Landing in Lansing: Dan and Ashley Lamb

Dan and Ashley Lamb, both in their 20’s, moved to the Capital region in 2007 from Jacksonville, Florida. Both recent college grads and newlyweds in a life transition, they adored the quaint culture of Jacksonville, but had no roots or reason to stay. So, the day after their first wedding anniversary they packed up and hit the road.

Finding the Right Fit

“We looked into the popular cities that everyone wants to move to and that all the magazines highlight month after month—San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Asheville,” says Ashley. “But since we were leaving a great city because we had no community, it would have been foolish to move to another great city where we had little or no community.” And that’s how they ended up in Lansing.

Dan actually grew up minutes away from where they live now, but his parents have since moved to nearby Grand Ledge. Some of his high school friends have also boomeranged back to Lansing after living in many of the aforementioned popular cities.

But it wasn’t just the community that lured Dan back. It was also the air of change and possibility in Lansing.

“I was always intrigued on my visits home by the changes Lansing was going through,” says Dan. “The giant factory buildings I used to ride my bike past were now piles of brick and vast vacant concrete fields. The potential of what might come next in the spaces [where] those factories once stood, and the idea of being a part of it makes me want to be in Lansing.”

The Lamb’s admit that winter nostalgia also helped in their decision making process. “We were getting a little tired of the heat and humidity, and — as crazy as it sounds now — thought some winter would be fun.”

On the Home Front

“We purchased a home in Lansing so we wouldn't have to live in Dan's parents’ basement forever!” Ashley jovially proclaims. “Our parents waited until they were a little further along in their marriages to invest in a home, and the one common piece of advice from them all was to buy as early as possible.”

So they invested in a home in Lansing’s vibrant Westside Neighborhood, known for its historic appeal and close proximity to Downtown.

“We believe [our neighborhood] is Lansing's best-kept secret. We wanted to live in this neighborhood because we are sentimental,” says Ashley, who was raised in Florida. “Having grown up in Pensacola and attending Flagler College in St. Augustine — two of the oldest cities in the United States — I have a deep appreciation for historical architecture . . . it does help that I have a handy husband who can fix all of our old, broken things, though!”

True to its historic nature, the Westside neighborhood is also highly community-focused. The Lambs live on a street where one would be perfectly comfortable popping next door to borrow eggs or sugar.

“Aside from the aesthetic beauty of these older homes, we love our neighbors. I really like that we're all up in each others' business —  it makes me feel safe and entertained,” Ashley adds.

Theme and Variation

Dan is an Electrical Design Engineer with Charlotte-based Spartan Chassis. “I spend a lot of time making drawings, reading customer specifications and supporting designs on vehicles as they make their way down the manufacturing line,” he says.

But there’s a creative side to Dan that is evident in the couple’s musical endeavors as Theme and Variation.
“For a long time, it was just the two of us, but now we are blessed with an incredible band,” says Ashley. “Joel Thiele is our drummer, Dan Price plays guitar, Rhodes piano and electric banjo; and Chris Olson plays bass. I'm very happy that my husband has a group of [good friends] he can play music with.”

Theme and Variation recently headed to Ann Arbor’s Big Sky Studios for their first full band recording. Dan describes their music as mainly rock and folk influenced with an occasional Motown groove.

Baby Boy and Budding Ventures

Musical activities included, the Lamb’s have had an exciting year with the birth of their first child, Jackson Elliot Lamb, and the opening of Lambs’ Gate Antiques in Old Town — a sister store of the Grand Ledge-based antique store owned by Carol Lamb, Dan’s mother. Ashley is the store manager at the Old Town location.

“Carol successfully operated a store in Grand Ledge for over nine years, but has always had a hankering to get into Old Town,” says Ashley. “When I went on maternity leave after Jackson was born, she asked what it would take for me to be able to operate a store in Old Town, and about a month later, we were moving in.”

The store carries a wide variety of vintage and antique items, representing many eras and styles from retro and funk, to Victorian and edgy.

“I'm really learning from a master,” says Ashley. “Carol has such an eye for store layout, which can be difficult in the antiques business.” But Ashley is certainly equipped to do the job, with an eye for what would appeal to Gen Y, and a degree in Business Administration and Fashion Merchandising.

“We want people to feel like there is order and thoughtfulness behind our displays, but also allow the treasure-hunters to have fun seeking out the perfect item.”

Loving the Local

The Lamb’s "perfect day in Lansing" reads like a greatest hits list for localvores: breakfast with maple syrup from Toby's Knoll farm in Mason, fair trade coffee at Mama Bear's in Old Town, local music from Brandon Foote's Gifts or Creatures project, and grilling "grass-fed, Scottish Highland beef" from LEA-White Farm in Charlotte.

Ashley also loves "walking through Cooley Gardens with the first signs of spring. I have never seen anyone tending it, so it feels like we're strolling through an enchanted garden."

And Dan chooses to frequent the kinds of local businesses "that motivate me to make something myself — like home brew beer ingredients and instructions from The Red Salamander, guitar gadgets from Elderly Instruments, and renovation ideas from Against the Grain."

Dan and Ashley are in a good place in life, and know they made the right decision picking Lansing more than three years ago.

“Our city will only be as thriving as the people who call it home,” says Dan. “Wherever you are, it is essential to surround yourself with people you can be inspired by and inspire back.”

Suban Nur Cooley is the managing editor of Capital Gains 

Dave Trumpie is the managing photographer for Capital Gains. He is a freelance photographer and owner of Trumpie Photography.


Dan, Ashley and Jackson Lamb in their Westside Lansing home.

Old Town businesses.

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

Signup for Email Alerts