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Clawson’s Three Cats Cafe and The Show: Dine, Shop, Repeat, Drink!

Clawson’s Three Cats Cafe and The Show: Dine, Shop, Repeat, Drink!

Clawson’s Three Cats Cafe and The Show:
Dine, Shop, Repeat, Drink!

14

NOVEMBER 2018

BY PATTY LANOUE STEARNS

LBN Community Series
Clawson

If you’re old enough to remember downtown Detroit’s beloved J.L. Hudson’s store, it was a magical oasis, especially around the holidays. You’d walk inside, dazzled by the displays, shop for gifts until your feet hurt, then head up the escalator to the cafe in the mezzanine for a quick repast of soup, salad, maybe a hotdog or a pastry. Then you’d get back to shopping.

MARY LIZ CURTIN

CO-OWNER
THREE CATS CAFE, THE SHOW AND LEON & LULU

It’s the same kind of scene and vibe at Three Cats Cafe and The Show in Clawson. Housed in what was the old Clawson Theater, the two-year-old coffee house/cafe/gift shop is the latest addition to the 15,000-square-foot Leon & Lulu campus (formerly the Ambassador Roller Rink) next door, which sells everything from gag toys to high-end clothing and home furnishings. Both buildings were built in 1941 and went through extensive reconstruction. The new space adds 8,500 square feet.

Through brilliant marketing, merchandising, hard work and heaps of hilarity, owners Mary Liz Curtin and her husband Stephen Scannell have created a department-store mecca that feeds all senses, attracts a huge following and has reaped many business awards.

“Our entire emphasis is on customer enjoyment,” says Curtin.

Before you walk through Three Cats’ front door on Main St., beneath the restored Clawson Theater marquee, a mechanical lady in the ticket window calls out to welcome you. Inside, there’s a gleaming Art Deco bistro with a black-and-white motif, an ever-changing menu of delicious pastries, soups and salads created by Chef Yvonne Belletini, and friendly folks behind the counter to make sure the coffee’s always fresh.

Barista Jay Gomez (photo, next to the menu blackboard) says the top-selling coffee is Cafe Meow, with honey, cinnamon and milk. Three Cats also features a full bar, great for apres-shopping socializing, and a screen that plays old black-and-white movies continuously. You can rent the space for events, and you can even rent the marquee and add someone’s name for a totally cool celebration.

Ray Opezzo from Royal Oak is a Three Cats regular. “I love the coffee here,” he says, noting that he just finished a delicious chicken salad-filled croissant with potato salad on the side. He also recommends the steel-cut oatmeal with berries for breakfast.

“It has atmosphere — it’s just different than other stores — you walk out with a smile on your face…”

Sharon Martin, who lives in Clawson, comes to Three Cats every day, and has even claimed her own table inside The Show, where you have your choice of seating, either on the former movie theater stage or on the lower floor, which she prefers, along with her daily cappuccino.

“Mary Liz moves the merchandise around here all the time, so it’s always a different experience,” Matin says, adding: “I love the warmth of the people who work here.” Last year Martin threw her 65th birthday party here (“I invited both my ex-husbands,” she laughs) and Three Cats did the catering. Food is served on an elegant collection of vintage china plates like Grandma used to do.

“It has atmosphere — it’s just different than other stores — you walk out with a smile on your face,” says Marilyn Tomala of Royal Oak. She bought the pants she’s wearing at Leon & Lulu’s next door and is now in The Show looking for Christmas gifts. “Everyone’s shopping here,” she says, motioning to the crowd of customers around her as she flips through a table of shiny ornaments and necklaces with light-up bulbs.

Many gifts you’ll find at The Show, directly behind the cafe and with an entrance off the side parking lot on Main, are Michigan-centric, with mitten-shaped cutting boards, puzzles, tea and dishtowels and anything else you can think of that would look good emblazoned with the shape of our state. Other finds are Detroit’s famous Pewabic tiles and vases and old Detroit prints and signs, plus unique furniture and custom framing.

Curtin has also stocked the aisles with a mondo collection of irreverent greeting cards that beg you to read their messages and laugh and share the hilarious sentiments with other shoppers. And then buy them for the laughs, which is just one reason why customers like Tomala, Martin and Opezzo always leave with smiles on their faces.

Three Cats Cafe and The Show
Lunch served 11-3 daily
116 West 14 Mile Road
Clawson 48017
248-288-4858
threecatscafe.com
leonandlulu.com

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Mid-Century Modern, Present-Day Cool

Mid-Century Modern, Present-Day Cool

Mid-Century Modern, Present-Day Cool

25

OCTOBER 2018
BY REBECCA CALAPPI

LBN Community Series
Clawson

The market for mid-century modern designs is on fire and Modmart Detroit is the epicenter for all things Bertoia, Eames and Wegner.

