Melanie Williams and Nicole Duffey, lifelong best friends, are celebrating 14 years in business as co-owners of Regeneration, a resale clothing store at 23700 Woodward Ave. in Pleasant Ridge, just blocks away from Ferndale and I-696.

DESPITE A TOUGH YEAR DURING THE PANDEMIC, they are expanding the size of their store with the addition of a new space called The Annex, and looking forward to the future.

Williams and Duffey expressed deep gratitude that their store managed to survive the difficult circumstances brought about by COVID-19.

“We are appreciative that most of our customers feel safe to shop and sell clothing with us during such an uneasy time,” Duffey said.

The duo’s history as business owners goes back to 2007, when a desire for new careers led them to shift gears and open Regeneration.

“We were both in a stagnant place, job-wise and life-wise; craved a change and wanted a challenge,” Williams said. “We both adored vintage clothing and had been avid thrift store shoppers, so it made sense to try our hand at a business we loved.”

Regeneration had expanded to two stores when a second store opened in Clawson in 2011. But the Clawson store did not survive the pandemic, allowing Williams and Duffey to focus on growing their main location in Pleasant Ridge.

“Deciding to close our Clawson store wasn’t difficult, as we knew that managing both stores, especially amid a pandemic, would be too much to handle financially and emotionally,” Duffey said. “Last Summer, we rented the space next door to our main location to help manage the overflow of inventory.

“Eventually we will break down the main wall and refigure our dressing rooms. But in the meantime, The Annex houses the bulk of our accessories for men and women,” said Williams. “While the front room has a cozy boutique feel, the Annex is an intimate space that is a revolving/evolving room dedicated to local artists and sustainable products.”

LIKE MOST SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS, Williams and Duffey got creative during the pandemic and went outside of their normal methods of engaging customers, and much of their efforts to stay connected to customers focused on social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram.

“We’ve used Instagram the past few years to highlight exceptional items we buy for the store, but now we’re using Instagram to make connections. Just before we reopened in May 2020, we invited our staff to share Instagram videos of what they’d been up to during quarantine. We’ve since transitioned into hosting a weekly live sale on Instagram at 2:00 P.M. on Saturdays. It’s important to share highlights of our inventory with folks that aren’t one hundred percent comfortable shopping during the pandemic. We cultivated a big family of customers prior to the pandemic shutdown, and our activity on Facebook and Instagram helped us stay in touch with people and connect to other businesses.”

One trend the two women have noticed is that career-oriented items aren’t selling as much as they once did. Working from home has changed career-wear culture. They said the great thing about resale is that you don’t have to spend a lot to wear fashionable clothing, and shopping secondhand is beneficial for one’s budget, as well as the environment.

“When we do shift back to school full-time, being social, or heading back to the workplace, our store will be a fantastic option for families who don’t want to spend full price on apparel,” Williams said. “Also, having a significant amount of down time has inspired folks to clean out their closets and purge unneeded things. This is beneficial to the world of resale, because we are seeing an influx of amazing items that people are casting off in exchange for cash or store credit.”

By Kevin Alan Lamb

SUMMERS WERE SPENT PLAYING BASEBALL in the front yard by day, and running through neighborhood streets, playing Capture-The-Flag by night. In those brief moments we took respite inside my childhood home for PBJ’s and hydration, we could always depend on my mom busy at work painting in the kitchen (her studio), listening to Julio Iglesias. Our home was decorated with her water-color and mixed media creations, while her positive energy and creativity still tell a story today.

All those years ago, she was a member of the Lawrence Street Gallery, which first made its home in Pontiac, before finding its way to Ferndale. Little did I know then, but some 25 years later I would call Ferndale home, and be given the opportunity to write about Lawrence Street Gallery, connecting with Laura Host, its Director and my mom’s old friend.

“Your mom, Kris, was always a very enthusiastic member. She was a great artist and was willing to attempt anything!” Host says.

“Our first location was on Lawrence Street in the old Salvation Army building in Pontiac. The space had been an art gallery but a new owner bought the building and wanted to have it continue as a gallery. So she decided to turn it into an artist cooperative gallery. The original members set it up legally as a cooperative and Lawrence St. Gallery started in 1987.”

