Retailers find new home in Grand Haven’s refurbished Depot

Just Goods Gifts’ new home is a story for the shops and shoppers alike.

The shop recently settled into the last space in Grand Haven’s Grand Trunk railroad depot. The historic waterfront building, at 25-99 N Harbor Drive, is getting new life as a retail center.

For the past few years, Just Goods has been located at the Momentum Center for Social Engagement, 714 Columbus Ave.

The Depot is a good fit for the shop, says Barbara Lee VanHorssen, Experi-Mentor (executive director) at the Momentum Center.

“It will give everyone who enjoys downtown shopping a new opportunity to find the perfect fair trade gift or personal treasure, while giving us the opportunity to bring Just Goods to a whole new level of financial success,” she says.

Predicting success

Just Goods is a fair trade and social cause gift shop that sells handcrafted wares by artisans around the world, particularly in developing countries. All sales from Just Goods benefit the Momentum Center, a grassroots movement to create a stigma-free community. The organization serves this mission by hosting community conversations and operating programs that address mental illness, addictions, and disabilities. 

The Depot was offered up to the businesses forced to move out of Chinook Pier after that building became uninhabitable because of water damage. Four of them moved into the space. The city opened the remaining space to other businesses. Momentum Center, looking for a spot for Just Goods with higher foot traffic, applied.

 “They did an amazing job inside. They ended up tearing down a wall, and it just looks outstanding. I'm sure they're going to be just as successful as the other businesses that are there,” Grand Haven Main Street DDA Executive Director Jeremy Swiftney says of the shop. 

Ice cream and T-shirts

Also housed in the Depot are seasonal ice cream shops Sweet Temptations and Dairy Crème. Along with Just Good Gifts, year-around tenants are two gift and T-shirt retailers — Grand Haven Beach Co. and Peace Frogs 

While some former Chinook Pier retailers opted to close, those that relocated to the Depot or downtown are reporting increased sales, according to Swiftney.

Their success, he says, is an indicator the downtown is generating strong foot traffic despite the challenges that have come with the global pandemic over the past eight months. 

Next for Chinook Pier site

The city is moving ahead with figuring out what’s next for the former Chinook Pier site. In June, crews tore down the popular waterfront shopping center’s buildings after the city wasn’t able to remedy the mold problem cost effectively. 

The city has a $50,000 grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the Michigan Municipal League to begin a community engagement and development process for the site with the Beyond The Pier project.

"We really want to see what the community wants," said Swiftney, who encourages people to check out the Beyond The Pier website. 
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