Ed GreenLeaf Jr. says he never imagined he would be selling antiques in the space adjacent to Chelsea Lanes bowling center–a community fixture GreenLeaf opened in 1962. But when Aberdeen Bike & Fitness moved to a new location almost two years ago, leaving a 5,000-square-foot vacancy, GreenLeaf had a tough time filling it. Then his niece, Jamie Lane, pitched a novel idea for the space, and GreenLeaf went for it.
The Chelsea Antique and Collectibles Mall opened in September and will have a grand opening the weekend of Nov. 13 and 14. “It’s truly a case of ‘Build it and they will come,'” GreenLeaf says. Twenty-six vendors have leased booths to sell their wares, and he has a waiting list of more who want space. Vendors need not be present; one cashier handles sales, and GreenLeaf mails checks twice a month, with vendors receiving 100 percent of their sales.
“We’ve got a mix of independent business people–from dealers who lease three booths for six months at a time, to people who are trying this for the first time and are renting by the month just to sell some family collectibles,” he says.
Matt Wentz of Grass Lake features a pair of seven-foot tribal statues, a life-size shark sculpture, and an old Blue Sunoco gas pump in his booth. Across the aisle, Brian and Kaye Ewalt of Brooklyn are selling crocheted doilies, a Victorian oil lamp, and an antique dining set, among other items. Bill Burgess of Grass Lake offers collectible glass jars in his booth–specializing in early American fruit jars. Other booths in the mall–with vendors from as far away as Highland and Okemos–sell antique toys, record albums, linens, paintings, and more.
“There’s something for everyone,” GreenLeaf says. “We offer a lot in the $5 to $15 range that’s selling particularly well.” GreenLeaf already is expanding into the back of the building to add more booths, and he plans to have a selection of antique cars for sale, too. He dreams one day of hosting an outdoor flea market on the acre of land in back of his property.
But for now he says he’s busy enough overseeing the new business, while his wife Kathy GreenLeaf, and son, Ed GreenLeaf III, run the bowling center.
“Some people are asking if the antiques will take over the bowling center, but at this point I don’t have any plans to get rid of any lanes,” he laughs. “I want everyone to know we’re still open for bowling!”
Chelsea Antique and Collectibles Mall, 1178 S. Main St., 562-2190. Tues.-Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., closed Mon.
When Jet’s Pizza franchise owner Jason Povlich helped move his good friend Jason Bendinelli cross-country from Colorado to Chelsea a couple months ago, Povlich’s main goal was to get his friend’s help running his pizza business. But the duo–who met a decade ago selling “hippie” merchandise at a music festival–had always wanted to open a store together, and they will get their wish sooner than they had planned. As of October they were planning to open Back to the Roots, a fair-trade clothing store and organic tea bar, the day after Thanksgiving in the former Chelsea Gallery space.
Bendinelli owns a Back to the Roots store in Manitou Springs, Colorado, and Povlich says the pair talked about opening a second store in Chelsea “maybe in another year.” But the vacant Main Street location made sense, and the price was right, so the two friends and a third business partner, Caleb Lange, of North Carolina, jumped at the chance. The store will be next door to the nonprofit Mission Marketplace, which also sells fair-trade gift items.
“We don’t see the two stores as competing but rather as complementing each other,” says Bendinelli, who says they met with members of Mission Marketplace’s board before deciding to rent the space. He says Back to the Roots will carry mostly clothing, and they foresee overlap of only two product lines at the two stores–scarves and drums. The bar will offer loose-leaf tea as well as organic sandwiches and wraps to eat in or take out.
“We don’t see fair trade as a niche business,” Bendinelli says. “We see this as something everyone should be carrying because it’s the right thing to do.” Although the store will be for-profit, the partners plan to donate a significant portion of profits to partner Lange’s Asha House, a children’s orphanage in New Delhi, India. And they hope it will be the start of something big: the partners want to open additional stores in Ann Arbor, East Lansing, and other cities.
Back to the Roots, 115 S. Main, opening November 26, open daily with hours to be determined.
Divine Java, on Main Street on the south side of town, closed in September. The owner could not be reached for comment, but a letter on Divine Java’s website states that “rent is simply more than we can afford.” And competition appears to have been a factor in the closing: “…a new coffee shop moving in at the corner has necessitated that we look for another location.”
That new coffee shop is Biggby Coffee, and owner Chris Kosmet says he’s set to open November 16 in the strip mall. “I’m excited to become part of the community and to be my own boss,” he says. A Jackson resident, Kosmet grew up around aunts and uncles in the restaurant business. The newly constructed store will feature a fireplace, a TV, and seating for thirty. “I think it will be a great space to meet friends and for small groups to gather,” he says. In addition to beverages, the store will sell bakery items and “Bragels”–bagel sandwiches.
Biggby Coffee, 1171 S. Main St., 562-2183. Mon.-Sat. 5:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun. 7 a.m.-9 p.m.
“I’m ready for a new season and new fun,” says Winans Jewelry owner Rob Winans about the decision he made with his wife, Lori, to close the Main Street landmark–in business since 1898. He says the business is up for sale, but he plans to close the doors by mid-December. Four generations of family members have run the business. Rob bought it from his father in 1993 and has worked at the store for thirty-eight years. Winans will hold a “retirement sale” beginning November 13.
Winans Jewelry, 108 S. Main, 475-2622. Mon. 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Tues.-Fri. 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Closed Sun.