed to engage children in the importance of healthy eating and shopping habits.

Lincoln Park Farmers Market is one of only a handful of Michigan farmers markets to join the POP Club program. The Muskegon Farmers Market and Dearborn Farmers and Artisans Market are also members.

First started in Oregon, the POP Club, or Power of Produce Club, uses a number of techniques to teach children aged 5 to 12 years old about fresh and local produce. Once registered in the POP Club, a child receives $2 to spend as they wish on fruits, vegetables, and plants. Lincoln Park will also host produce-related activities and classes for the children.

"POP Clubs have always intrigued me. I just thought this would be a really good thing to have," says Leslie Lynch-Wilson, President of Friends of Lincoln Park Farmers Market. "It's great for the community, families, and farmers. And it's something for the kids to do and not just stand around bored while their parents shop."

Registration for the POP Club is available at the first regular Lincoln Park Farmers Market of the season on Sunday, June 4. Lynch-Wilson encourages children to register upon entry to the market.

Lincoln Park is also hosting a special holiday market this Mother's Day, Sunday, May 14.

Lincoln Park Farmers Market occurs every Sunday from June through October. It is located at the southwest corner at the intersection of Southfield Road and Fort Street in Lincoln Park.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Farmers market to offer winter produce cooking demonstrations and recipes

A series of cooking demonstrations featuring fresh and local produce will launch at the Oakland County Farmers Market this Saturday, Jan. 14, and continue every other Saturday through the end of March.

The demonstrations occur from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the market, each featuring a different guest chef. Danny Martinez of the Alley Cat Cafe in Pontiac will be the first to host, with chefs from Townhouse in Birmingham, High 5 Salts With Benefits, C.A.Y.A. Smokehouse Grill in Wolverine Lake, Cacao Tree Cafe in Royal Oak, and the Dorsey Schools Culinary Academy to follow. The demonstrations are free to attend.

Oakland County Farmers Market Manager Jeremy Brown says winter produce demonstrations have been a hit since first starting two years ago, providing visitors with valuable and useful information.

"I hope the cooking demonstration series inspires people to incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables in their meals during the winter, when finding fresh items can be challenging," he says. "I think some people may be surprised as to how many items are available at the market during the winter."

Items like root vegetables, mushrooms, honey, garlic, onions, and apples are all available fresh from local vendors during the winter months and will be utilized by the guest chefs. Following the cooking demonstration free samples of the prepared dishes will be available and Lake Orion's White Pine Coffee will be providing free coffee samples, as well.

Recipes of the prepared dishes will be available for those who wish to try them out at home and the ingredients will be available from Oakland County Farmers Market vendors. These vendors include VanHoutte Farms in Armada, Penzien Produce in Imlay City, Hockey Haven Farm in Lapeer, Give & Grow Mushroom in Chesterfield, Sweetz Sugaring in Imlay City, and Brookwood Fruit Farm in Almont.

The Oakland County Farmers Market is located at 2350 Pontiac Lake Rd. in Waterford. Winter hours are 7 a.m.-1:30 p.m. every Saturday.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

East Dearborn's City Hall Artspace Lofts bazaar offers local, one-of-a-kind gifts

With the passage of Thanksgiving, the traditional holiday shopping season has begun. For all of the shopping options out there, a relatively new tenant of East Downtown Dearborn is making a play for consumers' holiday shopping attention.

The first annual City Hall Artspace Lofts Holiday Bazaar opened Saturday, November 26 and will continue the next three Saturdays. Featuring work from the artist tenants of the City Hall Artspace Lofts live/work space, the CHAL Holiday Bazaar offers a wide range of local, handmade arts and crafts gift ideas.

"We want to encourage people to come to the bazaar and shop local," says Event Director Julia Kapilango. "These are one-of-a-kind, quality-made items."

Pieces include handmade jewelry, sculptures, textiles, glass dolls, and visual arts. Some of the artists have made holiday-specific items, including ornaments, textiles, and jewelry. The bazaars will feature live entertainment from dancers, Djs, and bands. There is also a metal pour and mold workshop.

The City Hall Artspace Lofts occupy the former Dearborn City Hall, which left for a more central location. The lofts, which are designed as live/work spaces for artists, opened earlier this year.

"This is about building community and inviting people into the Artspace Lofts so they can see what's happening both in there and in Dearborn," says Kapilango. "This is an attractive place for millenials and we want them to see it firsthand. We want to create opportunities for the artists to teach, train, and empower."

The City Hall Artspace Lofts Holiday Bazaar is occurring on the Saturdays of December 3rd, 10th, and 17th. It is open from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. and is free to attend.

The City Hall Artspace Lofts campus is located at 13615 Michigan Ave. in Dearborn. The bazaar is located in the annex side of City Hall, at the intersection of Maple and Nagy.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.
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