Catering to a devout following of mid-century modernism, Modmart Detroit offers carefully presented furniture, home décor and even furniture refinishing.

BRIAN LAUNDROCHE, LOREN WEINER & DAN LAUNDROCHE

CO-OWNERS OF MODMART DETROIT

“We also take a lot of pride in knowing we’re rescuing furniture that is going extinct and bringing it back to life,” said co-owner Loren Weiner. “People do want to display them in their nice houses because it’s the pieces they want. There’s also an aspect that these pieces are so highly collectible. They want people to look at their furniture and say, ‘Oh yeah that’s original.’”

The Clawson store wasn’t always devoted to mid-century modern. Decades ago, it was a machine shop, which was converted into a furniture refinishing business by brothers Brian and Dan Laundroche.

The brothers worked in the building for 15 years, adding an antique storefront. However, it attracted more garage sale-type business, instead of clientele who want to make major home purchases.

That’s when the Laundroches met Weiner.

Wiener is an artist and interior designer. She would bring pieces to the Laundroches to refinish for her clients.

“It used to be Affordable Solution resale shop, but the main business was always the finishing,” said Brian Laundroche. “Loren suggested we go to mid-century modern and here we are. It just happened to work out the two go hand in hand. We’ve progressed a lot.”

Now, the three are co-owners of ModMart Detroit.

The store is arranged in small vignettes, much how furniture would be in a home. Couches and chairs are matched with end tables, lamps, chairs and chandeliers. Vases, candlesticks, bar ware and area rugs complete the look for shoppers, making it easy to imagine each piece in their home.

“When customers are leaving the store happy, that’s a good feeling,” said Brian Laundroche.

Sidney Rausch is a nurse from Royal Oak. She wandered into ModMart Detroit looking for a couch.

“I just love the style of this place, I love all the items they have for sale. I haven’t found a place like it that sells this style of furniture. Especially if you have your heart set on something, I feel like you’d find it here,” Rausch said. “It’s a call back to a different era and we’re still honoring it. So much has changed, but these have a very classy, elegant look to them.”

From tulip tables and square-backed couches to vintage bar sets and tangerine-colored everything, mid-century modern design runs in the Laundroche family. The brothers are relatives of Harry Bertoia, who’s signature wire chairs are familiar to just about anyone who remembers the 60s and 70s, even if the name doesn’t ring a bell.

“We’ve just always been hands on. We were the kids painting bikes hanging in the garage,” said Brian Laundroche, whose mother is Bertoia’s niece. “I’ve been finishing my whole life. We were painting something or doing something since we were 10 years old.”

Modmart Detroit offers consignment, furniture sales, refinishing and even design consultation. “We’re very passionate about rescuing the furniture. It’s very important for people to know they can consign furniture. It’s good for them to give us a call. There could be hidden treasures out there,” said Brian Laundroche. “On the other hand, there’s a lot of people into this mid-century modern, where they think their item is worth more than it really is worth.”

Weiner continued, “A lot of times people don’t realize their stuff has value. Rather than just donating it, you could sell it and donate the money.”

According to Weiner, many people come in looking for work by Danish designers. “Our store mainly focuses on the 50s and 60s and our clients are looking specifically for Danish Modern,” she said. “I learn about a new designer all the time, then I obsess. I’m really lucky where this is my passion and hobby. I’m a purist.”

Weiner and Laundroche also encourage people to take pictures of their treasures and email them to modmartdetroit@gmail.com to find out if there’s any interest. However, the shop only considers items that are specifically from the mid-century era and it has to be modern design.

 

In the refinishing area, the brothers refinish wood and metal items and even create their own lighting fixtures, which can be custom made to order.

“When you’re refinishing a piece, you have to honor the design of it, otherwise it loses its value,” said Brian Laundroche. “I have to match the application and color and in some cases, it can be tricky.”

Mostly, the Modmart Detroit team aims to make customers happy. Customers on the hunt for a certain piece can work with Weiner to have it sourced, and families cleaning out grandma’s attic can call and one of the Modmart owners will go to the house and determine anything of value.

“When customers are leaving the store happy, that’s a good feeling,” said Brian Laundroche.

932 West 14 Mile
Clawson, Michigan 48017
(248) 757-4663
modmartdetroit.com

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Maple Lane Florist in Clawson: Serving Customers for Five Generations

Maple Lane Florist in Clawson: Serving Customers for Five Generations

Maple Lane Florist
in Clawson:
Serving Customers for
Five Generations
10
OCTOBER 2018
BY HONEY MURRAY
LBN Community Series
Clawson
Anna Frost, from Clawson, was sending flowers to a funeral home. Her oldest friend’s mother had passed away at the age of 96 after a brief illness.
“I was sad for my friend, of course, but I wanted a flower arrangement that wasn’t ‘funeral-ish,’” Anna says. “I called Maple Lane Florist on Crooks Road in Clawson and was helped by a man that I believe was the owner’s son.”

