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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

Clawson’s American Flag and Banner Celebrates 101 Years

Clawson’s American Flag and Banner Celebrates 101 Years

Jane Miles of Clawson’s American Flag and Banner shakes her head and laughs as she recounts how, in 1978, she came to own the long-standing business.

Jane Miles, Owner – American Flag and Banner

“Yes, we’ve been around for 101 years, though I haven’t been here all that time,” she quips.

“It was time, after college graduation, a B.F.A., and unrelated jobs, for me to find work in my artistic field. I didn’t want to teach, so I was considering other outlets and saw an ad for a ‘sew-er’ for American Flag and Banner, located in Detroit, and owned by  Robert Erdman.”

“During the employment interview, which was the weirdest of my life, Mr. Erdman asked me several personal and what I thought to be bizarre and, maybe, inappropriate questions: ‘Did I want to start a family? If so, when? How much education did my husband have? How much money did he make?’”

“I was offered the job on a Friday afternoon and thought about it all weekend, but decided not to take it.”

“When I called Mr. Erdman on Monday morning with my decision, he said, ‘that’s too bad … I was thinking you and your husband might like to buy the business.’ Well, my husband’s dream was always to own his own business. So soon after that interview, we did end up buying it.”

First located in Detroit on Fort Street and called Detroit Flag at that time, what is now American Flag and Banner finished, in 1923, the original flag that draped across the J.L. Hudson store on Woodward for Armistice Day and other patriotic holidays. The world’s largest flag at 3700 square feet, its stars were six inches tall, and a mile of rope was required to hang it. Its replacement, made in 1949, was seven stories high and needed 55 men to put it in place. Stars for Alaska and Hawaii were added in 1960 by six seamstresses and in 1976, after being hung a final time, the flag was donated to the Smithsonian Institution.

“There’s another flag we are known for, too,” says Miles. “During the initial year or so after we bought the business, we created the first flag for the African country of Liberia.”

Flags for every state and from every country – as well as items for schools, sports teams, and the armed forces – are available, and American Flag and Banner continues to create custom items.

“We just made the ‘Roaring Lions’ flags for the Detroit Lions,” says store manager Emily Dancy, “as well as their ‘WCF’ flags, the initials for William Clay Ford.”

“We also repair flags,” Dancy adds. “And if they can’t be repaired, we can dispose of them properly.”

Longtime customer Marc Secontine, owner of The Varsity Shop on Adams Road in Birmingham,  says, “This is such a nice business. It was great to buy the American flags, flagpoles – and flagpole lights – from them for our business.”

Currently, spread out on tables in their store’s adjacent workshop, are fabric, patterns, tools and “goop” for making a special-order sports banner for Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.

Though at one time American Flag and Banner had ten employees who did the sewing of flags, there is now one main sewing staffer, Claudia Geiger, who is also a commercial artist, the store’s design manager and Miles’ longtime friend and schoolmate.

Working in perfect unison as the team they’ve been since their days at Cass Technical High School in Detroit and as BFA students and sorority sisters at Wayne State University, Miles lays out the pattern pieces that Geiger has made, applying the sticky liquid over them that transfers the outline to the underlying fabric.

“It’s easy for people to order inexpensive, computer-printed flags online from China, for example,” Miles shares. “But our handmade flags and banners are gorgeous, hang beautifully, and they last.”

“My computer’s up here,” Geiger adds, chuckling as she points to her head. “And it seems that when we make their flags and banners, the team really does win more often!”

With a wall of storage for patterns that she has drawn as a testament to their work, Geiger recalls past projects.

“Years ago, we had a whole room full of patterns, and we made the most amazing, hand-sewn felt and appliqued flags and banners. It was art. Now, clothes are so inexpensive, and there aren’t that many people learning or wanting to sew. And fabric and patterns do cost a lot! But I meet people and ask, ‘How do you live without a sewing machine?’”

“We’ve been so fortunate with our sewing machines,” says Miles, pointing to the wall-length sewing table. “These are the original machines that came with the purchase of the business. They have old-school ball bearings. We maintain them, and repairmen are in awe of how well-made they are. And parts for them are still out there!”

Many of their other tools and supplies were also included with the business’s purchase by Jane Miles and her husband, Bill, who passed away early this year, and were brought with them when the business was moved to Clawson in 1980.

“Clawson is a great spot for us,” Miles says, “a most wonderful and patriotic town and place to be.”

The Star-Spangled Banner still waves – and has been waving for over a century – at American Flag and Banner, located in Clawson since 1980.

And in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 national tragedy, hundreds of people, in a line that circled their building, waited in the rain to purchase flags and show their patriotism.

“The people were amazing. They were patient and supportive as we made each sale – which, for those who needed flagpoles, took extra time, then, to drill the proper holes for installation,” explained Miles.

“There were no planes flying, either, so luckily Bill found an empty truck that was able to bring us products. Meanwhile, customers were buying everything we had and stripped the place of U.S.A. knickknacks – and even bought my own patriotic clothes off of me!”

“But the best thing was the sense of community as those in line became acquainted during their wait. You could hear people wishing those behind them, ‘Good luck with that wedding!’ or ‘I hope your mom recovers quickly!’ as they entered our store.”

