An Underground Boutique in Dexter
And other Dexter marketplace changes
Published in December, 2018
Dexter's newest boutique is hard to find if you don't know where to look. In October, stylists Whitney Shoemaker and Ana Maria Barge opened Ana & Joy in the basement of their workplace, Whit's End Hair Salon on Main St.
Shoemaker and Barge are hoping to find a larger space downtown, but for now they've filled a small former waiting area with sweaters, dresses, pants, shoes, scarves, and accessories.
"We wanted to keep our clients in mind," says Barge. "We are an upscale salon, so we have a lot of customers that are from Dexter that are professionals, and we wanted to have something edgy ...something with a little whimsy, obviously a little bling. Whitney and I like bling," she adds.
Most immediately striking are a selection of round, faux-fur purses on gold chains, with matching pom-poms attached. They match some of the other items, like a few upcycled footstools that Barge has reupholstered in fluffy pink fake fur and a red velvet dress. "We like everything sparkly and pretty," she says. "And we like taking old things and making them look new."
Bohemian earrings start at $8 and cozy-looking sweaters around $50. Both women saved their tips over the summer to stock the space, and Barge says with pride, "We are in no debt."
The "Joy" in the store's name comes from Shoemaker's middle name. "I'm okay with that," she says. "I have 'Whit' on a lot of things." She's run Whit's End for seven years, and she also has a homemade candle business called Whit's Wicks. They've picked out many of their vendors for the boutique by exploring the artisan fairs where Shoemaker sells the candles.
"The clients are really loving it. It's in our salon, so it's not like we're grabbing tons of street traffic," Shoemaker admits. But, she says she'd be happy to see more people coming in. On December 3, the salon is holding a holiday shopping event that they hope will draw
in more people.
Do they have trouble with the small space? "Yes and no," says Shoemaker. "I keep telling her 'I feel like a bull in a china cabinet!'" but she praises Barge's display skills: "She makes it look so pretty."
Ana & Joy, 8122 Main (in the basement), Dexter. (734) 424-9923. Mon. 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Tues.-Thurs. 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri. 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Sun.
Cassandra Provenzola estimates that she's designed kitchens and baths for as many as 200 Michigan homes. Her new store, Proven Kitchen & Bath Studio, features a showroom of Provenzola's favorite fixtures in the back and a small, quaint boutique of handmade items in front. The eclectic mix includes tea towels, candles, beard balms, and a ceramic bowl shaped and painted to look like an open head. Provenzola says her inventory comes from connections with artisans made through past clients, plus her own time browsing farmers' markets.
Provenzola started Proven (an abbreviation of her last name) four years ago while she was doing design work at a firm in Northville. As more and more friends and friends of friends started to ask her to redo their houses, she knew she wanted to become a licensed builder too. "As a designer, I got really frustrated with all of my builders telling me 'We can't do this.' I was consistently asking 'Why can't we do this?'... I was always told no. I became a licensed builder so that I could never tell myself no!"
The showroom features a selection of quartz countertop lines and three lines of cabinets. She likes to carry eco-friendly brands, like Holiday Kitchens, which creates some cabinet doors entirely out of sawdust and have low-or-no-volatile organic compounds in their paint.
Raised in Manchester and living in Chelsea with her husband and two children, Provenzola says she's "really happy to be in Dexter. I wanted a community that I could build a business in that was friendly and welcoming and it really seems to me like that's exactly what I got."
Proven Kitchen, 3219 Broad, Dexter. (734) 253-2550. Mon. & Tue. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Wed. 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Thurs. 10 a.m.-5p.m., Fri. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Sun. noon-4 p.m. provenkitchenandbathstudio.com
Elmo Morales closed Elmo's Ping Pong Palace at the end of July. But, he says, "my original goal of a champion by 2036 is on target." Elmo and his brother Esteban teach a weekly after-school class at Creekside Middle School. "They absolutely love it!" says Elmo.
He had hoped to build up a "culture of ping-pong" in the area with his Palace, but the former gym teacher says they weren't getting the numbers they needed to keep it going. The Dexter Crossing space is now the Flipside Art Studio.
The two say they're hoping to keep expanding the program in Dexter Community Schools. And "if anybody's got a space available for eight [ping-pong] tables..." says Esteban. "(734) 604-5989" chimes in Elmo.
[Originally published in December, 2018.]
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