“He was sympathetic and kind, and he assured me that he had the flowers available to make just the kind of uplifting and very pretty arrangement I was thinking of – with lots of fresh, white, feminine blossoms — in my price range, and able to be delivered later that day.”

NATALIE WATKINS

OWNER OF MAPLE LANE FLORIST IN CLAWSON
“When I arrived at the funeral home,” Anna recalls, “the family members came running up to me and said, ‘We knew those flowers were from you as soon as they arrived! They are so lovely!’”

Owner Natalie Watkins, who started working in her family’s shop over 50 years ago at the age of nine, says, “We actually listen to everyone and try to get exactly what they want…And usually, we get it just right!”

She adds, “After all, we’ve been in business so long that we have a deep understanding of flowers – and people.”

Though Maple Lane Florist was officially opened in 1948 by Natalie’s grandparents, John and Grace Ann Schultz, the Schultzes actually began the business out of the Troy home they moved to from Highland Park in 1936.

“I had a customer come in,” shares Natalie, “who wanted flowers for a 75th anniversary. She said that my grandparents had done the wedding flowers out of their house all those years ago!”

 

Her grandparents built onto the house with greenhouses and a flower shop. They also had a roadside stand for selling “mums, tomatoes – anything they could grow.”

“And now,” Natalie beams, “there is a fifth generation of family here.”

“Growing up, my mom would bring home work for the five of us kids to do: making bows, assembling corsages…All five of my kids (and most of their spouses) have also been brought up in the business.”

“Our customers love and trust us,” Natalie smiles. “They’ve been with us for years, and many actually worked with us when they were teens!”.”
“My granddaughter Natalie, who is twelve, is one of my best employees! She loves to wait on customers and make mixed bouquets. Since she’s been four years old, she’s counted out the cash drawer every time she works, making sure we have enough singles and change.”

Grandchildren Jordan, Alyssa, Luca, Meadow, and Violet also often work on weekends and in the summer, cleaning flowers and watering plants.

“It’s so great for all the kids to work here. They learn how to count and work with cash, they enjoy people, and they are excited and happy to make money – though they are required to save half of what they earn in their bank accounts.”

Natalie recounts ways in which the business has changed over time.

“In the past, Mother’s Day and Easter were the biggest holidays. But, over the years, grocery stores – and even hardware store chains – began mass-selling of flowers and plants.”

“My grandfather was appalled,” Natalie says. “But the good part is, it’s kept flowers at the forefront. A bad part is, customers are not always getting quality and properly cared-for flowers that way.”

“Like food, our flowers are a perishable commodity and are always kept in perfect temperature and conditions. If a customer says they don’t want roses because they only last a couple of days, I’m so happy to tell them that ours will last at least a week and sometimes ten days with just a little at-home care.”

“And,” she continues, “if you have a small floral arrangement and leave it in the fridge or in a cool room while you’re at work and take it back out when you get home, you can enjoy it for many extra days!”

Maple Lane Florist is increasingly delivering weekly arrangements, as well as other floral gifts, to corporate customers and other businesses.

“When they receive their standing order for their lobby or front desk, the office workers say, ‘Yay!! Our flowers are here!’” Natalie says. “It’s like they are getting their own gift.”

“They love it,” adds driver and clerk Leigh Liotta. “We bring back the old flowers, and they love the new ones. Everyone loves receiving flowers!”

General manager Blake Bergeson, Natalie’s son-in-law, also enjoys arranging holiday decorating of all types and occasions for homes and businesses.

“Especially the weekend of Thanksgiving,” he says, “we are putting up lights and decorations that homeowners and businesses either own or have us purchase for them. We’ve done entire blocks of storefronts as well as a single bannister a client needed decorated for a house party.”

“Our customers love and trust us,” Natalie smiles. “They’ve been with us for years, and many actually worked with us when they were teens!”

“They know our names; they come in, put money on the counter and say, ‘Give me my usual.’ When they move away, they still call to have us send flowers to their mom or grandmother…or to send holiday and thank-you gifts like amaryllis, poinsettias, and centerpieces.”

“They’ve stayed with us through all these years. And…it gets better every year!”

