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Artisan market coming to downtown Rochester this spring

Work is underway at the former Heller's Jewelry building in downtown Rochester. Pamela Walther and her husband Ryan are currently in the midst of extensive renovations to the building, which will soon become home to their Bizzy Buzz Artisan Market. The Walthers hope for a spring opening.

Bizzy Buzz has already accepted 22 artist vendors and is currently on the hunt for more. Items fashioned from glass, pottery, metal and more will make up their inventory of locally made fashion, jewelry, and home decor items. The Walthers are even carrying records from famous Detroiter Jack White's Third Man Records, complete with a listening station to preview records.

"For local artisans, what makes us different than other markets is that the vendors don't have to be here," Pamela says. "Just keep the shelves stocked. We'll take care of the rest."

The building itself is a piece of locally-made art in its own right. Built in the year 1900, the renovation process has peeled away decades worth of modifications to the building. The drop ceilings have been removed to expose the original tin-tiled ceilings. Even the walls have been removed to expose tin tiles covering the bricks. Pamela says those tiles will be relocated to cover the cinder block-walled addition in the back, leaving the original exposed bricks up front.

Another discovery was a bank vault built in the 1890s. While the previous owner of the building kept his lunch in the vault, the Walthers are planning on using it as the Third Man Records listening booth and display area.

"It's just the perfect spot. As much work as the building needed, we decided to give it a go," says Pamela. "We put the word out to the artisans and got a real good turnout."

"It won't take long to fill up."

Local artisans interested in having Bizzy Buzz carry their products can apply online via the company's website.

Bizzy Buzz is located at 409 S. Main St. in downtown Rochester.

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

Lincoln Park Farmers Market prepares for summer months with crowdfunding campaign, sponsor search

In anticipation of its season opener this June, the Lincoln Park Farmers Market has turned to online crowdfunding to help complete its budget. The market is also accepting sponsorships from area businesses.

The market is hoping to raise $1,000 by April 15. Its crowdfunding campaign can be found online on the GoFundMe platform.

According to Lincoln Park Farmers Market President Leslie Lynch-Wilson, the Lincoln Park market relies on sponsorships and donations from the community. The crowdfunding campaign is a first for the organization.

"I took some time looking at crowdfunding sites and saw other Michigan farmers markets using GoFundMe. I thought, Let's see what we can do here," Lynch-Wilson says. "It's really important because we don't get funding from the city or DDA."

Money raised from the crowdfunding campaign will be used toward operational costs, including the hiring of a market manager and to help pay the insurance of a newly purchased market van.

Though Lincoln Park Farmers Market needs to raise $8,000 in total, Lynch-Wilson set the campaign goal at $1,000 because GoFundMe recommends not setting the goal too high. Even a dollar helps, she says.

With any money raised, the market will be ale to build on its success from last year. One of its biggest achievements last year, says Lynch-Wilson, was the implementation of the POP Club, a national program designed to engage children in the importance of healthy eating and shopping habits. The POP Club will return this year.

For businesses and organizations interested in sponsorship opportunities, donation levels range from $5 to more than $500, with different benefits attached to each. Interested parties can reach Lynch-Wilson at 313-427-0443 or for more information.

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.

Local musician opens record store in Warren's historic district

After four or five years of hauling his vinyl album collection from record convention to convention, John Lehl was ready to settle down. Passing through the city of Warren's historic district, Lehl saw a For Rent sign hanging in the window of a storefront across from Kuhnhenn Brewing. The rest, as they say, is history.

Lehl opened Village Vinyl in April 2017. He characterizes it as a little record shop with a little bit of everything, including vinyl records, CDs, and cassettes, but also t-shirts, posters, coffee mugs, and more.

Lehl carries all kinds of music, though if he did have a specialty, it would be in the punk, hardcore, and metal genres. Which makes sense: Lehl is a member of some of the region's most legendary hardcore and punk bands, including Negative Approach, Easy Action, and the Meatmen.

"I always wanted to open my own shop, it was just a matter of figuring out how to do it and finding the time to do it," says Lehl. "I play in bands and we're on the road a lot. But vinyl is kind of hot right now, so I wanted to strike while the iron's hot."

