Two Coming Downtown

August 28, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — Schuler Books & Music isn’t the only retailer getting ready to fill a downtown storefront soon. A women’s clothing boutique that features a unique business angle also will be opening a new shop in the downtown district.

One Girl’s Treasure will lease 3,400 square feet of ground floor space in 5 Lyon, the former Commerce Building on the northwest corner of Lyon Street and Division Avenue. Six of the structure’s nine floors serve as housing for college students. The building is just a few blocks from Grand Rapids Community College, Ferris State University and Kendall College of Art and Design.

So it makes perfect sense for business owner Tammy Jacobi to target One Girl’s Treasure to young women.

“Twelve to 24 — but what we’re seeing is that women over 24, like myself, still want to dress that way, and we want to be able to save money, too. This is a great way to save money, because I’m selling things at 75 percent off the original cost,” she said.

One Girl’s Treasure will sell used clothing, shoes, and accessories such as purses and belts, but it won’t be a consignment store because Jacobi is using a different approach. She will buy the trendy fashions outright and then resell the items.

“Goodwill has made it cool to go shopping for used clothing. They’ve really updated their stores. But what they really started doing was changing their purchasers, so the people that put the clothes on the floor are hip to what’s in right now,” said Jacobi.

“We’re kind of doing the same thing: hiring the right kind of people to pick the clothes that are really in right now. We’re so lucky because we have all the art students from Kendall living in our building who want to work here.”

Jacobi said she would make her store “an experience” for her customers. Large televisions will be located throughout the shop, and her space will be big enough to offer shoppers a wide array of clothing without pinning them between racks and shelves. The boutique’s entryway features a lot of glass, and that gives Jacobi room for merchandise displays at street level.

Jacobi will be leaving her current location at 200 Ionia Ave. NW for 5 Lyon as soon as Rockford Construction Co. finishes carving out her new space. Until then, Jacobi said she has been buying clothes and taking job applications for the new store at her current site, which is across from the county courthouse.

“My employees have a lot of creative control, so we’re getting a lot of interesting, fun stuff coming in. The trends are huge in this business, really huge. It’s an up-and-coming thing. I think it’s going to really work in that spot because we’re getting a really good response,” she said.

Jacobi said it would be a few weeks yet before she will know the exact date of the new store’s opening.

Rockford Development bought 5 Lyon in 2003 and began turning much of the former office building into student housing. About 100 college students live there now, and a few units are still available for the current school year. Adding Jacobi’s store to the building appears to be a natural match.

“With the support of the large college student demographic living in this area, One Girl’s Treasure, and hopefully other retailers, will become a success, inspire others to invest, and create additional employment opportunities in this area,” said Mike Maier, president of Rockford Development, the firm that convinced both retailers to lease space in the firm’s buildings.

Bill and Cecile Fehsenfeld will open their fifth Schuler Books & Music in the former Steketee’s department store at 86 Monroe Center in the same 8,000 square feet that was home to River Bank Books & Music for the better part of a year until last December.

The Fehsenfelds bought the assets of River Bank Books & Music, and they also plan to offer customers a full-service coffee bar and café with seating for about 60.

“We share the enthusiasm of our friends and neighboring businesses and expect great things from our newest location,” said Cecile Fehsenfeld, president of Schuler Books & Music.

The Fehsenfelds, a husband-and-wife team, are celebrating their 25th year in the independent bookstore business. They opened their first Schuler’s on 28th Street SE in 1982. Since then they’ve added stores in Lansing, Okemos and on Alpine Avenue NW in Walker. An opening date for the Monroe Center location hasn’t been finalized yet.

“Bringing a local company with a track record of strategic growth like Schuler Books & Music to this space is ideal for us as a developer and for the community,” said Maier, whose company also owns and manages the building. “Schuler’s business model and approach is strong and their vision is similar to ours. This is a coup for downtown Grand Rapids.” 

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