1522 N. Crooks Rd.
Clawson, MI  48017
248-280-5949
maplelaneflowers.com
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The Salt & Sugar Co. has a Newly Opened Restaurant in Clawson, a Food Truck and Catering Services

The Salt & Sugar Co. has a Newly Opened Restaurant in Clawson, a Food Truck and Catering Services

The Salt & Sugar Co. Has a Newly Opened Restaurant in Clawson, a Food Truck and Catering Services

24

SEPTEMBER 2018

BY REBECCA CALAPPI

LBN Community Series
Clawson

For Alisha and Jesse Nemeth, the Salt & Sugar Co. is a way to balance careers, faith and family.

“Our goals are to have a healthy family life and people don’t always get that,” said Alisha Nemeth, 36. “The goal for us is to prioritize our personal lifestyle and the business is there to support that. It’s about our family and our faith. This is a totally family-friendly environment. That’s what we’re trying to bring in for our customers.”

Before the Salt & Sugar Co. came to be, the Nemeths had a catering and private chef business in addition to Jesse, now 34, working as executive chef at Morton’s in Troy. But after putting in 80 hours a week, starting a family and having a side business, the couple wanted a better quality of life.

JESSE AND ALISHA NEMETH

OWNERS OF THE SALT & SUGAR CO.

They started the Salt & Sugar Co. out of a shared commissary kitchen in Southfield.

“You don’t have a lot of start-up costs because you pay by the hour,” said Alisha Nemeth. “We were there not even a year, because we were doing farmers markets and the market manager there really supported our mission, she invited us to use the city kitchen. We were there barely a year. It really gave us the start we needed.”

Now, the Salt & Sugar Co. has a newly opened restaurant with patio in Clawson in addition to a food truck and catering services.

“We wanted to be in a space that was ours and not relocate every year,” said Alisha Nemeth.

Finding the building they just opened as a restaurant was a total accident. Alisha Nemeth happened upon it, and luckily, it’s just a mile and a half from their Troy home. They love the quaintness of downtown Clawson, so the new location is a perfect fit.

After giving the building a total facelift, including painting the exterior cement wall, the Salt & Sugar Co. opened this summer.

“Not only was the food amazing, but also the pre-planning was a breeze. Everybody I talked to was amazed. They were wide-eyed, ‘Oh my goodness was that good.’”

“We’re an organic, natural food business. Our main priority is organic food. Unlike most restaurants, nearly 75 percent of our food is organic,” said Alisha Nemeth. “We don’t compromise. It’s always something we’d feed our family. If it’s not something we can make that way, we won’t make it.”

Douglas Shaible of Grosse Pointe Woods is a client of the Salt & Sugar Co. Alisha Nemeth is an acquaintance of his, and after hearing she and her husband started a business, he gave her a call when he needed a funeral catered.

“Instead of inviting everybody to a lunch in a restaurant, we just had the food brought to the location. They brought the food in prepped and ready to go,” said Shaible. “We had shrimp, asparagus wraps, roast beef and barbecue-sauced meatballs. There were a couple other plates such as cheese and fruit and crostini that they also supplied.”

Shaible and the 225 funeral guests were blown away by the food.

“It was tremendous,” said Shaible. “Not only was the food amazing, but also the pre-planning was a breeze. Everybody I talked to was amazed. They were wide-eyed, ‘Oh my goodness was that good.’”

The restaurant features a cozy eating area with order-at-the-counter casualness. “The menu took shape because we’d go to farmers markets and be hungry, we tried to create a menu for people who want coffee, lunch and a dessert,” said Alisha Nemeth.

Jesse Nemeth is famous for his salad dressings, so the salad options are a popular item on the menu. The orzo, chickpea, marinated artichoke, tomato and feta salad tossed with the lemon basil dressing is a staple. The pulled pork has been on the menu since day one. The spinach and artichoke chicken nacho have a huge fan base, while the double chocolate cold brew coffee retains its best-seller spot.

“That’s the thing with this storefront. We can offer all our favorites,” said Alisha Nemeth. “We’re trying to attract moms who want to eat this way and go out for lunch.”

Popping by the Salt & Sugar Co. for a drink is also rewarding. From locally roasted coffee and teas to organic soda, the Nemeths take great pride in what they offer customers.

“We want to make sure we have the best drink menu. All of the stuff on our menu except two items are local,” said Alisha Nemeth. “Our coffee is Mason Jar Coffee Co. and Thumb Roast Coffee. They made us our own house blend. All of them are clean organic, but not certified. Even our shirts are printed by a local Clawson company. We’re trying to use local as much as we can because we know how difficult it is to have a small local business.”

139 W 14 Mile Road
Clawson, Michigan 48017
www.thesaltsugar.co

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The Yarn Stop: “Winding Up” Two Years of Commerce, Classes, Community Engagement – and Fun

The Yarn Stop: “Winding Up” Two Years of Commerce, Classes, Community Engagement – and Fun

Troy resident Susan Hendrie is knitting a sweater for a new baby in her family. A soft, cozy rainbow of muted reds, blues, and yellows, the project is almost completed.

