The Rapidian

Lee & Birch moving from downtown location to East Hills neighborhood

Downtown fashion boutique Lee & Birch is closing its downtown doors and moving uptown to occupy the historic Ron's Car Wash building.
Lee & Birch signage in current downtown store

Lee & Birch signage in current downtown store /Eric Tank

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Location and hours

759 Wealthy St. SE

Monday - Friday (11am - 7pm) 

Saturday (11am - 6pm)

Sunday (Closed)


The old Ron's Car Wash building on the NW corner of Eastern and Wealthy

The old Ron's Car Wash building on the NW corner of Eastern and Wealthy /Eric Tank

/Eric Tank

Lee & Birch, the popular downtown modern fashion boutique, is closing its doors on May 15. The close comes during a transition in the seven year history of the the company. But the move is not for lack of business. Hardly the case- Lee & Birch continues to operate strong. Enough so that they are able to relocate to an uptown neighborhood that's more reflective of their clientele. 

"The main reason we're moving is to be closer to our customer base," says Nikki Gillette, owner. "We loved downtown and having the business community supporting us, but we found through research that our customers are closer to the Wealthy Street location."

The boutique women's ware shop has dotted the downtown landscape on the corner of Fulton and Ionia for nearly three years. But the company has operated for longer than that, first opening shop in Muskegon seven years ago. They stayed there for four years before moving to  Grand Haven in 2012 where they currently carry both women's and men's clothing lines. 

The new Grand Rapids location will be in an historic building that has been there since the 1930's when it was a service station. Ron Nelson, who operated his hand car wash there from the mid eighties until 2009 popularized the location, sparking a revitalization on that stretch of Wealthy at a time when the neighborhood was in dire need of cleaning up.

Lee & Birch's transition will make for some initial downsizing, going from the downtown location at approximately 2,000 square feet to the new space measuring in at about 1,100-1,200 usable square footage. However, Gillette says there is plenty of room to expand by utilizing the outdoor space and- in the future- possibly adding on to the west end of the building. 

Some renovations and restorations are being made to the East Hills building. The garage door facing Eastern Avenue will be replaced with a glass panel roller, allowing for outdoor clothing racks and space to be utilized during the warmer months. New double front doors will be installed inside the patio area where the current knee-high partition will be knocked out. This will allow expansion of the semicircular patio area covered with an awning, reflecting the building's original design. The location will also provide five parking spaces within the lot. 

Lee & Birch routinely hosts fashion and trunk shows up to three times a year at both locations. The ticketed events feature runway shows and discounted prices on items. Jeffery Richard Salon, another popular East Hills locale, does the hair and makeup for the shows.

Gillette expresses her enthusiasm about getting to know her new neighbors and the possibilities for collaborative community efforts. 

"We do a lot of events and we would love to get some of the other businesses involved in the events that we do," says Gillette. 

She comments on the importance of a business communicating with the local neighborhood organization such as the East Hills Council of Neighbors. 

"It helps get the word out for us. It helps us learn how things work within the community. Even just figuring out what events are coming up so we can plan things around it," says Gillette. "We're really excited to move there!"

Gillette hopes to open the new location on or about June 1. Just look for the freshly painted Payne's grey tile and white signage across the top that will accentuate the new East Hills establishment. 

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