Business

By Lisa Howard

BEING FASHIONABLE HAS ALWAYS BEEN IN VOGUE. But with the advent of fast fashion, being fashionable unfortunately also sometimes means being unfriendly to the environment. Jess Minnick and Dy-man Johnson, cofounders of Not Sorry Goods, aim to change that.

“We have a big emphasis on using recycled materials,” says Jess. “We remix them and put our own twist on them. Sometimes we use an item for parts or sometimes we make something completely new with those materials. Creating zero-waste fashion really forces us to be creative and push ourselves in different ways to make different things.”

JESS AND DY-MAN SELL SUSTAINABLE APPAREL, ACCESSORIES, HOME GOODS, and gift items in their retail shop. Some of it they make themselves; some is made by small-batch brands and artists across the U.S. and in Metro Detroit. All of the creators, however, identify as social enterprise brands and are ecologically-minded.

And none sell on Amazon, because their items are one-of-a-kind. Don’t be surprised when an item is listed on the store’s website as being one of only one available. That uniqueness is a big part of the appeal for many customers.

So is the upcycled aspect of the items at Not Sorry Goods. Upcycling goes beyond recycling – it means enhancing what’s leftover and creating something new with it. Maybe a turtleneck gets turned into a halter top (with the scraps being made into pet toys), or maybe several scarves become a skirt. No matter the result, it’s wearable art!

ALTHOUGH NOT SORRY GOODS JUST OPENED ITS RETAIL LOCATION LAST AUGUST, Jess and Dy-man have been crafting their goods since 2016, when they first snagged a space at the Rust Belt Market. Having a mini store there gave the duo a chance to test their product, develop their customer base and learn more about visual merchandising.

“You want proof of concept before you go to being brick-and-mortar,” Jess explains. “Plus it’s a cool way to be a part of the community.”

Once the two women had a solid following, it made sense to open a full-service retail shop. It was clear that their shared passions for thrifting and fashion had turned them into ideal business partners.

And, besides, they’d become close friends ever since meeting in a fateful kickboxing class back in 2015. At the time, they both had a Group-on to use and were feeling a bit adrift after having entered the post-college phase of their lives. One kick and punch led to another…and then to realizing how much they had in common. Including, as Jess puts it, a “crazy energy” that keeps them happy and inspired.

“I’M REALLY HAPPY WITH HOW WE GOT HERE, IT’S BEEN VERY ORGANIC,” Jess says. Not only that, but she and Dy-man have found the community to be incredibly helpful and sweet, with everyone wanting to see each other be successful. While Dy-man is originally from Michigan, Jess is a Florida transplant who now considers herself a Michigander, in no small part because of how supportive the community has been.

“It’s a community through-and-through, professionally and personally,” she says, adding that she’s blown away by how many talented people live in the area. Although she and her husband had originally considered moving to other locations before they came here, she’s thrilled they wound up in Ferndale. She’d always wanted to open her own creative business, and this was the perfect place to do that.

“Making funky stuff with art scraps never gets old,” Jess says. “I feel so very lucky and blessed to get to do this as my full-time job.”

22963 Woodward Ave, Ferndale
notsorrygoods@gmail.com
https://notsorrygoods.com

By Lisa Howard

THIS ISN’T INKJET OR LASER PRINTING. IT ISN’T EVEN PICKING UP FULL-COLOR PHOTOS FROM CVS. This is meticulously rendered, high-end digital printing, the kind coveted by visual artists who want to fully showcase their work.

“Printing digital media is a high art,” says Karen Sanders. “It’s a combination of science and art, and it’s not easy to find a good printer anymore—somebody who truly knows what they’re doing is very rare. Larry is that person.”

The Larry she’s talking about is Larry Melkus of Fine Art Printing. He attended the Center for Creative Studies back when it was still called the Detroit Society of Arts & Crafts, studying photography with a focus on art.

Upon graduating, he went on to open his own photography studio and worked with commercial advertising clients, creating prints for trade shows, automotive companies, and other commercial entities. But, after about 30 years of commercial work, Larry decided to shift his specialty to the art world; nowadays, he works almost exclusively with visual artists.

