Downtown Lansing welcomed six new businesses to Washington Avenue at their grand opening ceremony at Middle Village Micro Market.
Middle Village allows new businesses to test their products and ideas while becoming active in the Lansing community and growing their customer base.
The program was created by Downtown Lansing Inc. in October 2021 as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and vacancy rates in downtown Lansing.
“We give them business programming, we give them a small, less risky place to open their storefront, and by the time they graduate after a year, they’ll open a storefront downtown,” Director of Downtown Community Development for Downtown Lansing Julie Reinhardt said.
The Gold Mine is an artist co-op where customers can buy and discover art from local artists in the area. The shop is an extension of the Artist's Umbrella, an artist collaborative founded in 2019 which aims to uplift local artists from the Lansing community.
“We try to offer a larger, more profitable platform for local artists to pursue their crafts,” Executive Director Brandon Navin said. “We have painters, we’ve got hula-hoopers, comedians, poets, musicians, storytellers, fire spinners.”
“It’s just this bottomless wealth of talent in the area,” Navin said. “It doesn’t matter how much new talent we run across, there’s always more coming to the surface.”
CocoBella is a fashion-forward and trendy boutique that seeks to empower its customers no matter what they choose to wear — “whether it’s a turtleneck or a short skirt,” CocoBella owner Shebeeka Monique said.
“We are all about women, all women,” Monique said. “They have the best girlfriend experience when they shop here."
“I’ve been doing this for about three, maybe four, years now, and I’m about to move across the street and have my own storefront,” Castle said.
Castle hand-dyes all the apparel and products on offer at Capital Hippie, and the shop is filled with colorful dresses, shirts and hats.
“I’m bringing rainbows,” Castle said.
Danielle Easlick is the owner ofSylvia’s Sudsery, a soap and spa goods store named after her grandmother.
“She believed in bringing out the best in people” Easlick said. “That’s what we intend to do with Sylvia's Sudsery.”
The Sudsery's vegan-friendly artisan soaps, bath bombs and shower steamers are sure to enhance any self-care experience, Easlick said.
Erin von Kronenberger is an artist and Michigan State University alumna who studied apparel and textile design with a focus on trend forecasting. Now, she’s opening Poor Sport, a shop dedicated to showcasing up-and-coming artists and makers alongside affordable home goods.
“I really want a space that compliments the kind of art I’m seeing coming out of Lansing, East Lansing and Michigan as a whole,” Kronenberger said.
Kronenberger said everything in the store is secondhand or handmade by artists and makers.
She said hopes to use her shop as a platform for local artists and students.
“I’m on the lookout for a good space,” she said. “It’s really important for me to have art exhibitions, maybe performances, workshops for artists and makers, too. I really want to get students involved.”
Nature’s 92 is a health and wellness shop that offers organic supplements, herbal teas and other health products such as soaps and beauty masks.
Owner Deardra Westfall uses sea moss in most of her products for its health benefits.
“The sea moss is a marine vegetable,” Westfall said. “It helps reverse mineral deficiencies. It’s an anti-inflammatory and it removes the mucus out of your body.”
Westfall said she eventually plans to offer customers sea moss smoothies and popsicles.
“My goal is to provide holistic help to every price point for people,” Westfall said. “It’s for everybody. I believe in holistic healing.”
Westfall, a lifetime resident of Lansing, said she is excited to be part of the developing community.
“It’s a dream come true to be down here, to see the revitalization of downtown and to be a part of that,” she said.
Middle Village will soon be welcoming Capital City Sweets – a craft cookie dough and ice cream store – to the retail space.
Middle Village Micro Market is located at 112 S. Washington Square in downtown Lansing. The market is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.
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