Lakeshore, Real Estate, and Retail

Retailers fill in lakeshore downtown

April 11, 2014
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Retailers fill in lakeshore downtown
The Century Block buildings are part of downtown Muskegon’s redevelopment. Photo via centuryblockmuskegon.com

Four boutiques are the new kids on the block in a lakeshore town.

Century Club Shops, a renovated retail center in Muskegon, said this month that four new boutiques have joined its space, at 356 W. Western Ave.

New retailers

LeFleur Flower Shoppe, Apple Valley Yarn West, Maggie’s Gourmet Foods & Gifts and Glo’s Repurpose on Purpose join the existing Century Club Shops retailers: Stormy Kromer Outfitter, Sierra Skye Studios, BananaDog Teas and Emmaj’s LadyBug Shop.

Glo’s Repurpose on Purpose artistically transforms mirrors into “must-have” home décor.

LeFleur Flower Shoppe is owned by Deb Moon and has been established since 1999. The floral, seasonal décor and gift shop is expanding into the main aisle of Century Club Shops.

Chantella Bentsen, owner of Apple Valley Yarn West, has two other locations in Midland and Clare.

Maggie’s Gourmet Foods & Gifts is celebrating more than 15 years of providing specialty products and gift baskets and will be opening its location at Century Club Shops this month.

Redeveloped block

Century Club Shops and the neighboring Russell Block building and Muskegon Savings Bank building comprise the Century Block in downtown Muskegon.

The Century Block buildings, owned by Gary Post, have been restored and redeveloped.

Post said the block is set up as an incubator setting to help retailers grow and network with resources in the area.

The renovation of the Russell Block building and Century Club Shops were supported by the Downtown Muskegon Development Corporation.

“We continue to see more and more interest in downtown Muskegon,” Post said. “Some folks were dismayed so much of the downtown was torn down. On the other hand, it gave us kind of a clean slate to start with. There has been a lot of local involvement and investment.”

The Russell Block building accommodates boutiques: Drip Drop Drink Coffee Bar; Unruly Brewing Co.; and The Block, a concert space for the West Michigan Symphony.

The Muskegon Savings Bank, currently under renovation, is home to the winter market and will be open to retailers in this summer, according to the Century Block website.

Urban perspective

With a background in construction and roughly 20 years of his career spent in downtown Grand Rapids during some of the restoration of the downtown, Post said he had the benefit of watching vibrancy and vitality return to the city.

“I think the residential piece was a big part of that,” Post said. “I think they are closely related, but I think retail is really critical, because when people live downtown, they want to be able to shop downtown.”

Recognizing the potential for a similar opportunity in Muskegon, Post purchased the three historic buildings and is optimistic the retail aspect will continue to develop.

“Personally, I believe that retail and residential are two necessary and critical components of a successful downtown,” Post said. “Admittedly, retail is still a struggle in any downtown community. Retail is a pretty fragile component.”

Destination

Barb Johnson, in charge of marketing and promotions for Century Club Shops, said having a collection of businesses in the three buildings is an effort to drive traffic in downtown Muskegon.

“People want to invest in the downtown area, and it is certainly exciting to see,” Johnson said. “They have a variety of things that people could be interested in, and I am hoping that will increase interest from all ages.”

There are a number of events in the planning stage meant to encourage people to explore and learn about the businesses at the Century Block buildings, Johnson said.

“We’re trying to make that a destination place for people,” Johnson said. “In some respects, it is a diamond in the rough. Yet, there are a lot of neat things going on. People are here for the long run. People want to invest in it.”  

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