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Kiwanis Thrift Store plans to purchase larger Scio Twp facility for warehouse

A new home could be in the future for one of two Kiwanis Thrift Sale locations. The Kiwanis Club of Ann Arbor is under contract to purchase a 121,651 square foot Scio Twp building that was once the location of Sheridan Books.

"We are in an agreement that says at any point, within 90 days, we could lose our location by Costco," says John Dahl, president of the Kiwanis Club. "That's why we've been looking at this for the last year. We've looked at possible sites in the Ann Arbor area."

Operations at the Kiwanis Thrift Sale downtown will continue as normal, but the new location will give the organization's warehouse facility, which has primarily focused on furniture sales, to make better use of its space. 

While part of the building is occupied by renters, Dahl says about 45,000 square feet of space is available for Kiwanis's use and to lease to additional renters. He expects the store will use about 20,000 square feet of that space, up from the 15,000 square feet utilized at their current warehouse. 

"From our customers' standpoint, what this will do is allow us to spread things out better than what we're currently doing right now," says Dahl. "Especially in our downtown location, we'ed like to make better use of our space, and this allows us to do a better job in terms of displaying our merchandise. 

Should the transaction move forward according to plan, Dahl hopes to close on the new facility in late October or early November and begin the transition from their current warehouse. He anticipates the organization would use sales to clear out excess inventory rather than transport it all from one place to the other. 

Source: John Dahl, Kiwanis Club
Writer: Natalie Burg

10,000 sq ft Ypsilanti Twp Center renovated for success

A long vacant Ypsilanti Twp. property will soon be getting a makeover, and, should all go according to plans, new tenants. 

"We are going to name it the Ypsilanti Township Center," says Steve Campeau, a partner in the property's redevelopment with Beal Properties. "We want to make it the premier location for office suites in town. We're committed to fixing it up, making it look nice and continuing to add value to the community."

The 9,960-square foot building is divided into 14 suites that Campeau says can be combined or renovated to suit the tenants' needs. The partners are asking $9 per square foot for the commercial space. Formerly a medical building, Campeau says the facility is ideally suited for similar uses, but are available for other uses as well. 

"The township really wants to get this building occupied," Campeau says. "They are working with us to get any kind of business in there." 

Campeau believes the property has been vacant for about seven years. Exterior work is underway on the building now, but the partners plan to wait until tenants have been secured to renovate the interior, so each suite can be built to suit the business's needs. 

Source: Steve Campeau, Beal Properties
Writer: Natalie Burg

Excel Dental brings patient focus, four jobs to Traver Village Shopping Center

In most dental offices, patients are used to the same routine during their first visit. They fill out a long form with lots of questions. At the new Excel Dental on Plymouth Rd. in Ann Arbor, however, they do things a little differently. 

"We go out of our way and take the patients in the back and do a patient interview. It gives us a chance to get to know our patients," says Excel Dental Patient Coordinator Laura Reeves. "Dr. Sandra strives toward patient care and patient courtesy." 

A family atmosphere is the aim of Dr. Sandra Shrimankar's Excel Dental. According to Reeves, Shrimankar decided to open her own office after working in different clinics in the area and wanting to be closer to her home and two children. She accomplished that by finding a space in Traver Village Shopping Center, near Kroger.

"We are in the the best spot," says Reeves. "We have all the Kroger traffic, but we also have all of the senior complexes behind us. We've seen kids as young as three so far up to the 90s."

Excel Dental opened in April after a total renovation that began in February. The clinic currently employs a staff of four, and Reeves says she expects the staff will grow along with the clinic. They business is currently looking to hire one associate dentist. 

Source: Laura Reeves, Excel Dental 
Writer: Natalie Burg

Wolverine State Brewing Co expands operations in Ann Arbor

Wolverine State Brewing Co grew its kitchen last year and is planning on expanding the rest of its business this year.

The Ann Arbor-based brewery specializes in producing, which means it requires more time and resources to produce its brews. The 8-year-old craft brewery opened up its own tap room on West Stadium Boulevard in the old Big George's space in 2010. Last December it added a kitchen, which meant it needed to hire another six people to serve as kitchen staff. It now employs 18 people.

"It's like two totally different businesses," says Josh Evans, house manager for Wolverine State Brewing Co. "In terms of the way it runs, the way it looks, it's just so much more polished."

He adds that the expansion prompted Wolverine State Brewing Co to become more professional in its appearance and operations. That is setting the table for an even bigger expansion for the brewery later this year. The firm currently produces 2,200 barrels of beer a year, a number Evans expects to go up significantly next year.

"We plan on ratcheting that up substantially in 2015," Evans says. "We're expanding everything but the retail space. Basically everything you don’t see."