Despite being closed from mid-March until July, Host was quick to identify a silver lining in the pandemic; citing increased foot traffic downtown as a result of people having less to do, and receiving the Oakland Together Small Business Recovery Grant.

“We received the grant in October 2020,” thanks to Treasurer Dennis Montville, who is also a wood turner and wood sculptor. “We’ve been able to purchase air-purifying machines and hand-sanitizer machines to help our members and visitors feel safer,” Host says.

Closing also prompted a needed shift in emphasis toward the Gallery’s online presence. “Cindy Parsons (painter) spearheaded the project of making the Gallery capable of having virtual exhibits online.”

WHILE SHE WASN’T LOOKING FORWARD TO COMING BACK, HOST QUICKLY REALIZED how much she missed it. “What could be better than sipping coffee while looking at art?”

Open the first Friday of every month, ten people are allowed in the gallery at a time. Even after being in Ferndale for 18 years, they are exploring ways to better let neighbors know they are there.

“We joined the Chamber of Commerce and have tried to create events that get people into the gallery, like Meet-the-Artist Sundays. We stress that we have a brand-new exhibit at the gallery every month.”

Grateful for this serendipitous entanglement of past and present, I asked Host to paint us a picture of the gallery’s early days.

“The space had high ceilings, beautiful tall windows and wood floors. Downtown Pontiac was waking up after a time of empty buildings and the City offered buildings for very little, hoping to have the new owners refurbish the buildings and downtown. We were the first gallery in the 1987 version of downtown Pontiac, and the last one to leave in 2003.

Finding a spot on Woodward Ave. in Ferndale seemed like a great idea. We kept the name Lawrence Street Gallery as we had been known as a place for artists to display their work, and we wanted to keep a connection to all the history of the gallery.”

Artists are their best customers, and Host is grateful that people are learning more about the community, that they might not have had time for in the past.

“We have affordable, original, all-media art by area artists. Those who love buying art can always find something at the gallery, and those who are just starting out buying artwork for their homes can find amazing art, at affordable prices. We even donated a percentage of sales for a couple of months when we reopened last July to the Renaissance Vineyard Food Pantry in Ferndale.”

By Kevin Alan Lamb

WHILE MUCH OF THE WORLD IS BETTER FAMILIAR with the comforts of working from home after 2020, I would similarly wager there is a greater appreciation for quiet, distraction-free, office space.

Founded in 2018 to be just that, Ben Long says PatchWork Collective was opened as a result of a lack of small office space in Ferndale, particularly for solo entrepreneurs and start-ups.

“The goal was to have something unique, and different from the large coworking sites like WeWork,” Long says.

Located at 22007 Woodward Ave., PatchWork Collective invites you to work the way you want, offering safe and adaptable office space with private offices, conference rooms, and special event/presentation space when permitted.

“Networking groups, weddings/wedding showers, birthdays, ballroom/ tango dance events, social events, book signings, animal adoption events, retirement parties, painting classes, and art auctions” are all examples of the events held in the space thus far.

PatchWork Collective is open to its members 24/7, and otherwise by appointment only.

“Ferndale has always been very inclusive and welcoming, and has a nice community and neighborly feel. PatchWork has a diverse member population. PatchWork has been well-received by the community with several members and occasional users being Ferndale residents and/or Ferndale business workers. Additionally, PatchWork won the Ferndale New Project of the Year in 2019 at the Mayor’s Business Council Award Ceremony,” Long says.

The Mayor’s Business Council gave out five awards to local businesses and business people who truly represented the heart of Ferndale. Mayor Coulter introduced former PatchWork CEO, Lisa Schmidt, and told everyone how the PatchWork Collective was an idea born right here in Ferndale. He talked about how Lisa and her co-founder Long had worked with the Build Institute in Ferndale to create their business plan and develop the company from concept to concrete. He shared how PatchWork is a great space for small business owners, remote workers, and entrepreneurs to work together.

A RECENT ROLLOUT AT THE COLLECTIVE IS THEIR TABLETOP MARKETPLACE, which is a way for vendors who might usually be at festivals like Pride, or those merchants with side gigs making products like candles, to sell their products.

“We currently feature homemade candles from Ferndale’s own Solas Candles, a local artist’s production, Waxing Cara (homemade goods using natural ingredients from bees), and products from Bedazzled Ballroom Dress Rental. The marketplace is open Saturday and Sunday from 2:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M., or by appointment. We’re always looking for additional vendors, so contact us if anyone is interested in learning more.”