“I can digitally scan anything I can get through the door and create a high-definition, color-corrected digital reproduction of that art and then make a print of it, whether the artwork is a sculpture or a 6’x10’ canvas,” says Larry.

HE CAN MAKE PRINTS OF DRAWINGS, PAINTINGS, SCULPTURES, collages, sketches – you name it. He can even transform relatively low-quality digital files into striking images, which is why he encourages anyone with beloved digital photos to let him work with those files. “As far as how the image can be presented and how big it can get, the limitations are more about the skills of the person making the prints rather than the size of the digital file itself,” he says, pointing out that today’s advanced digital tools allow him to capitalize on an image’s best features.

“Making prints sometimes seems to be of a thing of a past, yet it isn’t. When people see a completed print from a digital file, they get pretty excited about it,” Karen adds. She’s also a grad of CCS, although she eventually moved away from Michigan to Texas, where she taught digital media at the University of Texas for 15 years. About six years ago, she moved back to Detroit and reconnected with the art community here.

Then in November of 2021, she heard that Larry was looking for an assistant. As a one-man shop with a sterling reputation among artists, he was slammed with work. She applied for the job and landed her dream opportunity.

“I’ve had more engagement with the artist community in six months of working here than I had during the entire six years I’d been back in Detroit,” she says. “That’s because Larry takes the time to talk to people individually and helps them understand the process of making their art into a print. He educates people about what’s possible.”

That desire to help artists and the art-interested realize the potential of digital media attracts both local talent and artists from other states—Larry regularly works with clients from New York, Boston, and Texas as well as Metro Detroit artists. The materials he uses are durable, heavyweight canvases and art paper, the kind of archival material you see in galleries and museums. But whether he’s collaborating with a painter looking to document their work in the form of a book or a casual photographer who wants to make a cherished photo into a print, his goal remains the same: To create a compelling work of art.

732 Hilton Road, Ferndale | 248.571.0111 www.facebook.com/Fine.Art.Printing.MI

By Sara Teller

GO COMEDY IMPROV THEATER WAS FOUNDED IN 2008 BY GERALD KNIGHT, CHRIS DIANGELO, TOMMY LEROY, AND PJ JACOKES. When Second City Detroit moved to Novi, where it would later close, there were a lot of talented improvisers and comedians who suddenly had no home. The four owners came together, hoping they could fill that gap.

The theater currently offers weekly improv opportunities showcasing short-form, game-style skits such as ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway’ as well as long-form, improvised scene work. It also hosts a variety of entertainment venues open to the public.

“In addition, we offer improv and sketch-writing classes designed to help working professionals get better at public speaking and thinking on their feet,” said manager Jess Krrzyczkowski, adding that the theater trains “the next generation of improvisers to keep pushing the art form forward. We also have our corporate improv and workshops division, Go Corp, which offers corporate-training, team-building, and entertainment for basically any event you can imagine.”

GO COMEDY’S INTRO PROGRAM INCLUDES CLASSES OPEN TO ANYONE, from any background, with any level of talent. Newcomers always start at Intro I and learn to use long-practiced improv tools to improve their communication skills. Those who just want to meet new people in the area or improve their public speaking skills are welcome, as are business professionals and budding artists.

The theater’s Advanced Improv is for anyone who has completed the Intro Program and is looking to build upon these skills. The workshops focus primarily on scene work and long-form montages, which are more complicated than what participants are introduced to at the Intro level. The program challenges members who are looking to move beyond basic skill-building.

Go Comedy’s Sketch-Writing Program focuses on various types of sketches, fundamentals, and writing exercises over the course of an entire term, allowing students to hone their craft as they develop a show which will run before an audience.

Even though the pandemic has taken a hit on the theater since its inception, the staff is looking forward to becoming active in the community once again and will be involved in several upcoming events and activities, including Ferndale Pride (June 4, 2022), the Run for Laughs 5k (June 11, 2022) and the Detroit Improv Festival (August 2022, detroitimprovfestival.org). Go Comedy will be setting up a booth at Pride and will host Run for Laughs, a charity run/walk event meant to continue the theater’s mission to foster community, inspire movement, and promote mental health in an inclusive, supportive, and humorous environment. It will also host the Improv Festival.

