Made By Michigan Makers

November 18, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — Hopscotch Children’s Store opened for business last week with racks and shelves of made-by-hand, high-quality clothing, dolls and toys produced exclusively by Michigan manufacturers.

Sisters Rachel Zylstra and Christine Grant spent two years planning the store, which is located at 958 Lake Drive SE. And they devoted 18 months of those two years to scouring the state to find enough makers of children’s goods to fill Hopscotch.

“We have a full line of children’s items, everything from clothing to toys to games. We have room décor like lamps, tables and chairs. We have some art items. We also have baby items, like cloth diapers, clothes, baby ointments, blankets and things like that. We have a good line of doll accessories and clothes, too, which we’re hoping will be a staple. We have basically everything you can imagine for kids,” said Zylstra.

“What makes it all unique is, it is all handmade and locally made — basically, throughout Michigan. And that is what makes us very different from other stores.”

Zylstra said the idea of only carrying handmade items produced in the state was the catalyst behind the store. Because there are only a few manufacturers in the greater Grand Rapids area that make children’s goods, she and Grant had to search both peninsulas to make their idea work. And the hunt was worth the effort.

“It is unbelievable what is out there,” said Zylstra. “We’re still finding people and we’re still taking stuff in. But I think it took us a year and a half to come across enough people.”

Stocking merchandise made only in Michigan isn’t the sole unique feature of the shop. Zylstra and Grant also plan to hold arts-and-crafts events for kids at Hopscotch, and bring in authors and musicians that should appeal to youngsters.

“Also, some of our suppliers want to be able to participate in things with kids. One of our suppliers is a weaver and she spins wool into yarn and she wants to come and teach. We’ll also have some classes on how to knit dolls,” said Zylstra.

The store will be open from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Tuesdays through Fridays, and from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Saturdays.

“We wanted it to be a nice store, not a lot of crafty items,” said Zylstra.

“We wanted it to be handmade and high quality.”    

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