“It’s a wholesome business. Through all of our years, even though a good flag can be a luxury item, no one has ever written us a bad check or lied about their history to receive our veterans’ discount. And that,” concludes Miles, “is just another form of patriotism.”

American Flag and Banner

28 S. Main Street
Clawson, MI  48017
248-288-3010

americanflagandbanner.net

Flipside Records: Where Retro and Nuevo Meet

Flipside Records: Where Retro and Nuevo Meet

Flipside Records in Clawson is a trip back to Hippie Detroit time, somewhat reminiscent of Plum Street, with its chartreuse walls and incense burners.

Todd Fundaro, Owner

If you came of age in the ’70s, picture the Trading Post, another long-gone Hippie haven on Woodward and 10 Mile.

For those much younger, it’s your Boomer parents’ basement, minus the parents — just the tunes and the ambiance, plus lots of new music your folks never heard of.

“You never know what you’ll see in here,” says Todd Fundaro, Flipside’s owner, who proclaims you’ll find “anything I can legally sell and make money on.”

Royal Oak’s Frank Wilder, a self-proclaimed movie freak, stands in front of the store’s “Death of Digital Sale” sign, leafing furtively through the DVDs.

“I usually stop in every couple of weeks,” Wilder says. “It takes me about 15 minutes to see if there’s anything I want.”

Another regular customer, Jim Morrissey from Clarkston, is rummaging around in the “Audiophile” section of original master recordings and says he owns a $30,000 stereo system that fills one wall of his house. He prefers LPs to CDs. “Mostly you can find things here that you can’t get anywhere else,” he says.

Today, Morrissey brought in some stereo equipment that he hopes to sell to Fundaro, who features a whole section up front with some very good deals on used models, and also new equipment such as turntables and accessories. Under $200 for a used Bang + Olufsen turntable, for example (“but the needle needs replacing and that costs $150,” the store owner explains).

Fundaro, who grew up in Ferndale, started working with his father, Frank, when he was a teenager. Frank and a partner sold coins, stamps and other collectibles in a shop at 10 Mile and Coolidge in Oak Park. Then the market fell out, and they needed something else to do. That was 1980.

“We tried used books,” Fundaro recalls, then added used records, competing with the only other place around at the time, Sam’s Jams in Ferndale. When Frank’s partner split in 1983, he and Todd moved to Clawson, putting Flipside on the must-browse Oakland County circuit ever since. Frank passed away in 2012, and Todd has carried on with a small staff and an enormous inventory. Like maybe half a million things under one roof. Nobody knows for sure.

“We sell, buy and trade here,” says Fundaro, now 55. “A lot of our super expensive vinyl we sell online. We just bought a huge bunch of Kate Bush LPs from the ‘80s and ‘90s. We bought another collection recently of 4,000 LPs and 6,000 CDs, and way back in the day, we bought a 10,000-LP collection.”

Younger kids come in and buy older LPs, music that their parents turned them onto, “but mostly they’re buying the newer stuff, which is very expensive,” Fundaro says. “We used to buy new records when we were young for $8.99. Now they buy three new albums and it’s $70 to $100.”

But LPs are just some of the inventory here.

Look up, and a pair of silver Led Zeppelin blimps hang above, along with other musical ephemera. Look around and there are video games and accessories, toys, posters, band-related T-shirts, head-shop stuff, 45s, books, board games and weird toys—unlikely combos of mixed heads and torsos (a monkey face on a fuzzy Mickey Mouse, for example) created by local artist Gwen Joy.

Up near the front counter of this cavernous, 3,300-square-foot outpost, find Beatles memorabilia, a roll of Trump toilet paper, a rack of Hot Wheels (a steal at $2.99 each), “Mystery Bags” with 10 CDs for $5, Indy-label artists, and new and used music in nearly every form and genre, from Ambient to Zydeco.

Well, not everything, at least not on this visit. Toward the front of the store, another regular, Denis Nobliski, is having no luck finding a copy of the “Fragile” album by Yes.

“I originally bought it in the ‘70s, says the Rochester Hills resident, who, like Morrissey, says he favors LPs over CDs, adding, “Albums just blow the CDs away.”

Flipside’s Fundaro knows that truth: Today, vinyl, which fills a large percentage of the racks in his store, is gold. LPs survived the onset of 8-tracks, tapes, CDs, MP3s and streaming, and so has Flipside, now in its 35th year. Flipside just received a plaque from the City of Clawson to commemorate the event.

And if it weren’t for the fact that Clawson’s main intersection is ripped to shreds, traffic is down to one lane and miserable, and anybody’s GPS will take them in circles to find parking near his store, on 14 Mile Rd., just east of Main, Fundaro would be celebrating.

Instead, he has to wait until at least the end of June until the mess on the streets clears out and sales can get back to normal.

“We’re down 40 percent since the construction began (in April), says Fundaro. “Everyone around here has the same problem.”

But the good news: When construction’s over, summer will be in full swing, Clawson’s streets will be beautiful, and Flipside can break out some cake and candles. Let the summer begin.

 

Flipside Records
41 E. 14 Mile Road
Clawson, Michigan 48317
248-585-4090

shopflipsiderecords.com
email: flipside41@sbcglocal.net
(Hint: Park in the rear of the store or in the nearby Ace Hardware lot.)