“I needed a little help finishing it,” Hendrie says, “so I came here to a daily “Help Me” session at The Yarn Stop in Clawson, where I can have time, one-on-one, with a yarn project instructor.”

And as teacher Kelly Sprague and Hendrie work together at the large oak table in the front of the store in the picture-window’s pleasant, natural light, they chat, laugh and banter with owner Sam Gill, who is putting away a new shipment of fall yarns.

“This is a wonderful store!” Hendrie exclaims. “You feel very comfortable. Some yarn stores can be stuffy, with an air. It’s open and welcoming. You learn a lot from other knitters, too.”

“The instructors here are fabulous. So is the owner,” teases Hendrie, nodding in Gill’s direction. “These teachers can get you out of anything! You don’t need to be afraid. I come to The Yarn Stop so often that my phone created an icon, telling me how many minutes it will take me to get here,” she laughs.

“Drop-in ‘Help Me’ sessions are available every afternoon from 3-5 p.m. No appointment is necessary. The cost is six dollars for one hour, and we don’t care if your yarn was purchased here or not,” says Gill, who learned how to knit as a teen.

“I’d traveled to Belgium as part of ‘Up with People,’” Gill shares, “and my ‘host mom’ taught me to knit. I set it aside during college, but I picked it back up again about eighteen years ago – and now I’m here, running the most fun business I could imagine.”

A longtime, former administrative assistant with a large accounting firm, Gill wanted a change of career.

“I was fed up with the corporate world,” he says. “I heard about this store (formerly PK Yarnover) coming up for sale and came and talked to them about it. Six weeks later, my partner — Mike Brunck – and I owned it.”

“We took a very big leap off a very tall cliff,” Gill chuckles, “and after two years, we are doing remarkably well. In fact, we will now be open on Mondays, starting September 10. We hadn’t projected that for another year!”

He adds, “I’m very happy that we saved this store from closing. It would’ve been the fourth or fifth area yarn store to close within eighteen months.”

The Yarn Stop will be celebrating their two-year anniversary on Saturday, September 8, with contests, charity events, sales – and more.

“During the day,” says Gill, “We will have knitting and crocheting for charity on the sidewalk. We are having a sale, with double points on our loyalty program, and door prizes galore.”

There will also be ten-minute demonstrations including: how to wear a shawl, crafting for charity, and knitting German short rows (used for shaping sweater shoulders, for example).

“We will also have our famous dance breaks,” Gill smiles, “including ‘chair dancing.’”

“The business is serious to me, but the yarn is not,” says Gill. “Who can come into this store and not smile when they see all the colors and textures of yarn everywhere?”

“We laugh a lot and have community within the store. And, we’re actually helping our customers ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s by sharing an activity with a ‘hand-to-brain’ connection.”

There is plenty of published information about the health benefits of yarn crafts. In an article in Neurology, NYU professor Dr. James Galvin reported that cognitive impairment may be modifiable with activities that are sociable and…involve learning new tasks and skills – “like those we happily engage in here, every day,” exclaims Gill.

“We welcome people to enjoy our store and the yarn,” Gill says. “We have 100 percent wools and so many sumptuous blends: cashmere, llama, silk, linen, hemp, cotton. You can’t help but touch them, though we do request that you keep them away from your face.”

Though many of the yarns are blended with acrylic, The Yarn Stop does not carry yarns that are purely acrylic, and yarns are not sold on their website.

“The true colors and marvelous textures would never come through online,” explains Gill.

Their website does list the many classes for knitting and crocheting as well as daily activities that range from open, social knit or crochet and the “Help Me!” sessions to details about ongoing, in-store charity gatherings including  Mittens for Detroit’s “Smitten with Mittens” design contest (ending September 22, 2018) and Knit Michigan (knitmichigan.org), which provides chemo caps, blankets for hospitalized children, knitted octopus animals for neonatal-care babies (the babies pull on the tentacles instead of their intravenous tubing), and cotton “knitted knockers” for women who’ve had mastectomies.

“I’m proud of the charity that our customers engage in and that we are a shop that keeps our class size small: only six people,” says Gill, who especially enjoys knitting socks, shawls, and hats. “And it was quite an honor for us to win Clawson’s highest award, ‘Putting Clawson on the Map,’ as well as WDIV’s ‘Best of Craft Stores,’ which we also just won.”

“But mostly,” Gill concludes, “we’re very glad to be able to provide a place for community – and fun.”

The Yarn Stop
25 S. Main Street
Clawson, MI  48017
248-808-6630
theyarnstop.com

Troy resident Susan Hendrie is knitting a sweater for a new baby in her family. A soft, cozy rainbow of muted reds, blues, and yellows, the project is almost completed.