Long hopes that once vaccines are fully rolled out and we are in the clear, they can get back to being a co-working, incubator space.

To inquire about renting space or about services offered, visit or email

By Jenn Goeddeke

FOR NEARLY SEVEN DECADES, METRO DETROIT’S PRIMARY DESTINATION for great contemporary and mid-century modern home decor has been Living Modes. Located at 23535 Woodward in Ferndale, and owned by Richard Sherman, Living Modes has gathered an extensive clientele over the years.

Along with his high energy manager of 34 years, Rick Lakomy, Sherman prides himself on dedication to his loyal customers. Sherman and Lakomy enjoy getting to know everyone. Even though the Covid19 pandemic has hit Ferndale hard, Sherman continues to work diligently to keep up with the demand for his products and services.

We sat on a gorgeous, white leather reclining couch, next to a large and brightly-colored coffee table. I was already sold! Sherman put me at ease, with his laid-back conversational style. After chatting, Sherman took me on a tour of the entire two-level store, quite an eye-opening experience for art lovers such as myself.

Sherman’s background in horticulture and interior design clearly served him well in forming these stunning showrooms and the whole ensemble is spot-on. All items are displayed in a highly color-coordinated and integral way; it’s a lively, Cirque du Soleil arrangement of furniture, art, lighting, mirrors, florals and accessories where all items are vying for attention! Sherman takes great pride in his selection of merchandise, and buys items from all over the world.

SHERMAN STARTED OUT SMALLER, WITH JUST 3000 SQUARE FEET. The store has evolved greatly over the decades. In 1953, his father, Bernard “Barney” Sherman opened the first incarnation of Living Modes, on the old James Couzens highway. Gradually over the years, Richard Sherman started to handle the nuts and bolts of the business. Then in 1995, the store moved to its current location at 23535 Woodward Ave in Ferndale

Due to the Covid19 pandemic, Sherman had to close the store for a couple of months, like most others in Michigan. However, he considers himself fortunate, as sales have remained strong. Teaming up with his son, Ian, Sherman retains a prominent online presence, through both FaceBook and their web site. Naturally, Sherman has been saddened by the effect of the pandemic on many of his neighbors’ lives and businesses, and he is “waiting for the ‘new normal’ – I want to see Ferndale return to its former bustling vibrancy.”

Mon. 11:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M.
Tues 11:00 A.M. – 6:00 P.M.
Weds-Thurs Closed
Fri 11:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M.
Sat 11:00 A.M. – 6:00 P.M.
Sun Closed

By Kevin Lamb

“HUMBLED AND LUCKY TO BE GIVEN the opportunity to give others an opportunity,” Chris Best says.

When it comes down to it, isn’t that what we should all be striving for? A series of fortuitous happenings, propelled by hard work, and community support which create the space, time and mechanism to help others experience the same.

“In 2011 we set out to create an environment where everyone wins,” and they’ve done just that at The Rust Belt Market.

“The patrons get an authentic human experience which is the antithesis of online shopping. The vendors get to practice and hone their skills turning their passion and dreams into a business they can rely on to bring in steady income. We as the owners get to increase our own business acumen including starting our own events business with a full bar and a plant shop. Practice makes more perfect and we all learn from each other while lifting each other,” Best says.

It is a tremendous gift, and business model to help lift others; not so different from a community garden where space is shared, nurtured, and cultivated for a common good.

“I cherish our time at Rustbelt: the friendships we have made, and the unique shopping experience it gave our customers. It was a great way for us to expand our brands. Tiffany and Chris Best do a great job managing the market and listening to vendors. All the vendors look out for each other and the sense of community is very strong there as well. The Rust Belt Market is the best business incubator in all of the Metro Detroit area,” Paul Marcial of Ink Detroit and The Great Lakes State says.

Best has a deep sense of gratitude towards the brave group of business owners who have been with them since the beginning.

“That list is: C Cooper Designs, Ida Belle Soaps, Tooth And Nail Oddities, Painted Lady Trashions, Attack Hunger and Detroit GT. They did two things that we’ll never forget. They took a chance on a strange business model ten years ago when we needed a vote of confidence most. And they stuck with us through good times and bad. That kind of loyalty is rare and never forgotten. There are other shops like 248 Studio, Outer Spaceways and Speedcult that have been with us almost nine years and we have gratitude towards them as well. We have a lot of gratitude towards our shops in general.”

