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YPEROPTIK (1134 Wealthy St. SE, GR) is a new eyewear boutique that opened next to

Wealthy Theatre in Grand Rapids last month. Owner Rob Conens and son Christopher opened HyperOptik as the urban and ca- sual incarnation of Cascade Optical, which is West Michigan’s premier source of Japanese and European eyewear. Located on a bustling

mega labs used by big box stores. Prices are slightly more affordable than Cascade Optical, befitting the Bohemian neighborhood. “We were drawn to this neighborhood by our more artistic clientele, and our prices reflect what they can afford,” Christopher said. The space will also serve as a photography studio for Rob, who shoots customer portraits for Cascade and HyperOptik’s ad campaigns. Not only are they excited to be part of the renaissance of the Uptown shopping district, they are


stretch of Wealthy Street, the 1,200-square-foot storefront features brick walls, brightly colored furniture and friendly opticians. But the focus is on the racks of smart and stylish eyeglass frames. You will find fun, fierce and funky brands like Theo, ic! Berlin, Anne et Valentin, Cutler & Gross, Tart Optical, Booth & Bruce, FriezeFrames and L.A. Eyeworks. In the back you can see the

shop’s open-air optical lab. The professional lab technicians can provide a more accurate and com- fortable fit than the factory-like


proud that Rob’s father Bernard – immigrated from the Netherlands

– opened his first optical shop just across the street in the mid 1960s.

Head downtown and you will find the newly opened GRAND RIVER CIGAR (131 S. Division). Replacing a dysfunctional photocopy shop, it is just what you would picture when thinking about a cigar lounge. Think wood floors, brown leather sofas and chairs, sterling silver cigar cases and a 186-square-foot walk in humidor. Built out of Spanish cedar, the hu-

This month, I am excited to launch a new column called The Free Market. While I will miss hanging out in Grand Haven and Battle Creek, I am excited to talk about the new and exciting things happening in the businesses and nonprofits in West Michigan.

midor has its own temperature and humidity control system that can keep cigars fresh indefinitely. The shelves are stocked with yummy cigars like the CAO MX2, Padron 1962 Anniversary and the Arturo Fuente OpusX. Prices range from $5 to $70 a piece. Co-owners Robin Day, Charles Rossi and Tina Day decided to open the shop after Governor Granholm signed the smoking ban. “It was impossible to enjoy a fine cigar in public anymore,” Charles said. Having become expert in the new smoking regulations and purchasing the necessary exemptions, along with two massive HEPA filters, they were able to open the lounge. If things go well, they hope to get a liquor license in a couple years.

Located on Monroe Center, MODIV (40 Monroe Center) is a retail experiment. This micro mega mall, or pop-up shop on steroids, takes up about 8,500 square feet of the Peck Building where the sad sack Little Bohemia used to hustle its dusty beads. Rockford Construction completely gutted the space and thankfully fumigated the patchouli scent and paranoia. Now you will find nearly a dozen smaller retailers offering a range of cool and stylish clothing, gifts, antiques and food. “We wanted to provide a fun shopping experience down- town,” said Mike Mraz, vice president of retail development for Rockford Construction.

Wolverine Company Store at MoDiv

MoDiv includes the Wolverine

Company Store that would look at home in SoHo with its to-die- for 1000 Mile Collection of boots and shoes and brick walls. Vue Design offers gorgeous bridal wear, Chai Boutique has an eclectic mix of handcrafted jewelry and vintage furniture, and the Kitchen Sinc Store sells fresh and healthy groceries to urban workers and homesteaders. Kitchen Sinc also has a fully licensed professional kitchen that can be rented by food entrepreneurs. Look for a new showroom by Interphase Interiors, the exclusive Haworth dealer in Grand Rapids, and Eastern Floral is expected to open a cash-and-carry

Mitten Made Boutique

European flower market in the space. When you don’t want to go out, try shopping at the MITTEN MADE BOUTIQUE (mittenmadeboutique. com). This online store was created by Kerri Wischmeyer to sell unique clothing, jewelry and gifts made by Michigan artists. While shopping on the Internet can be a freak show, Kerri does a great job selecting the best items. You will find prints by Rick Beerhorst, colorful owl-themed dresses for your little fashionista and trendy fabric zipper bracelets that will look perfect at the next dance party. Only 27 years old, Kerri is a natural entrepreneur who is follow- ing in the footsteps of her father and brothers. “Besides my family, I was really motivated by this city to launch the site. I love the culture and the pride in shopping local that exists here,” she said. n

Have some exciting news about your business or nonprofit? Send it to stevende-


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