Clinton Zimmerman is an entrepreneurial man of many passions. They just so happen to all converge in his newest Big Rapids-based venture, Red Fox Market. From performance artist and naturopath to bodyworker and business owner, Zimmerman has carved out a distinct niche for himself and the community at large. Revue asked the trailblazer about his past, present and prospective future.
What sets apart your new grocery store from other local businesses?
We are offering a very modern feel in a very old (building). We’re a progressive grocery store that’s Michigan focused, natural food grocery and education driven.
I know you and your partner worked to renovate the building. Tell me about your DIY process.
We bought the second oldest building in Big Rapids. It was built in 1882 and has had a very rich history. When we took the building over, it had 40 years of neglect and was in a big state of disrepair. Nicholas, my partner, is a historic preservationist and has been a key component in the restoration project of the building, as well as helping me maintain my sanity. We have also been very fortunate to have had a couple other of my friends put in many volunteer hours. They came with a huge tool belt of carpentry skills and gumption.
Is there a singular moment that you knew you wanted to launch your business?
This has always been a dream of mine. I worked at our small health food store here in Big Rapids when I was 17, and I think ever since then it’s been a dream. I have (also) worked in several retail health related stores in my day. Yes, with each one you learn many different things.
Why did you decide to launch this business in your hometown?
A couple years ago, my Dad passed away and my Mom was struggling to pick her life back up again after 52 years of marriage. After waiting a year to see how she was doing, I decided it was time to move back home (from Ann Arbor) and start a project, because I couldn’t live in Big Rapids without a project.
I know you practice some medicine out of your new space. What are your titles?
I’m a board-certified naturopathic doctor, certified traditional naturopath, licensed massage therapist, and a bodywork practitioner.
How long has that been part of your life?
I’ve been practicing for almost 20 years as of now. I did a few pre-med classes through Ferris State University, then decided that wasn’t the route I was looking for. I grew up in a very naturalistic type of family. We lived off the land a lot. Also, when I lived in the Netherlands as an exchange student, my host mother was very influential in my studies for ‘always something better.’ I decided to pursue being a naturopath, because herbs were always interesting to me. I went to school for five years all together.
I first met you through performance art, from butoh dance (we’ll explain later) to burlesque. What’s the origin story there?
I went to a street art show in Eastown of Grand Rapids that a couple friends invited me to and I saw a group of butoh buskers performing. As I watched them, I was highly intrigued by the story they were telling. It was so great to watch the audience and the crowd of people. They had so many reactions, from interest to uncomfortable to confusion. I thought, “This is art!”
How did you get personally involved after that?
I then found out about classes being offered through the UICA, every Sunday evening. At the time, I was suffering from some very deep and crippling anxiety and depression, but something told me internally that this would help face some internal challenges. So I made myself go, every week, even through the panic attacks. Because after every class I felt more connected to myself and more empowered.
How would you succinctly describe butoh to a stranger on the street?
Butoh is a meditative moment. You are thinking about the story you wish to tell, and you move to that story as you meditate. You are always remaining in connection with the elements surrounding you, because from those elements comes your energy, not yourself. Drawing from those elements, use that energy, follow the flow, and create your story that you need to tell to the world.
I’d like to write a book, travel more, and grow a really nice and successful business that helps enrich people’s lives and their community. I always am working on new performance stuff in my head, and on paper. I love doing small venue performances, and I do hope to get back to teaching Butoh workshops again.