THAT SEEMING SENSE OF ETERNAL GRATITUDE IS VIBRANTLY RECIPROCATED, coming full circle, back around from the small business owners within The Rustbelt.

“It can’t be overstated how important our partnership with Rustbelt has been since our inception,” says Jeremy Olstyn, Board Member and Production Director of Ferndale Radio.

“Back when we were ramping up to apply for our construction permit with the FCC, we weren’t even sure where we could house our little station. Part of my day job is running WPHS-FM (a small high school radio station in Warren) and Chris Best invited my students and I to broadcast live from the Rustbelt one weekend. So, when we were looking for a home for Ferndale Radio, Chris and Tiffany were really enthusiastic about having us onboard. From what I recall, having an in-market radio station was part of their original business plan. It’s not hyperbole to say that without Chris and Tiffany, we would not be on air in Ferndale.”

Making possible what might have previously been otherwise; like planting seeds in rich soil, creating an opportunity for life itself. Best credits the City government of Ferndale for their customer service orientation, taking a public/private partnership stance when approaching their small requests/needs.

“We’ve heard horror stories from business owners in other cities, and we feel like the city government is our ally. The community of good humans who appreciate the goods made and carried by our shops are way up on that list of gratitude as well! They have been the ones who have made the dream a reality for all of us Rust Belters. Their votes via dollars are the reason we are making it through this awful pandemic.”

IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO TRANSFORM DREAMS INTO REALITIES, and each of us possess unique abilities to help another’s garden grow.

“I think the idea of small shops coming together in a unique, collective space fits perfectly with our community and DIY aesthetic. The Rustbelt is one of those purely Ferndale destinations that has become synonymous with the type of business people want to support and see thrive and grow in the city. For many of the Rustbelt vendors, you’re seeing people investing in their dreams through sweat and hard work every weekend; our volunteer DJs are doing the same thing in supporting Ferndale Radio,” Olstyn says.

Plants need water; dreams insist sweat equity. The closer a dream aligns with another, the more magnanimous and possible it grows. Like plants, dreams must adapt to ever-changing conditions if they are to blossom.

“Our events business has been shut down for one year. This has been devastating because events brought in 70 percent of our revenue and helped keep rent affordable for our retail tenants. We’ve had to adapt by scheduling a rent increase for our tenants to help offset this loss. Also, my business partner has been able to spend more time focused on The Plant House which is located inside The Rust Belt. She has also added an online sales cart during the shutdown. We eliminated Friday hours also as a way to cut costs and lower risk.”

Nestled within the heart and foundation of Ferndale, The Rustbelt continues to evolve its offerings, preparing for recently approved City ordinances, and their 10th birthday!

“Our wonderful DDA and City Council just approved social districts! That means open adult beverages will be allowed in most of the Downtown’s pedestrian walkways and parklets. We plan to take advantage of this by setting up an inviting, outdoor hangout area behind our building with an attractive tent, good lighting and plants. Follow us on social media to stay updated.”

By Rose Carver

RIFINO VALENTINE WAS INSPIRED TO START HIS VALENTINE DISTILLING COMPANY in direct rebellion of the manufacturing standards by big alcohol companies. Coming from a background on Wall Street, he saw big players making big moves in what he considered to be the wrong direction.

IT ALL STARTED WITH THE DIRTY MARTINI. Valentine would frequent different swanky bars to enjoy this beloved drink after a long day at work. He would try vodkas with labels that said “handcrafted” but, upon further inspection, proved to be just another mass-produced liquor.

“Put simply, profits became the chief goal instead of the quality of the product,” Valentine explained. This prompted him to create a business model that focused on quality.

Valentine Distilling is located in 965 Wanda Street in Ferndale, just down the street from their cocktail bar, on 161 Vester Avenue. Valentine claims the small cocktail bar serves the “best stuff in the world.” You can find this “stuff” all over the Midwest, as it is distributed in 12 states, spanning the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

These spirits are award-winning, and have won best-vodka-in-the-world two years in a row. Their gin has also been named the best-American gin, and their cask gin has won a world’s-best award as well. That doesn’t begin to cover all of the awards won over the years.

