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Celebrating growth of women-run businesses in Heartside neighborhood

Three women-owned businesses are creating new attractions in downtown Grand Rapids, featuring smart reuse, creative making and exciting shopping alternatives.
Second Dance

Second Dance /Allyson Huttenga

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Visit all three locations along the South Division Cooridor

The February First Friday will be taking place on February 5 from 6-10 p.m. along the South Division corridor and will provide community engagement through 10 different exhibitions, sales and pop-up shops and a salon-style open critique for local artists. Bring your friends and family, or have a night out to yourself and have fun celebrating local artists and makers.

Bombadil Books

Bombadil Books /Courtesy of Bombadil Books

Dime and Regal

Dime and Regal /Courtesy of Dime and Regal

With the growth of businesses on the Avenue for the Arts, women are strengthening their leadership and roots in our arts community. Avenue for the Arts is the neighborhood title for the South Division corridor between Fulton and Wealthy and features over 60 shops, nonprofits, innovative commercial spaces and over 500 apartments and live/work artist studios.

The newest addition to the Avenue community of creatives is local artist and maker Courtney Jones of Dime & Regal at 209 S.Division, which features goods that are handmade by Jones herself. Much like Erica Lang, founder and artist behind Woosah Outfitters, Jones started her business by making jewelry and scarves out of her home and using her online shop and local events to promote and sell her handmade goods.

“[I] began attending local markets to sell work and was quite impressed with the comments and encouragement from those events,” Jones says. She says the response sparked her initiative to become a self-sufficient business owner and maker on the Avenue. Jones worked with the Live Downtown organization in Grand Rapids to find the live/work space in which she and her husband now reside.

Dime & Regal opened its doors on January 29, celebrating the business with a ribbon cutting ceremony featuring snacks, beverages and a celebration led by Mayor Rosalynn Bliss showcasing her store’s clean, sophisticated and modern feel. The live/work spaces on the Avenue have enabled local and traveling artists to feature their work in their own storefront while still having the comfort of creating their work at home.

Another strong women-owned and operated business just up the block from Dime & Regal is Second Dance Formal Consignment at 321 S.Division. Second Dance is run by Stephanie Howard and is unlike any other consignment shop as she allows women to give their formal dresses another shot at a night of their dreams. She came up with the idea out of need to resell her own prom dresses and wanted other women to have the same opportunity. Her formal-wear ranges from bridal, bridesmaid, special occasion and more. Second Dance moved from Leonard Street to the Avenue in August of 2015, and she is happy to be a part of the Avenue for the Arts community.

“[I love] being in control of my own business which started from the money in my pocket,“ says Howard. “It was a big leap but I’m proud to be making a difference in the community.”

Just down the block from Second Dance Formal Consignment is another fresh addition to the Avenue: the innovative used bookstore, Bombadil Books at 315 S.Division, ran by Danielle Alexander and Tim Albon. Bombadil Books opened its doors to the Heartside community this fall and not only has a variety of books and zines from local creatives, but also hosts readings, open writing nights and small pop-up shops featuring work by local artists. Bombadil enables its visitors to get fully engaged with other community members, writers, book enthusiasts and artists through their non-traditional approach.

While most bookstores simply just sell their books, Alexander and Albon both live and work on the Avenue which enables them to get creative with their approach without traveling far to do it.

“[We] love being a part of a small, grassroots movement that's inspiring neighborhood change through art and small business interaction and involvement," they explain. "The Avenue is a family of business owners and artists, supporting and celebrating one another, and we're really grateful to be a part of that.”

While these women-run creative spaces have daily hours, several will also be hosting special events during Avenue for the Arts First Friday event this week. Featured businesses Bombadil Books and Dime & Regal will both be open and hosting unique events for community members to take part in. Bombadil Books will be hosting a Valentine’s pop-up shop featuring the Daily Robot Shop creating personalized cards for loved ones, friends and family. Aside from hosting the pop-up shop, Bombadil will also be offering a buy one/get one sale on each book in the store fulfilling every book enthusiasts dream.

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