Becoming a Destination Town: New businesses opened this winter and more are on the way

Photo by Sean Bradley / News Advocate Beverly Cole (pictured) rents out a booth at Redeemed Furniture Art and Decor in Manistee to sell paintings, which she calls Native Americana folk art. She also repurposes wood pallets, making flower planters out of them.

Photo by Sean Bradley / News Advocate
Beverly Cole (pictured) rents out a booth at Redeemed Furniture Art and Decor in Manistee to sell paintings, which she calls Native Americana folk art. She also repurposes wood pallets, making flower planters out of them.

 

MANISTEE — The City of Manistee is becoming a destination town all its own thanks to a crop of eclectic new businesses springing up.

Redeemed Furniture Art and Decor artisan mall, located at 172 Memorial Drive, opened last month.

Corinn Fink, owner of Redeemed, said the store specializes in re-purposed, refurbished, vintage and handmade items which are created by vendors who rent out booth space at the store.

The store started as an outlet for Fink to sell the items she was making as a hobby, opening up a store in Onekama last summer, which has since closed.

“I think this kind of business is ready (to be here),” Fink said. “If I didn’t do it, somebody else would do it soon.”

Anchored by selling special wood paint from an Acworth, Ga.-based company called Rethunk Junk by Laura, Redeemed hosts classes for people to learn how to revitalize their furniture.

She said the paint does not require the user to strip and/or sand the wood they will be painting on, contrary to most furniture paints.

“When you redo a piece of furniture, technically you have to strip it down and/or sand it to get it back to its original wood so the paint will stick to it,” she said. “With this paint, you do not have to do that so it saves the whole messy and chemical process.”

She said the paint — which is available in special colors, such as Burlap, Flamingo, Cotton and others — goes over items such as vinyl, leather and formica, which normal paint would not.

Photo by Sean Bradley / News Advocate Booths, like this one, feature art and refurbished furniture and decor from vendors from around the area who have rented space at Redeemed Furniture Art and Decor to sell their goods.

Photo by Sean Bradley / News Advocate
Booths, like this one, feature art and refurbished furniture and decor from vendors from around the area who have rented space at Redeemed Furniture Art and Decor to sell their goods.

A furniture painting class is being hosted starting at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 27 where enrollees will revitalize a small piece of self-brought furniture such as a stool or small dresser.

Beverly Cole is one of the vendors at the artisan mall, showcasing her brand of Native Americana folk art via the paintings she creates, which are inspired by stories told to her.

“I’ve been told stories throughout my life, so I try to draw them,” Cole said.

Cole and her husband Dan, a retiree of the U.S. Army and U.S. Postal Service, moved to Manistee in May from Lynchburg, Va.

“I also re-purpose wood pallets,” she said. “I’ll ask if I can have them, tear them apart and make something out of it.”

She said the area needs more artisan malls such as Redeemed.

“In the summer time, people come here and they want to decorate their homes,” Cole said. “This is the place to come (for that).”

Over at 719 Kosciusko Street, Keith Sigourney and Linda VanSickle opened the Old US 31 Diner, which had its soft opening at the end of November.

“The building was presented to us over two years ago,” Sigourney said. “We’ve always wanted to open a little diner.”

He said the diner cooks everything fresh — from hand-cut and hand-battered fish, to homemade soups, fresh burgers and signature dishes such as the pot roast dip and dinner — giving the food a homemade taste and feel.

“It’s a diner with a home touch,” he said.

Photo by Sean Bradley / News Advocate Heather Adamski (left), a server at the Old US 31 Diner in Manistee, takes an order on Dec. 16 for Jacob Kiefer (right), an employee for Affordable Quality Construction, a construction company in Manistee.

Photo by Sean Bradley / News Advocate
Heather Adamski (left), a server at the Old US 31 Diner in Manistee, takes an order on Dec. 16 for Jacob Kiefer (right), an employee for Affordable Quality Construction, a construction company in Manistee.

Word of mouth, he said, has been helpful for spreading news about the diner.

“I’ve heard good things from people and on Facebook,” he said. “We’re on the right track.”

Manistee resident Mary Anderson heard about the diner from friends, having stopped in for lunch on Dec. 16.

“My friends said the food was very good,” Anderson said. “(Manistee) does need more restaurants.”

Shane Bedingham and Jacob Kiefer, employees of Affordable Quality Construction, in Manistee, have stopped in to the diner many times since it opened.

“People want to invest money (by coming here) so they must feel confident (in the business),” Kiefer said.

Bedingham ordered steak and eggs during his visit.

“I drove by and saw (the diner),” he said. “It’s my third time here.”

The diner’s grand opening is Jan. 1, 2015.

“We want to start 2015 off with a bang,” Sigourney said.

Incoming Businesses

Patrick Kay, Manistee Downtown Development Authority Executive Director, said nine new businesses have opened in the last year, and more are on the way.

“The former Fast Eddy’s Waterfront Pub (at 344 River Street) is going to be a place called Famous Flynn’s,” he said. “(The owner Dena Gilmore) is going to serve Italian pizza.”

He said Gilmore plans on a soft opening occurring in April of next year.

Also on the way is a recording studio and lounge occupying the old Bookmark bookstore building, he said, courtesy of a San Antonio couple who purchased the property.

“There’s a lot of businesses in town and bands who are looking for that sort of thing,” Kay said. “I think the main draw will be the lounge.”

Residents would like to see businesses and restaurants open later at night, he said, making Manistee a destination town because of increased entertainment options.

He said a woman from California is buying a building downtown, and a couple from the area purchased the H&K building as well as Hotel Northern.

“They’re finding areas that are investable,” he said. “They’re finding things which are going to be popping in the next year or two.”

Manistee is well on its way to becoming a destination town, he said.

“It’s no longer that place north of Ludington or that place an hour south of Traverse City,” he said. “Manistee is coming into its own right now.”

He said people concerned with the sustainability of area businesses should look no further than the Blue Fish Kitchen and Bar in Manistee, which opened in July 2013.

“One of the comments I get right now is ‘How is the Blue Fish doing?’,” he said. “They’re exceeding their expectations.”

He said Meijer will also have a positive impact on Manistee, helping it to grow.

“With Meijer coming in, with new restaurants coming in downtown, you’ll see more people moving to the community and more businesses opening,” he said.

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Posted by Sean Bradley

Sean is the city and cops and courts reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the entertainment and Reasons to Celebrate pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3109 or sbradley@pioneergroup.com.

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