Which one is Rifino’s favorite? He says choosing a favorite liquor is like choosing a favorite kid.

“IN THE FALL MONTHS I ENJOY OUR BARREL-AGED GIN OR OUR BOURBON. In the spring and summer time, I go for our White Blossom vodka,” he says, boasting the quality of their flavored vodkas. “Nothing is better than sitting on a sunny patio with a White Blossom cocktail.”

Like many businesses in the area, Valentine has been hit really hard by the pandemic. Forty-five percent of their distribution is to bars and restaurants, and the shutdown has been devastating. “It’s been horrible, a really tough year,” Valentine said. “We are still trying to build back our business, but we are going to be okay.” Early on in the pandemic, the distillery also made a Valentine brand hand-sanitizing liquid. A sincere thanks goes to the customers who bought those and their “to-go” cocktails last year, as he says it helped them out a lot.

The City of Ferndale also gets a special Valentine thank you, as they allowed the cocktail lounge to expand their patio seating to a couple street parking spots when indoor seating was restricted. The lounge is now back to 50 percent occupancy, and outdoor seating is also available.

ANOTHER WAY THAT VALENTINE DISTILLING goes above and beyond for their customers and community is their commitment to what they call their “Clean Green Initiative.” The business is in their third year of a ten-year sustainability initiative, which includes making their 20,000 square feet manufacturing facility completely sustainable. They installed a system that will allow them to reuse up to 98 percent of their water. Being from a Great Lakes state, Valentine says they take their water usage seriously. Their green initiative has also allowed for the installation of LED lighting in the facility, and an ambient temperature chilling system that uses much less energy.

“Large liquor companies are making billions of dollars off of Michigan consumers,” Valentine said. “We want to influence customers to demand more from those companies to be responsible when it comes to energy efficiency.” Valentine claims that because these larger liquor companies have no tie to the region in which they sell their product, they don’t make decisions that are responsible for the community.

Get the good stuff from Valentine Distilling, and support regional manufacturing companies who have your best interests in mind. It’s good to know what goes on behind the scenes, and their product speaks for itself.

By Ingrid Sjostrand
Photos ©2021 David McNair

FERNDALE IS A GREAT PLACE TO GRAB SOME GRUB. This past year, however, has been a challenge for many bar and restaurant owners, who have had to withstand a whirlwind of closing, reopening, and putting new restrictions into place. Here’s how a few of your favorites are enduring the ups-and-downs.

Danny’s Irish Pub: A Retro Flare & Affordable Fare

DANNY’S IRISH PUB, 22824 WOODWARD AVE., has been a staple of Ferndale for years. It features an old-school atmosphere with a jukebox, pinball machines, and darts. Danny’s is the perfect place to grab a drink and enjoy inexpensive bar must-haves like burgers and chips.

Owner Dan Reedy has been forced to roll with the punches during the pandemic.

“We have been very lucky,” he said. “Like everyone else, we were closed for the first three months. We received the first PPP money during that time to keep our payroll, rent, and utilities paid. After the first month we did a little carryout.”

As the landscape changed, so, too, did his plan. Reedy explains, “When the Governor allowed us, we reopened on a limited basis with all of the proper restrictions. When the Governor shut us down again, we did outside service. With the weather getting very cold, it was a relief when we could open up inside at 25 percent. Now we’re up to 50 percent and it’s great.”

Reedy credits the community’s support, saying, “We are very thankful to all of the people who supported us through the worst times.”

For more information on capacity requirements or to place an order, call 248.546.8331.

Detroit Fleat: The Delicious Place to Eat from the Street

AFTER SUCCESSFULLY LAUNCHING AND RUNNING THEIR OWN FOOD TRUCK, Detroit Fleat owners Katie Picard and Aaron Tye wanted to create a place for the food truck community to gather. In 2017, that vision came to life. Detroit Fleat opened its doors at 1820 E. Nine Mile Rd. with ample space for trucks to visit and guests to enjoy a unique, open venue.

“Detroit Fleat is proud to be the first-and-only food truck park in Metro Detroit,” said Brooke Zadorsky, Marketing Manager, adding that Ferndale has proven to be the perfect spot. “Being a part of such a vibrant city inspires us to be creative, to be good neighbors, and to continually strive to improve.”