Krrzyczkowski explained, “The theater is obviously slow to return post-pandemic. We had to shut our doors from March 2020 to September 2021, and rebuilding has been slow. We’re still operating at a reduced capacity, and requiring masks and proof of COVID vaccine, because keeping our casts and staff safe is priority number one. I think more than ever before, people are looking for escape from the heaviness of life in these unprecedented times, and if we can provide that freedom and levity, we’re happy to do that.”

She encourages all residents to get involved, saying, “Improv comedy has been a historically white and cis-male space, and we’re doing our best to shift that and create better, more inclusive entertainment. Our audiences have always been diverse, and we want to offer shows that cater to a variety of people and progressive viewpoints. We offer a diversity scholarship for interested students and have a proven commitment to putting forth shows that feature diverse casts.”

Go Comedy Improv Theater is located at 261 E. 9 Mile Rd. For more information, please visit gocomedy.net or call 248.327.0575

By Jill Hurst
Photo by David McNair

EIGHT AND A HALF YEARS IN A TOWN BRINGS THE PRIVILEGE OF MOURNING LOCAL LANDMARKS that have disappeared and looking with suspicion at change, or heaven forbid, “progress.”

I am a little protective and curmudgeon-y about Ferndale these days, baffled by the new parking structure and the plan for even more parking. Mixed-use space? I’m all about collaboration, but what’s it going to do to individual businesses? And all those dispensaries. They’re fine, but geez. Do we need so many?

Maybe I’m still recovering from the roller-coaster of emotion I experienced when the Green Buddha opened on Hilton. I thought it was a new Chinese restaurant, something I’d been hoping for since sweet little China Ruby closed. I was certain the carryout order I’d been carrying around for years was about to become a delicious reality. My dreams were crushed when my husband informed me that there was no vegetable chow fun to be found at Green Buddha.

WHEN ASKED TO SHARE MY FEELINGS ABOUT FERNDALE 2022, I decided to hit the sidewalks and catch up on what’s happened while we were in the house, binging and Zooming and venting our frustration about pretty much everything on whatever local forum we belong to. I took three separate walks around town with the goal of rediscovering this town we live in.

A lot of what I saw was very heartening. The front yards are flowering. The dog parade is still the best entertainment in town. I peeked into Fine Art Printing on Hilton and end up getting a tour from the owner. The Ringwald Theater might not occupy the NE corner of Nine and Woodward anymore, but the theater company has found a new home with Affirmations, just down the street.

Java Hutt is still a great place to meet friends, write your screenplay and order coffee without being judged! The restaurants are welcoming; I experienced wonderful servers every time I’ve gone out to eat. The hospitality business had to reinvent itself in so many ways during the pandemic and the servers who stuck with the business seem to love it. Of course we’ll always miss the places that are gone (does anyone know how to make those chips Dino used to serve with the burgers?) but now there’s Mexican, lobster rolls, Pho as well as many of our tried-and-true favorites that took care of us during lockdown.

FERNDALE BUSINESSES AND RESIDENTS ARE STILL BRAVE AND UNAFRAID to share their political beliefs and humanitarian concerns with signs in their windows and front lawns. The Library is open. Our two bookstores and Found Sound are also open for business. The Ferndale Community Concert Band is still alive and well. We drove past an outdoor front lawn performance of the FCCB last Fall. It was magical. And now there’s the M-1 Jazz Collective. As our old pal Friedrich Nietzsche would say, “Without music, life would be a mistake.”

While we’re talking music, fingers crossed we’ll be hearing the piped-in music again on 9 Mile. It’s part of the Ferndale soundtrack, along with the ice cream truck and the train whistle. Yep, the train. Still there. It’s still going to chug through town and make you late for something. But that’s part of living in fierce, frustrating, friendly fabulous Ferndale.

I found my Ferndale this week. Get out there and find yours.

By Kerry Lark

RE-TREE CONNECTS AND UNITES TREE-LOVERS ACROSS THE COUNTRY, offering them three options for mature trees: relocation, buying, or selling. RE-TREE has already saved many mature trees from becoming a pile of woodchips!

