There is always a little summer in The Sunshine Shoppe in Downtown Bay City

The building at the corner of North Water and 4th streets in Downtown Bay City didn’t sit empty for long.

After a long Michigan winter, former owner Greg Schultz decided to retire, close his Waterfront Market restaurant, and put the building up for sale. Marie Barba quickly seized the opportunity.

The Sunshine Shoppe is located in what used to be a downtown deli and market.Barba made some minor renovations to the building and opened the Sunshine Shoppe at 925 N. Water St. in June.

She was drawn to the large windows overlooking three sides of the building and the long, open interior space. The building’s layout created the perfect place to display the brightly-colored furniture she had painted during the COVID-19 closures.

“I started painting furniture,” Barba says, adding she enjoys matching the bright colors and coming up with sunny, tropical schemes. “Last year with COVID, I had a couple of other pieces to mess with and try, and out of that spawned me thinking that it would be cool to have a storefront for the furniture.”

After opening, Barba quickly realized the space was larger than she needed and she saw another opportunity. This time, though, Barba reached out to help other people seize that opportunity.

“I wondered if others would want to have the opportunity to showcase their work,” she says, “We came up with a plan, and we sought out a few venders that I really like their story, and just what they did with their branding.”

Today, most of the shop carries consignment goods, however a few businesses opted to rent space of their own. Inside the building, you’ll find a bookstore, T-shirt shop, and a women’s clothing boutique called Divine Trio.

Barba says Divine Trio is owned by three moms from Midland. The women wanted to open their own business, but had trouble finding a storefront. The Sunshine Shoppe was perfect.

A group of crafters gathers on Thursday nights at the shop to work together and learn from each other.Barba also partnered with Do-All and its Do-Art program. “We support that initiative, and wanted to make sure they are present here,” she says, adding her goal is to include as much of the community as she can.

Barba has a love of all things tropical and Key West, but grew up on Sunshine Lane off Salzburg in Bay City, which is where her heart is.

“I think my biggest goal here is community. I love Bay City, love being part of Bay City. I grew up in Bay City, and I when I knew we were ready to get back to being together, community inclusion was a big deal.”

Marie Barba opened The Sunshine Shoppe in June with her bright-color, hand-painted furniture. She quickly opened up, though, to include work from other entrepreneurs.Barba says inclusion is what her back room is all about. The shop’s back room is an open area where people can take classes, attend workshops, and host make-and-take events. She has plans to offer workshops on sign painting and jewelry making.

She also wants to showcase the work of different artists.

Word is getting out about the back room. From 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays, a group comes in for what she calls Knit & Sip. Attendees don’t have to knit, and what people sip varies from bottled water to coffee.

“It’s been well attended so far. People just bring in their crafts and work, and we sit for an hour and a half and just laugh and talk and just have a good time.”  

During Knit & Sip, Barba people bring in a range of crafts and are always willing to share their skills. “We’re all learning,” she says and invites anyone with a craft to join the group.

“It’s the stuff that warms my heart,” says Barba. “At the end of the day, I just want to make people smile.”

The Sunshine Shoppe is currently open Wednesday through Sunday, but Barba says to watch the Facebook page here She plans to experiment a little with the hours over the fall to see what works best with people visiting Downtown Bay City.