During the summer months, the Fleat offers a space to feature the best food trucks in the area on its huge patio, alongside a year-round delicious, street food-inspired menu. And a bonus to dining outside? The space is dog-friendly. “We love seeing all of our furry friends and their humans,” Zadorsky said.

Guests can also grab cocktails, choose from a lineup of 16 craft beers, or order the Fleat’s famous frozen, boozy Slooshies at its full bar.

“FOOD TRUCK SEASON OFFICIALLY KICKED OFF MAY 1, 2021,” Zadorsky said, adding, “From the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve taken our responsibility to keep our staff and guests as safe as possible seriously. Almost every aspect of the way we do business has adapted to ensure we are at the forefront of safe COVID practices.”

Some of the changes include implementing a walk-up counter to maintain social distancing, installing an advanced surface and air purification system directly through the Fleat’s HVAC, and placing air purifiers with HEPA filters throughout the dining room. All staff members are completing temperature checks, wearing masks, and sanitizing frequently.

“We will continue to provide the safest atmosphere we can for our guests and staff,” Zadorsky explained, and she thanks the patrons for their help. “Our community is amazing! We have been so humbled by the support through the year. Whether it’s ordering curbside pickup, engaging with us on social media or visiting us for a safe spot to enjoy food and drinks, we are so grateful for all the ways our friends, family, and neighbors have shown us love.”

Those dining in-person will soon be able to enjoy a new feature. Zadorsky announced, “Fleat is excited to roll into our fourth season with a new addition to the patio. Look for our own house trailer that guests can visit for boozy popsicles, ice cream treats, and canned cocktails. We are always striving to improve upon our business year after year and this new facet is sure to be a hit with our guests.”

For more information, visit or call 248.607.7611

Get Great Food at Got Pho

GOT PHO, 172 W. NINE MILE RD., is an Asian Fusion restaurant with an array of Tai, Vietnamese, and Chinese dishes launched by Thomas and Nancy Singh. The restaurant also offers many vegan and gluten-free options.

“We understand the different dietary needs our customers may have, so we try to accommodate as much as we can,” said Nancy Singh. “Ferndale already had a great array of dining options, but pho was the only thing missing. We are passionate about food and wanted to expand the food scene in Ferndale – therefore, Got Pho was born.”

Their vision was brought to life in the middle of the pandemic.

“We had many challenges trying to get open on time, but we finally opened our doors June 1, 2020,” she explained. “We quickly adjusted by providing delivery services, so Got Pho partnered up with Grub Hub and Door Dash as a contact-free convenience to our customers.”

And, thankfully, Ferndale came through to help. “The community has been very supportive since we’ve opened,” Singh said. “Our customers are the reason why we have made it through the toughest times of this pandemic. We still have to remain vigilant and follow health guidelines to ensure safety for every citizen.”

Now, Got Pho is just waiting for when it’s safe enough to resume business normally. “We can’t wait to participate in upcoming community events!” she exclaimed. “Ferndale has the best customers around by far. The diverse community is what makes it so unique and so special. So Got Pho is proud to call Ferndale home.”

For more information or to place an order, visit or call 248.780.1164.

New Way Bar: A New Spin on an Old Tradition

NEW WAY BAR, 23130 WOODWARD AVE., originally opened in 1935, and current owner Jamie D’Angelo bought the well-known hot-spot in 2013. The bar offers live music, comedy shows, and games such as skee-ball, ping pong, pool, and darts. It also offers open-mike nights and themed events and is home to the Ferndale-famous game ‘Down the Clown.’

A community center of sorts, many local musicians and artists call New Way their ‘second home,’ and all featured talent keep 100 percent of their earnings. The laid-back, old-fashioned vibe also means all guests are treated like family.

“The past year has presented a lot of challenges and opportunities,” D’Angelo explained. “We do not have any events scheduled at this time due to the uncertainty of occupancy restrictions.”

However, the pandemic has offered an opportunity to update the interior and get to know those who helped along the way.

“We have taken the reduced occupancy requirements as an opportunity to get to know our customers better,” he said. “We also had the chance to replace some equipment, carpet, and refresh the paint. We have been so lucky because the community has been very encouraging and supportive. Our re-openings have been well received and business remains as solid as it can be, all things considered. We also have a great group of regulars that really make the place special. The staff are invested and truly enjoy serving our neighbors and the community at large.”