He got his start selling vinyl albums on Ebay. It was at the urging of Meatmen frontman Tesco Vee that Lehl began lugging boxes of vinyl to sell at record conventions. The business, he says, snowballed from there.

Lehl believes that the city's historic district has a lot of potential for growth. A Warren resident himself, Lehl has long thought that the historic district could one day become a destination. And Village Vinyl could help nudge that growth along. While commercial corridors like Woodward and Gratiot avenues have their fair share of independent record stores, the centrally-located Village Vinyl helps fill a gap somewhere in between the two.

Village Vinyl is located at 5972 Chicago Rd. in Warren.

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

Michigan-sourced butcher shop expands operations in Ferndale

Farm Field Table is a butcher shop with a mission. And with a planned 2,500 sq. ft. Expansion on the table, the Ferndale-based purveyor of Michigan-sourced meats hopes to further its cause of supporting the state's small and independent farmers.

Farm Field Table is owned by twin brothers Matt and Mike Romine. They got their start in the meat business four years ago, when they opened the Mule Foot gastro pub in Imlay City. Soon, their father started farming mule foot hogs to supply their kitchen. Then, the idea of the brothers opening their own butcher shop started to take form. 
They opened Farm Field Table in Ferndale at the end of 2016.

The Ferndale location operates as a butcher and retail shop, serving walk-up customers but also some of the area's most notable chefs. Co-owner Matt Romine says that a significant portion of their customers are the restaurants that routinely make "Best restaurants of metro Detroit" lists, restaurants like Selden Standard and Chartreuse, both in Detroit.

Farm Field Table butchers and sells beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and rabbit, and sometimes goat, turkey, and goose. One hundred percent of its products are GMO-, antibiotic-, and hormone-free, and one hundred percent of its products come from Michigan farms.

"We select farms for quality. The beautiful coincidence is that in search of the best flavor, we find the animals that are treated the best," Matt says. "It's also good for sustainability, both in economic and ecological impact."

With its expansion, the Romine brothers hope to broaden and grow their base of customers. They've purchased $300,000 worth of equipment, and now they're waiting for their lease to finalize so they can open up the expansion, adjacent to their current location, and put that equipment to use.

"To capture smaller restaurants, you have to control costs better, and lower costs," Matt says. "This will allow us to do that."

"Our goal is to support as many farms as we can."

Farm Field Table is located at 1030 Woodward Heights Blvd. in Ferndale.

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

Art gallery and gift shop opens in Berkley, showcases Michigan makers and international artisans

There's a new shop in downtown Berkley, one that peddles stories much as it does wares.

Vitrine Gallery & Gifts opened Saturday, Dec. 9, and owner Susan Rogal is eager to share the stories behind the products she sells. Rogal carries a range of items, from artwork to beauty products, handmade jewelry, and food.

Each piece either comes from Michigan makers or international artisans and all on a Fair Trade standard. Attached to the items she sells are photos and profiles of the people who make them. There's a monitor above the register that plays videos of the makers themselves, as well as music videos of local bands.

In telling these artists' stories, Rogal wants to connect her customers to the makers, transporting them to different studios around the world, and all from her shop on Coolidge Highway.

"That personal touch is something we've lost. Everything is mass-produced these days," Rogal says. "I watch the videos playing, and it renews my energy. It reminds me why I'm doing what I do."

Vitrine also serves as the studio for Rogal's other business, ArtWear Detroit. The company takes local artworks and puts them on clothing, accessories, and housewares, which are available at the store. The shop has become the flagship store for Kari Hughes's Buy the Change line, too. Hughes travels the world and collects the stories and products from women, and also on a Fair Trade basis.

The storefront shares a building, and interior doorway with Holy Cannoli and Rogal plans many a collaboration with the bakery in the years to come.

Rogal is high on her Berkley location. She's worked hard to make the design of the store as appealing as the art itself. Berkley is on the cusp of something big, she says and deserves the attention.

"I work out of a lot of co-op galleries, and everybody's talking about Berkley," says Rogal. "Berkley is synonymous with having a lot of great places to shop. We're just one more."

Vitrine Gallery & Gifts is located at 2758 Coolidge Hwy. in downtown Berkley.

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

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.
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