New and exciting things happening in West Michigan nonprofits and businesses since 2007.
"Hello, this is reality." That is how Kaylin answers the phone at her mysterious new shop in Eastown. Called Reality (1423 Lake Dr. DE), the shop is Michigan's (and possibly the world's) only music festival shop. Housed in the massive Kingsley Building, Kalyn and her partner Casey filled the cavernous space with gear that you would find at a festival. "Everything we have either lights up, can be set on fire or is 3-D," said 23-year-old Kaylyn. They have groovy posters and wall coverings, incense, freaky t-shirts, beads and CLEVER trinkets. The "self-explorium emporium" specializes in the flow arts, a term this writer had never heard before. You can buy professional-quality hula-hoops, poi and staffs that spin, burn and flash. You can also touch and play with almost everything in the store, which includes a corner set aside for hooping. Casey and Kaylyn want Reality to be a hub for the counter culture in Grand Rapids. Local bands can perform in the shop, local artists can show their artwork, and they host free Flowjams in Wilcox Park on Sundays at 5:30 p.m. With all the spinning and color and textures and hands-on activities, Reality is very popular with children. Unplug the kids from the X-Box and iPad and take them to Reality. See if they can find Smokey Taboo, the shop's pet chameleon.
With all the spinning, this reporter got a little dizzy. So I headed across the river to Dizzy Dogs (1757 Plainfield NE) kitty corner from the new City Middle/High School. Ross Rockwell has breathed new life into the storefront space with great food and a friendly attitude. This is Ross' first restaurant, but he has food in his blood. His uncle owns Sam's Joint and he traveled all over the country building displays for Gordon Food Service. Park in front of the restaurant, beneath the bright yellow Dizzy Dog sign and you will be greeted by an array of hand-painted posters advertising all sorts of meats and vegetables that can be fried, broiled, boiled, dipped and flipped, my pets. Ross greets you through the screen with a smile, takes your order and then makes your meal with fresh ingredients. In addition to the eponymous Dizzy Dog — a hand-dipped, never frozen, corn dog — you can choose from chili dogs, pulled pork sandwiches and kraut dogs. Get the basket with thick hand-sliced fresh potato chips. The ice cream sandwich made with homemade windmill cookies by Touch of Dutch Bakery was outstanding.
If the tail-wagging, slobbering kind of dog is more to your liking, then you need to visit the charming burgh(s) of Saugatuck and Douglas. "We are the most dog-friendly town in the state," said the effervescent Felicia Fairchild of the Saugatuck-Douglas Convention and Visitors Bureau. Dogs are allowed in nearly every shop with most restaurants accommodating the four-legged crowd. "You can even get dog food delivered to your cottage or bed and breakfast," Felicia said.
Groovy Paws (131 Mason St.) not only delivers dog food free locally, it is the biggest and most high-end pet shop in Saugatuck. Frequented by the devilish Miss Carolita, the bright, colorful store is chock full of high-quality pet food, supplies and gifts 100 percent made in the USA. You can buy Doggie Beer Bones, made from spent brewing grain, cookies and cakes from Ebby's Pet Bakery in Muskegon and beanbags for your pet from Barka Parka. They also have human-grade dog food from Grandma Lucy's, Honest Kitchen and Stella and Chewy's. Remember, my petunias, a happy dog is a happy couch.
Lantern Coffee Bar and Lounge (100 Commerce) adds a touch of glamor to Grand Rapids' coffee scene. Located in downtown's Law School District (LSD), the bi-level shop is cloaked in warm mahogany tones shot with crystal sparkle. Lantern is the result of years of preparation by owners Steve Wiltjer and Kevin Wallace. Steve is a certified barista and trainer with the Specialty Coffee Association of America. Kevin has experience working in profitable coffee shops. Together they have created a Venti venue that offers great, intentional coffee, full espresso menu and small bites. Come for the coffee, stay to watch the law students weeping over their rejection letters from University of Michigan Law School.
Colliers International-West Michigan recently announced that Jamie Stiles was tapped as director of operations. The former HR manager has been with the firm since 2007.
Momentum in downtown Battle Creek continues to grow for the redevelopment of the 19-story 269 Lofts at the Heritage Project. This is a major $23.25 million investment in the Creek by 616 Development of Grand Rapids.
Construction workers have begun the long-awaited facade demolition of the former fish shack that will be the future home of Elk Brewing (700 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids). That's within limpin' distance for Poppa Steve.