For more information or to place an order, visit or call 248.541.9870.

KAISER SUIDAN NEXT STEP STUDIO & GALLERY: 530 Hilton, check web site for shows and hours. Indoor and outdoor galleries and event space. An emphasis on functional art.

LAWRENCE STREET GALLERY: 22620 Woodward, Weds.-Sat. 12:00-5:00 P.M. (Friday till 9:00 P.M.), Sunday 1:00-5:00 P.M. A member-owned gallery that also includes other artists in juried displays.

LEVEL ONE BANK COMMUNITY ARTS GALLERY: 22635 Woodward, Mon.-Fri. 9:00-5:00 P.M. (Friday till 6:00 P.M.). Curated by gallerist and framing guru Mark Burton. Specializes in solo and themed shows.

M CONTEMPORARY GALLERY: 205 East Nine Mile, Weds.–Sat. 1:00-6:00 P.M. (5:00 on Saturday). Special services for collectors both individual and corporate. National presence.

PAUL KOTULA: 23255 Woodward (second floor), Check website for hours. Focused on emerging and mid-career artists.

RUST BELT GALLERY: 22801 Woodward, Hours vary seasonally. A group of creative small businesses, many in arts and design.

SPACE CAT V-STRO: 255 W 9 Mile Rd, 248-268-3211.

STATE OF THE ART: 918 W. Nine Mile, Tues.- Fri. 11:00-7:00 P.M., Sat. 11:00-5:00 P.M. Gallery with full service design, printing and framing services.

THE STRATFORD: 138 Stratford, Check Facebook for hours. Gallery and event space near Eight Mile. Facebook: The Stratford Studios Ferndale.

THE WHITEBRICK GALLERY: 150 Livernois, Hours vary. A group of artists providing an opportunity for creative exhibits.

0 106

By Sara Teller

IT IS A MARVELOUS WONDER when one hones their craft, and then proceeds to offer others access to such wizardry. Chris Best is a “self-identified iconoclast who’s passionate about creating unconventional, jaw-dropping spaces.”

While commonly known for his work at The Rust Belt Market and The Plant House, there is little common about Best’s application of his 20 years experience at custom building which continues to lay a foundation in Ferndale.

“I’ve been in and around the building trades since I was 17. I got licensed as a home builder at 26. I built three homes before the recession of 2008. After that, I swore I’d never return to building. We then opened The Rust Belt in 2011 as a way to pivot away from building,” Best says.

Amidst our intentions, time, circumstance, and pandemics reveal the unexpected journey. After renting a home for most of the ten years Chris and Tiffany Best owned The Rust Belt, escalating housing prices along with a particular set of skills birthed a living, breathing, work-of-art – which just happens to be a home.

“There are five of us altogether and we were needing to upgrade our living situation. In Ferndale, housing prices have gone up so much. Purchasing a home built in the ‘30s or ‘40s for $375,000 seemed crazy when we could spend a little bit more to build exactly what we want.”

EMWILL IS THE FIRST SINGLE-FAMILY RESIDENCE BUILT BY C. BEST BUILDER, a licensed and insured residential building company specializing in unique concepts. “The shape and color of the house is quite unique. The house turning out beautiful at the same time a global pandemic badly hobbled The Rust Belt Market led to an easy decision. The next step was obvious. I am now going to put that license to use, using my powers for good and hopefully earn a little bit of money along the way.”

Fairly proficient with several building trades, Best estimates his “powers for good” have saved The Rust Belt Market and The Plant House a combined total of $500,000, over the years.

“I built almost every interior wall inside of the market, built out the bar, and every interesting feature in the market including the poison dart frog terrarium. My experience and expertise really gives us an unfair advantage in a business such as ours.”

THE ABILITY TO PIVOT AND RE-POSITION with the passing present, paired with what Best describes as a current lack of trustworthy builders, build-ing quality homes, has helped him capture the attention, imagination, and interest of the community.

“I have an interested client who wants me to build a new home on a vacant lot in Ferndale. It looks promising but nothing has been signed yet. It’s crazy to think about; if this building business takes off, I have the 2020 pandemic to thank. The 2008 recession was a big reason The Rust Belt Market was created. Life is a strange journey.”