Source: Josh Evans, house manager for Wolverine State Brewing Co
Writer: Jon Zemke

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Growing Hatch Stamping opens new Chelsea sales office

With two industrial facilities in Chelsea, plants in Fowlerville, Howell and Mexico, and new plant coming to Tennessee next year, Hatch Stamping Company is definitely growing. So much so, that the Chelsea-based company has opened a new local sales office to accommodate their growth.

"We are bringing in new customers, and we are growing the customer that we do have," says Steve Emmert, director of sales for Hatch Stamping. "Also, the economy in the auto world is doing better."

After running out of room in the Chelsea location that once held their sales staff, Hatch located a pair of office suites on Middle St. to dedicate to sales. Sixteen sales staff will work out of the 4,500 square foot office, of the 245 workers the business employes in Chelsea. Company-wide, Hatch Stamping employs 680 employees. 

Though the company's growth extends beyond state and even national borders, Emmert says Chelsea remains the best home base for Hatch Stamping. 

"The company has been here since 1952, and we have no plans of moving our our operations out of the Chelsea area," Emmert says. "It's a good place to pull workers from."

Hatch Stamping moved into their new sales office in mid June and celebrated a grand opening on July 10. 

Source: Steve Emmert, Hatch Stamping Company
Writer: Natalie Burg 

Great Lakes Cycling moves to new, permanent location on Stadium

What was once a building that serviced cars is now the new home of Great Lakes Cycling and Fitness - a transition owner Oscar Bustos finds appropriate, given how many Ann Arborites are choosing cycling over driving. For him, the new Stadium Blvd. location was an opportunity to find a permanent home for his business, something he'd been pursuing for some time.

"We'd been trying to buy our previous building, but the owner was unable to sell it," Bustos says. "We wanted to purchase a building, and this was a good fit. Our basic model is a shell, a big open environment, so it worked out well. We just gutted it."

After months of renovations, Great Lakes Cycling and Fitness opened in the 8,000 square foot building in early June. With the change in location, Bustos has also taken on some new brands. For the most part, however, he says the service and staff people have come to expect from his former location are the same in the business's new home. 

So far, the reaction has been positive.

"Things have been going great," says Bustos. "Our traffic count is a lot higher on this side of town, so our visibility is improved. We're very happy with it."

Great Lakes Cycling and Fitness is open seven days a week, from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm on weekdays, 10:00am to 6:00pm on Saturdays and noon to 6:00 pm on Sundays. 

Source: Oscar Bustos, Great Lakes Cycling
Writer: Natalie Burg

Motawi Tileworks to expand into downtown retail at Ann Arbor Art Center

Retail is nothing new for Motawi Tileworks. The art tile company has been selling their tiles online at at their Enterprise Dr. location in Ann Arbor for some time, in addition to their wholesale work. But owner Nawal Motawi decided it was time to investigate retail in a more visible location. 

"Every once in a while it dawns on me how hard to find our place on Enterprise really is," Motawi says. "But looking at the parts of our business that are most successful, our retail has been quite successful." 

Opening a dedicated retail location in downtown Ann Arbor can be expensive, however, so Motawi is partnering with the Ann Arbor Art Center to ease into the downtown retail game. Beginning in late August, about 500 square feet of the Center will be dedicated to Motawi Tileworks, which will be merchandized by the tile company. 

Though the tile will be sold on consignment like any other art sold at the center, Motawi will share the cost of staffing with the Ann Arbor Art Center and the dedicated space and control over their inventory will help Motawi experiment with downtown retail location. 

"They're feeling really great about it because it's a different way of helping a local artist, so it's still true to their mission," Motawi says. "And really, I want to learn by doing. It would be a great thing to see it grow into own space, and to see if the concept is strong, and if it can be started in other locales."

Motawi Tileworks enthusiasts will find extra incentive to visit the downtown location, as Motawi says she'll market test new tiles there, as well as host periodic events during which visitors can watch tiles being created. 

Motawi hopes to begin operations in the Ann Arbor Art Center space on Aug. 20 and celebrate a grand opening Sept. 5. 

Source: Nawal Motawi, Motawi Tileworks
Writer: Natalie Burg

Ann Arbor Running Company to open in Oak Valley Shopping Center

Ian Forsyth and Nick Stanko met as cross country runners at the University of Michigan, and they've been friends ever since. They've also both stayed connected to running through their careers, and those ties will become even deeper as the now business partners prepare to open their first venture: Ann Arbor Running Company

"We think we have a lot to offer," says Forsyth. "We can give advice on any kind of training. No tricks, no gimmicks, just a nice place to go and get advice and get shoes, and a comfortable place to be."

That place will be located in the Oak Valley Shopping Center. Forsyth says they chose the location because it's one side of town without a running store currently, and because they expect growth in the area will bring more traffic to the store. 