“I needed a little help finishing it,” Hendrie says, “so I came here to a daily “Help Me” session at The Yarn Stop in Clawson, where I can have time, one-on-one, with a yarn project instructor.”

And as teacher Kelly Sprague and Hendrie work together at the large oak table in the front of the store in the picture-window’s pleasant, natural light, they chat, laugh and banter with owner Sam Gill, who is putting away a new shipment of fall yarns.

“This is a wonderful store!” Hendrie exclaims. “You feel very comfortable. Some yarn stores can be stuffy, with an air. It’s open and welcoming. You learn a lot from other knitters, too.”

“The instructors here are fabulous. So is the owner,” teases Hendrie, nodding in Gill’s direction. “These teachers can get you out of anything! You don’t need to be afraid. I come to The Yarn Stop so often that my phone created an icon, telling me how many minutes it will take me to get here,” she laughs.

“Drop-in ‘Help Me’ sessions are available every afternoon from 3-5 p.m. No appointment is necessary. The cost is six dollars for one hour, and we don’t care if your yarn was purchased here or not,” says Gill, who learned how to knit as a teen.

“I’d traveled to Belgium as part of ‘Up with People,’” Gill shares, “and my ‘host mom’ taught me to knit. I set it aside during college, but I picked it back up again about eighteen years ago – and now I’m here, running the most fun business I could imagine.”

A longtime, former administrative assistant with a large accounting firm, Gill wanted a change of career.

“I was fed up with the corporate world,” he says. “I heard about this store (formerly PK Yarnover) coming up for sale and came and talked to them about it. Six weeks later, my partner — Mike Brunck – and I owned it.”

“We took a very big leap off a very tall cliff,” Gill chuckles, “and after two years, we are doing remarkably well. In fact, we will now be open on Mondays, starting September 10. We hadn’t projected that for another year!”

He adds, “I’m very happy that we saved this store from closing. It would’ve been the fourth or fifth area yarn store to close within eighteen months.”

The Yarn Stop will be celebrating their two-year anniversary on Saturday, September 8, with contests, charity events, sales – and more.

“During the day,” says Gill, “We will have knitting and crocheting for charity on the sidewalk. We are having a sale, with double points on our loyalty program, and door prizes galore.”

There will also be ten-minute demonstrations including: how to wear a shawl, crafting for charity, and knitting German short rows (used for shaping sweater shoulders, for example).

“We will also have our famous dance breaks,” Gill smiles, “including ‘chair dancing.’”

“The business is serious to me, but the yarn is not,” says Gill. “Who can come into this store and not smile when they see all the colors and textures of yarn everywhere?”

“We laugh a lot and have community within the store. And, we’re actually helping our customers ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s by sharing an activity with a ‘hand-to-brain’ connection.”

There is plenty of published information about the health benefits of yarn crafts. In an article in Neurology, NYU professor Dr. James Galvin reported that cognitive impairment may be modifiable with activities that are sociable and…involve learning new tasks and skills – “like those we happily engage in here, every day,” exclaims Gill.

“We welcome people to enjoy our store and the yarn,” Gill says. “We have 100 percent wools and so many sumptuous blends: cashmere, llama, silk, linen, hemp, cotton. You can’t help but touch them, though we do request that you keep them away from your face.”

Though many of the yarns are blended with acrylic, The Yarn Stop does not carry yarns that are purely acrylic, and yarns are not sold on their website.

“The true colors and marvelous textures would never come through online,” explains Gill.

Their website does list the many classes for knitting and crocheting as well as daily activities that range from open, social knit or crochet and the “Help Me!” sessions to details about ongoing, in-store charity gatherings including  Mittens for Detroit’s “Smitten with Mittens” design contest (ending September 22, 2018) and Knit Michigan (knitmichigan.org), which provides chemo caps, blankets for hospitalized children, knitted octopus animals for neonatal-care babies (the babies pull on the tentacles instead of their intravenous tubing), and cotton “knitted knockers” for women who’ve had mastectomies.

“I’m proud of the charity that our customers engage in and that we are a shop that keeps our class size small: only six people,” says Gill, who especially enjoys knitting socks, shawls, and hats. “And it was quite an honor for us to win Clawson’s highest award, ‘Putting Clawson on the Map,’ as well as WDIV’s ‘Best of Craft Stores,’ which we also just won.”

“But mostly,” Gill concludes, “we’re very glad to be able to provide a place for community – and fun.”