Whether high or low, it is important that each of us ride the tide into another day where and when the crystal ball may become more clear. We ride on, so we can build on a foundation, together for good.

By Sara Teller

THE FERNDALE AREA HAS EVERYTHING FIRST-TIME HOME BUYERS ARE LOOKING FOR – from arts and entertainment, an eclectic array of dining options, and unique shops within walking distance, all centrally located with quick access to the freeway.

As Erica Powers, Mortgage Banker at Level One Bank, explained, it’s a “highly competitive market.” So, it’s important for a buyer to have a knowledgeable team to guide them every step of the way.

Real estate agent Brendan Davis of Jim Shaffer & Associates also knows the area well. “I always tell buyers to have some criteria ready for must-haves and deal breakers,” he said. “A garage, for instance. Or a fence. Make a list and stick to it.” Dan Solomon of Guardian Home Inspections agreed, saying it’s important for buyers to have realistic expectations budget-wise and with what to expect when home shopping. Then, it’s time to focus on financing.

Erica Powers

Powers said, “A good place to start, and an important factor in a home purchase, is how the new payment will fit into your budget. Determine your monthly budget and then set up a time to speak with an experienced mortgage professional to review the many different loan options available before starting your search. Having a budget and the idea of the programs available will help you choose a mortgage option that best suits your short and long-term needs and goals.”

“You don’t want to start looking at places and realize they’re out of your price range, develop unrealistic expectations and get deflated after the fact. Get the pre-approval letter first,” Davis suggested. “It’s important to remember, too, if you’re putting 20 percent down, you also have to account for other costs. Always be prepared to bring more than this to closing.”

POWERS ADDED, “FOR FIRST TIME HOME BUYERS, ONE OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES is saving up for a downpayment. Banks offer a number of programs to help first-time home buyers with lower downpayment requirements.” And, as far as getting pre-approved, the process isn’t as daunting as it may seem at first.

She said, “The best way to set yourself up for success in a competitive market is to get a true pre-approval that has been reviewed by a mortgage underwriter so you can confidently shop in a price range that you’re both personally comfortable with and that you qualify for based on the lending guidelines. A pre-approval that has been reviewed by the underwriter will not only give you the confidence you need to focus on what really matters – finding your new home – but it will strengthen your offer in the eyes of sellers and can dramatically speed up the loan process, getting you into your new home faster.”

First-time home buyers looking in the Ferndale area should be aware that many of the homes were built pre-World War II era. That’s why it’s so important to get the property inspected. Solomon Said, “A home inspector will not only fully inspect a house but should walk you through what that information means to you as you proceed.”

Brendan Davis

Davis added, “There’s some newer ones but, for the most part, these are older homes along the Woodward Corridor. They’re 70 to 80, sometimes 100, years old. Buyers should know what that means.” He offered, as an example, “The sewer pipes, sometimes, are made of clay crock, and they’ll need a camera inspection. This way, there won’t be any surprises.”

HIS TEAM CAN PULL COMPARABLE PROPERTIES IN THE AREA, so buyers have an idea of what homes will appraise for. “I can even tell a buyer if a home is under contract for a certain price,” Davis explained, meaning it may not be listed as a comparable just yet but will be. Jim Shaffer & Associates has the largest team of agents in the area and “our hyper-focus on Woodward Corridor makes us very knowledgeable about Ferndale and surrounding communities,” Davis said. “Buyers should find an agent who is local.”

Solomon said, “Working with a realtor that you have a good relationship with is one of the best things to make the process painless and successful,” and Powers couldn’t agree more.

“Typically, proximity to work, entertainment, good schools, and family and friends are factors that come into play when picking a location for your new home,” she explained. “A realtor who knows the market can help you navigate the location decision by finding you potential homes in the same school district and with great proximity to what’s most important to you. A good realtor can also point out housing trends and may be able to show you the next up and coming neighborhood that fits your needs – or avoid one that’s headed in the opposite direction.”

She added that, while there are a lot of moving parts, buyers shouldn’t forget to have fun. “Don’t get overwhelmed. While the process can be stressful at times, this should be a fun and exciting time. Build your team with a great realtor and mortgage professional so you can stay focused on what matters, be well informed and confident throughout the process.”