"We looked around a bunch of different places, including different cities. I heard from numerous people that Jackson was a good place to go, but Nick was very passionate about Ann Arbor," Forsyth says. "Running is a huge thing in Ann Arbor these days."

The 3,200 square foot Ann Arbor Running Company will feature handmade racks and furnishings. Renovations on the space are underway, and Forsyth hopes to open the shop by early August. Though he and Stanko will initially run the store themselves, he anticipates hiring three full-time employees and a few part-time employees during their first year. 

Source: Ian Forsyth, Ann Arbor Running Company
Writer: Natalie Burg

Grand Rapids-based HopCat to open in downtown Ann Arbor, create 140 new jobs

A Grand Rapids favorite that has been popping up across Michigan will soon make an appearance in downtown Ann Arbor. BarFly Ventures, the firm behind more than one popular Grand Rapids bar recently announced their fifth HopCat location will open at 311-315 Maynard Ave. The $2 million investment in the former Borders space will result 140 new local jobs.
"Ann Arbor is such a great town for dining, entertainment and culture, it was a really logical fit," says Chris Knape, marketing and communications director for Barfly Ventures. "We think that adding HopCat to the mix will add to the excitement downtown." 

Just when Ann Arborites though they'd seen it all, HopCat will offer the largest draft system in the city with 100 varieties of craft beer on tap. A year after opening in East Lansing, work will soon begin on the 8,600 square foot space. But visitors to other HopCat locations shouldn't expect to see a cookie cutter remake.

"We're going to completely gut the space and add a unique design to it," says Knape. "Whenever we open a new location, each place feels different. Ann Arbor is going to feel a lot different from the location in East Lansing, just like East Lansing feels different from Grand Rapids."

The Ann Arbor HopCat is expected to open in January of 2015.  

Source: Chris Knape, HopCat
Writer: Natalie Burg

Vintage Barn Boutique brings fine furniture to downtown Chelsea

When Cathy Melton was a real estate broker in Florida, one of her favorite things about the job was the staging and design of the homes. That love grew into a design services business, and after the serial entrepreneur sold the business and moved back to Michigan, it led her to repairing and refurbishing furniture, which has culminated in the opening of Vintage Barn Boutique in downtown Chelsea. 

"I really enjoy the fact that I could transform things and give them new life," she says. "When I started doing the refurbishment of furniture, I found I had a passion for it."

Vintage Barn Boutique opened last week on Main Street in Chelsea in a 1,000 square foot storefront. Melton says the high, tin ceiling and the large, picture windows in the front of the shop made it a perfect fit for her work, which she repairs after collecting from estate sales, barns, the side of the road and more. 

"Nine times out of ten, if I can repair it, I'll purchase it," she says. "You can buy new furniture anywhere. This, for the most part, is all American made, and meets the high standard of quality that was normal when I was growing up."

The environmental factor is an important one for Melton. She says her work not only saves old furniture from filling up landfills, but is also gentle on the earth. She never uses any chemicals that are bad for the environment in her work. 

Though only open a week, Melton says the Chelsea community has been very welcoming of her and the new store. She will also accept consignment items that fit the high standards for quality she's established for the shop. 
Source: Cathy Melton, Vintage Barn Boutique
Writer: Natalie Burg

Ann Arbor native revives Blue Front with craft beer focus

The life of a longtime Ann Arbor establishment is getting extended and refreshed with the reopening of the Blue Front on Packard under new ownership and a new look. Ann Arbor native Adam Gottschalk opened his completely renovated version of the beer store last week after receiving a hot tip about the business opportunity just five months ago from his father. 

"It's been kind of a weird and very quick journey," says Gottschalk, whose parents manage the residential units above the store. "My dad said, 'Blue Front closed, why don't you move back and open up your own store? You have to decide by Monday.'"

Gottschalk was already following his passion for beer working for a beer retailer in Chicago, so it didn't take much for he and his wife to make the decision to take the leap. Since then, the approximately 1,500 square foot building has been totally renovated, including new floors, walls, ceilings, coolers and more. 

"People are always saying, 'I used to come in there all the time,'" Gottschalk says. "We want it to be that again. We're trying to bring back that neighborhood feel."

Along with that cozy aesthetic, the new Blue Front offers about 600 different beers and 150 wines. Gottschalk hopes to eventually expand his wine selection more, as well as offer weekly beer tastings in the shop. He recently hired his first employee, and expects to hire one to two additional staff members in the future. 

Source: Adam Gottschalk, Blue Front
Writer: Natalie Burg

Rock Paper Scissors keeps retail on Main Street with new Bed & Butter shop

Lisa Roberts loves being a part of the retail scene on Main Street with her shop Rock Paper Scissors — so much so, that she'll soon open her second venture on street, Bed & Butter

"As we've grown, we've listened to our customers, and we've heard they'd love to have a place to get a great wedding gift or get a great baby gift," says Roberts. "We thought it was a natural progression for us to offer great gifts for people."

