Rockin' with Zelda
"Zelda's a real attention whore," says Linden of the mannequin, who took up her post within weeks of the store's opening last March.
The roots of the business are in California, where Linden's brother, Kohl, started a cell phone repair business out of his car in 2010. It did well enough that Kort helped Kohl open a store, and then opened one of his own. Their father--an "inventor, tinkerer, marketer, and entrepreneur"--invented a mobile billboard attached to a motor scooter, then later to a power wheelchair, that traversed the surrounding neighborhood to market the business. The overwhelmingly positive response prompted Kort to open two more stores there.
The business and his future changed when Chizek, a musical theater performer, stopped in for a phone repair. The couple, in their mid-twenties, fell for each other. They decided to move to Michigan last year after visiting Chizek's family over the holidays, recalling how much they loved Michigan's changing seasons, and finding the Liberty St. storefront available.
Linden's father, ever the marketer, recommended a sign-wearing mannequin to promote the new store. "I looked at some," says Linden, "but none seemed durable enough for Michigan weather." But then he thought that if the mannequin kept moving, the elements would have less chance to do damage.