If you’ve lived in Grand Rapids for a while, you’ve watched in awe as neighborhoods that once had a shop or two — or maybe just a string of vacant buildings — have burst with activity and bloomed with new life. The city is in its springtime, with thriving retail districts and up-and-coming avenues regularly welcoming new retail businesses.
Even communities further afield are seeing a renaissance.
While COVID-19 obviously put a damper on that renaissance, our local shopping scene is far from dead. In fact, if you’re reading this when the quarantine is over, now’s the perfect time to get out and support local businesses. Plus, spring is here: You’re going to want some new outfits!
For those looking for one-of-a-kind items, from apparel to jewelry to home goods and more, there’s an abundance to be found in Grand Rapids and its vicinity. And for those who love the nationally known labels, there are plenty of places to score those, too.
The really special thing is that these shops like to come together as a neighborhood and help each other out. Here’s a roundup of where to get your shopping fix.
East Hills/Cherry Hill
Marked by a brick monument at the intersection of Diamond, Lake and Cherry, East Hills (Center of the Universe) is home to a number of locally owned shops. Pop into the Blackport Building lot and check out Nestology for handmade jewelry, gifts, and accessories or Global Infusion for fair trade products, tea, spices, coffee, and chocolate. Wander down Cherry and you’ll find more favorites, such as Gemini Handmade for handcrafted leather goods and wearable textiles, Books & Mortar for progressive reading materials, or Hopscotch for kids’ educational toys and games. Dotted in between are many more gems.
The OG of eclectic shopping in GR, Eastown spans parts of Lake Drive southeast of Cherry and Wealthy Street east, with standbys like Argos for new and used books and comics and Spirit Dreams for mind, body, and soul-soothing products, including crystals, gemstones, candles, and incense. Somewhat newer to the scene is Rebel, topping many Rapidians’ lists for uncommon gifts, home accessories and paper goods. And if you happen to be in the area the first Saturday of the month, stop in to Wealthy Theatre for Indie Flea, a local makers’ pop-up market.
There is A LOT happening west of Eastown in the Heritage Hill area on Wealthy. Woosah Outfitters has a loyal following for all things outdoors, with a focus on clothing, gear, and nature-inspired artwork, while Dime & Regal draws shoppers in for fine jewelry designed and made by women artisans. Fox Naturals is a go-to for all-natural hair, skin, and body care products and The Plant Parlor is budding with houseplants, pottery, and plant accessories. Your best bet is to get out and walk the stretch to take in all the offerings in this rejuvenated district.
If high-end name brands are more your speed, you’ll find a stellar collection of them in Breton Village, at the corner of Breton and Burton. For a sampling, there’s West Elm for modern home décor, Orvis for sporting goods, and Anthropologie, Jos A Bank, Leigh’s, and lululemon for men’s and women’s apparel. While in the area, don’t miss Sur La Table across the road on Burton, for upscale kitchenware and dining essentials.
Rockford is known not just for shoes, but for its charming setting on the Rogue River. Specialty shops and boutiques abound, especially for women’s fashion. Highlights include Ila & Lucille, LA Miller Boutique, Lee & Birch, Jade, and Paperdoll. For foodies, there’s Rockford Cheese Shop, Herman’s Boy, Old World Olive Co., and Sweetland Candies. And Haven Creek features gifts, home décor and locally made products.
If you like riverview shopping, you’ll love Lowell, situated on the Flat River about 20 minutes east of Grand Rapids. The historic shopping district is surging again, with Bettie’s Pages selling books, local art, and vintage inspired gifts, alongside Lavender & Lace Boutique and Tap House Bo, both stocked with unique women’s styles and accessories. Looking for vintage, retro and repurposed finds? Head over to Northstar Antiques and Flat River Cottage. These are just a few to browse on your stroll through downtown.
Ada, yet another quaint destination, boasts both the Grand River and the Thornapple River. On the streets nestled within are several shops to satisfy your shopping needs. Ada Village General Store has nostalgic flair with sweets and novelties and Michigan-made gifts, while Pursuit has paper-oriented items such as greeting cards and stationery, office and art supplies, and journals and books. Georgie’s and Village Kids offer consignment clothing — and if you’re into riding bikes or horses, Grand Rapids Bicycle Company caters to the former and The Classic Equestrian, LLC to the latter.
Don’t Forget …
Other classic Grand Rapids-area shopping districts include Gaslight Village on the east end of Wealthy near Lakeside Drive, Old East End that spans Fulton from Eastern to Fuller, and Downtown along and around Monroe Center. Each has a diverse selection of shops worth the trip!