Though the opportunity to take over the space soon to be vacated by La Belle Maison only came about recently, Roberts says the idea to create a store around home goods, kitchen, baby items and gifts has been in the works for years. The focus of Bed & Butter, she says, will be to sell items that are as beautiful as they are useful. 

Key to Roberts's decision to open her new store on Main was her desire to keep retail an important piece of the downtown business mix. 

"We love being a part of Main Street in Ann Arbor," she says. "We're so excited to have the opportunity to provide people with a place to shop locally. As Main Street continues to change, one thing we hope to contribute to a great mix of retail and restaurants."

The 333 S. Main store is approximately the same size as Rock Paper Scissors, and Roberts hopes to open by the Wolverine's first home football game in late August. A store manager has already been hired, and Roberts estimates four to six additional employees will join the team. Roberts also plans to eventually add classes to Bed & Butter's offerings, such as calligraphy and cocktails. 

Source: Lisa Roberts, Bed & Butter
Writer: Natalie Burg

Grillcheezerie brings fancy cheese, artisan bread and new jobs to Packard

It's hard to imagine anything better than a grilled cheese sandwich made with gourmet cheese and artisan bread, but Nick Costos has one idea: having that toasty, gooey sandwich delivered right to your door. Grilled cheese delivery, as well as dine-in eating, is coming to Packard St. in August with Grillcheezerie Sandwich Shoppe

"We're so used to American cheese and Wonder Bread," says Costos, who previously owned Mr. Greek's Coney Island. "We're going to use artisan bread and different types of cheddars, munsters, goudas, provolones and other specialty cheeses, and then coming up with different signature sandwiches." 

Those could include pizza-style grilled cheeses with pepperoni or wild mushroom with pesto, parsley and goat cheese. Costos came up with the idea after living in Montreal for the past eight years and being inspired by the small cheese shops and bakeries there.

"I've always wanted to get back into the business," he says. "And I love this town. I don't think you can get this vibe in too many places." 

The 1,500 square foot Packard St. space is now under renovation, which Costos hopes to complete by the end of the month. He plans to open Grillcheezerie the first or second week of August. The restaurant will initially employ a staff of about four, and will offer dine-in seating for 12 to 15 diners, as well as delivery.

Source: Nick Costos, Grillcheezerie Sandwich Shoppe
Writer: Natalie Burg

New Real Estate One office offers Ypsi pride and expertise

When it comes to the area real estate market, Ann Arbor gets most of the time and attention. Thanks to a new office in Ypsilanti, staffed with local agents, homebuyers looking to purchase there can get the attention they're looking for. 

"There was a need," says Dennis O'Hare, associate broker and manager of the new Ypsi office. "We just had an awful lot of people ask when are we going to open an office in Ypsilanti. Now we have agents who know Ypsilanti, believe in Ypsilanti and support Ypsilanti."

The 1,675 square foot office opened on June 4 on S. Huron. O'Hare says the central location was chosen for its easy access to the highway, as well as high visibility. The office currently employs seven agents and one administrative staff, but that's just the beginning. 

"Our goal here is to have get up to 20 agents," says O'Hare. "As we continue to grow, we'll keep adding staff as well. I'm recruiting constantly for new agents, as well as experienced agents."

The new Real Estate One office will celebrate a grand opening on July 17. 

Source: Dennis O'Hare, Real Estate One
Writer: Natalie Burg

Renovated Sushi.com to reopen as Miya with new foods and larger staff

Sushi.com closed its doors on June 4, but fans of the restaurant need not worry. It's soon to return as Miya, a Japanese and Korean food restaurant with a new look, new staff and new foods... as well as most of the old favorites. 

"We did the renovation for the whole restaurant," says owner Don Kim. "Everything is changed to a modern, Japanese style. We're building a whole new restaurant."

Kim says the menu will largely be the same but with the addition of some new appetizers and a wider selection of Korean foods than were offered previously. He decided on the name Miya, as that is how most Americans pronounce his wife's name, and it also translates in Japanese to "palace."

One thing that will definitely stay the same, says Kim, is his commitment to quality, healthy food.

"We are try to make everything fresh," he says. "It's clean and fresh and high quality food. Everyone knows Korean and Japanese food is healthy, and healthy is our main concern." 

The total renovation of the space began a few months ago, and Kim expect work to be completed and the restaurant open within about a week. The 1,300 square foot space will seat about 55 diners. Kim is now hiring two to three additional employees to staff Miya. A new website for the restaurant is forthcoming. 
Source: Don Kim, Miya
Writer: Natalie Burg
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