The Yarn Stop
25 S. Main Street
Clawson, MI  48017
248-808-6630
theyarnstop.com

Rita O’Brien Design Group:
Inspirational Interiors
03
OCTOBER 2018
BY PATTY LANOUE STEARNS
LBN Community Series
Troy
It’s a jam-packed day for Rita O’Brien.
The interior designer spent the morning at her client’s house in Clarkston, overseeing a demo of the kitchen, and now they’re back at O’Brien’s office and showroom in Troy’s Michigan Design Center, selecting pieces that will go in the room. Later on, O’Brien will board a bus with a bunch of her designer pals to check out the Junior League of Detroit’s Designer Showcase at the Fisher Mansion in Detroit’s Boston-Edison neighborhood.

RITA O'BRIEN

OWNER OF RITA O’BRIEN DESIGN GROUP
Then it’s back to work on the kitchen renovation the next day with her client, Karrie DeLuca, who sings nothing but praises for O’Brien, from her ever-sunny disposition to her insightful ideas for transforming spaces.

“She did our pool house,” says DeLuca. “”We had lived in Asia and wanted a Balinese look. I met with Rita, and she was able to take what was in my head and make it happen. It was exactly as I hoped it would be.”

DeLuca loved O’Brien’s work so much that she asked O’Brien to do her kitchen. That project should be completed by Christmas.

As head of O’Brien Design Group, the designer has racked up a slew of awards, numerous magazine articles, and has earned a reputation as “The Color Whisperer” for her expertise at choosing perfect shades.

O’Brien has always had a flair for design—she recalls helping her mother rearrange things as a young girl—but she hasn’t always been an interior designer. Her first job in her hometown of Cleveland was a reservationist for United Airlines, moving up as a gate agent at the Cleveland Airport, then a manager of the airline’s Red Carpet Club, then training and development of the travel-agency industry for UA’s Chicago office, and after that, she opened her own travel-incentive company, Target Travel.

Her design philosophy: “To help the client get the look they’re after but educating them through the process so they can understand scale and color, and if they like a certain style, what can mix with it. I make suggestions and generally people follow them.”
Her transition into interior design began while she was living in Chicago. Her first client there wanted an entire home redone. “It was trial by fire,” she recalls, but luckily she had the massive Merchandise Mart at her disposal, and she availed herself of many sales reps who helped her learn the business.

Ten years ago, after moving to Michigan, she started her design business in her basement in Birmingham, then moved to a studio at Cole and Hazel in the same city. Two and a half years ago, she moved to the design center, a vast complex of showrooms for high-end home furnishings, lighting, flooring and all things interior.

“This is heaven,” she smiles. “The design center is open to the public and there is no other resource like this in the state. Everything is here for the client as well, so when the client meets me here, we tour the design center.”

O’Brien is one of five interior designers with studios at the MDC. “I don’t have any one style — it depends on my clients’ needs and their tastes. I would say I’m a chameleon. I can do contemporary, eclectic, traditional, over the top, just whatever genre my client wants, that’s what we do.” To stay on top of trends and styles, she goes to High Point, NC, twice a year to see what’s new.

Her design philosophy: “To help the client get the look they’re after but educating them through the process so they can understand scale and color, and if they like a certain style, what can mix with it. I make suggestions and generally people follow them.”

That gives O’Brien, who does loads of renovations from the studs up, a lot of joy. “It’s so rewarding to take a room and transform it completely.”

Some of her suggestions include where to place electrical outlets, where to put light bulbs, what drywall to use, where not to enlarge a space. Scale—too big or too small—is a big issue when people buy something like a sectional, coffee table or dining room set, get it home, and it looks terrible in the room.

“So many times people will say after they hire me: ‘If only I’d met you before I bought this piece,’ because it’s not to scale,” says O’Brien, who either has to work around the piece or it has to go. Her clients have told her “I’m saving money by using you.”

For new clients, she offers a complimentary 30-minute in-studio consultation, and her fees are by the hour or by the project. If you want to change colors in your home, she can schedule a two-hour visit. She also acts as the point person between the client and tradespeople for complete renovations, and has developed a fine network of people she recommends. “I work with many trades that I know are topnotch. You gravitate toward people you can trust—who have your back and you have theirs.”

It’s clear O’Brien has found her perfect niche. She not only loves her challenging work, she loves the people. “It’s a very personal job, because most of my projects are five to six months, and then you do the next room and the next one, and you get to know these people well. They develop a trust with you, and once you’ve done one room, it’s “Oh, I know you get me, you understand what I want.”
O’Brien works on eight to 12 projects at a time for a plethora of clients. Her white board in the rear of her studio reflects a busy but organized schedule. She carries unique items such as customized leather “quote” books, home furnishings and private furniture lines. Her company also represents many Detroit artists, whose lively, mostly abstract works punctuate her showroom walls. Her husband, Tom O’Brien, reps the artists, who include Tony Roko, Darcel Deneau, Claudia Hershman, Laurel Pitynski, Mark Wolak, Michael O’Reilly, Sue Zinger and others.

So does Rita O’Brien, the designer with the unflappable spirit, ever get frustrated? Not really.

“Sometimes you know if they only removed the one piece, it would be better. But you have to honor the fact that that one piece is special to them. What I find exciting is that there’s this one piece that I have to use and surround it and make it look beautiful.”

Rita O’Brien Design Group
Michigan Design Center
1700 Stutz Dr., Suite 115
Troy, MI 48084
248-326-5353
www.ritaobrien.com
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Haberman Fabrics: New Location, New Owner, Same Name, Same Stellar Store

Haberman Fabrics: New Location, New Owner, Same Name, Same Stellar Store

Patty Weir, Owner of Haberman Fabrics

Often when someone takes over an established business, the first thing he or she does is add their own signature. But not Patty Weir. She wants everyone to know that her new store in Clawson is the same rare emporium of style, substance and diaphanous decor as they loved in Royal Oak: Haberman’s.

Look around and it’s all familiar — the signage, the fixtures, the bins, the walls decked in fancy buttons, the wedding and prom areas, the sophisticated mannequins draped in the latest fabrics, the multihued bolts of silk, satin, wool and cotton that line the aisles. In the rear, the home decorating department beckons with picked-for-you-designer special-order and quick-order fabrics.

All around the store, for your comfort, are chairs and benches covered in sumptuous, fabulous fabrics, all from Haberman’s, of course.

Even if you don’t sew — as many customers don’t — the shop has a long list of pros who will do the sewing for you. If you want to learn how, Haberman’s offers classes. For those who want ready-made draperies and blinds, there’s a department for that, too.

Perhaps the most beautiful thing about the new store is its personnel: You’ll be greeted and assisted by the same loyal, talented staffers who gave metro Detroit’s only independent fabric store such a fine edge over the years. Even the phone number and web address are the same. About the only difference is the new location and building, a little smaller than the previous one, but with tons of adjacent parking.

“People like it, so why change it?” says Weir. “They just want to come in and shop.”

Willie Mae Greenwood of Shelby Township is here today, holding several of her mom’s vintage outfits that she’s hoping to update with new trim. For one of the jackets, a 1960s-era cream-colored satin, she’s found some ostrich feather banding that looks fantastic on the collar and cuffs. She holds another band of gun-metal trim against another outfit that could add a subtle but chic pop to its muted pattern of aqua, gray and cream.

“I have no idea where I’m going to put it, but I’m going to put it on, some way,” says Greenwood, a Haberman’s shopper for the past 20-some years. This is her third visit to the new store since it opened in March, and she thinks “it kind of feels the same — just in another area.”

Across the store, Huntington Woods’ Joy Reade and her daughter Frances, visiting from Berkley, CA, are oohing and ahhing the designer fabrics. They have spotted a bolt by the hip fashion label Opening Ceremony, a “designer clothing brand extra,” as they call it, and are snapping up several yards.

“Frances makes all of her clothes — everything,” says her mom. They’ve been Haberman devotees for the last quarter-century. “We bought a sewing machine at the old store for Frances in ’99. They have such unique fabrics here — always something special, and they always have good help,” Joy says, adding: “It doesn’t feel like they’ve lost much with the move.”

It was fortunate after Toby and Sam Haberman decided to retire from the store that Sam’s parents opened back in 1958, that their long-time employee, Patty Weir, wanted to take it over. Patty knew and loved the store, had worked her way up the rungs for 30 years and felt the timing was right.

With lots of advice from the Habermans, and all those store fixtures from Royal Oak, Patty and her husband, Mark Weir, found the perfect site in Clawson and bought the building. Mark and his brother, John Weir, are real estate rehabbers and built out the store’s interior, including a full upper level that is ready for suitable tenants — say, a quilt shop, knit shop, dance studio or another creative pursuit. In all, the building is 14,000 square feet, 7,000 on each level.

“I couldn’t be happier for her,” says Toby, who felt a huge responsibility to the community to find someone to carry on. “There are only a handful of places in the United States with fabrics for high-end apparel and home decorating with an enormous price range and lots of styles.”

Patty Weir doesn’t take this responsibility lightly, nor does her staff, all of whom sew themselves, and all of whom stayed with the store during the transition between mid-November, when the Royal Oak store closed, through March, when the Clawson store opened. They even helped her set up the new shop.

“It’s a very dedicated staff,” says Toby. “They love what they do — and they love Patty.”

 

 

Haberman Fabrics
1060 W 14 Mile Rd.
Clawson, MI 48017
248-541-0010
habermanfabrics.com