DENNISE VIDOSH IS THE FOUNDER AND CEO OF RETREE, A WOMAN-OWNED SMALL BUSINESS DEDICATED TO SAVING AND RE-PURPOSING OUR MATURE TREES. Her love for trees is literally in her family bloodline, going back to the days she spent as a child working with her father, Donn Vidosh Sr., a legendary pioneer in Michigan’s landscape construction industry.

It was her passion for trees that ultimately led Vidosh to create RE-TREE. Based in Pontiac, RETREE’s imaginative digital marketplace and educational platform makes it easy for commercial and residential property owners to save mature trees from being needlessly destroyed and create value for themselves rather than waste.

Trees are the longest living organisms on earth, with some able to live over 5,000 years. Talk about longevity! However, unlike most living organisms, trees aren’t able to get up and move if the need arises. In many urban areas, some trees will eventually outgrow their allotted space. Unfortunately, most people are unaware that they don’t have to destroy a tree trapped in this predicament. RE-TREE now gives their previously-doomed tree a chance to move, survive and thrive.

Mature trees are irreplaceable, and provide plentiful ecological and sentimental value to people, communities and the earth.

  • A single mature tree can absorb about 50 pounds of carbon dioxide per year and release enough oxygen back into the air to support two human beings.
  • Trees reduce air pollution, prevent contaminated stormwater runoff from reaching our rivers/lakes and save homeowners substantial heating/cooling costs.
  • Trees enhance our well-being by reducing stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. This lowers blood pressure and improves our moods and attitudes.
  • The Japanese understand the many health benefits given to them by spending time in their mature forests. They actually bathe their mind and bodies in a form of ecotherapy called “shinrin-yoku,” which literally translates to “forest bath”!
  • Mature trees provide a shady, comfortable home and food source for many life forms.

When you transplant a tree, in most cases it will suffer what is known as “transplant shock.” Unfortunately, the bigger (and older) the tree is, the greater the shock. Therefore, minimizing this stressful shock is of paramount importance. The key element is to preserve as many roots as possible.

RE-TREE has developed a pioneering method to preserve the root mass on a mature tree about to be relocated. Instead of using the traditional mechanical equipment to cut through the soil and remove a tree, RETREE uses an innovative tool called an AirSpade which uses compressed air to carefully expose the all-important root system. This method allows RETREE to preserve and then capture much more of the fragile roots.

Vidosh and RE-TREE care about saving mature trees and preserving their value. She sums it up with a quote from a Senegalese forester; “In the end we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.”

(517) 545-5067
RE-TREE.ORG

Photo ©2021 by Bennie White

THE CITY OF OAK PARK HAS FIVE MOGO STATIONS and the numbers show that our community knows how to ride!

In 2020, Oak Park had the highest usage of any community in the surrounding area, with 1,667 trips taken. We hope our residents continue to utilize this service offered through the City’s partnership with MoGo.

For those looking to get on a MoGo bike and ride, the Oak Park stations are located at:

• West 11 Mile Rd. & Tyler St.

• Lincoln St. & Greenfield Rd.

• Coolidge Hwy. & Lincoln St.

• Oak Park Blvd. & Parklawn St.

• West Nine Mile Rd. & Manistee St.

To stay up-to-date on MoGo News, visit their website at mogodetroit.org or follow them on social media (@MoGoDetroit).

Photos ©2021 by Bennie White

THE Oak Park Water Tower Social District, on 11 Mile Rd., opened to the public in August and continues to offer opportunities for patrons to enjoy local businesses, both inside and out. The Social District welcomes those ages 21 and above to purchase from participating businesses to-go alcoholic beverages and enjoy them in the Commons Area.

HOURS OF OPERATION:

• Monday through Saturday: Noon-10:00 P.M.

• Sunday: Noon-6:00 P.M.

• Closed on holidays recognized by the City of Oak Park

PARTICIPATING BUSINESSES / EXPANDING SOON!

• Oak Park Social

• Dog & Pony Show Brewing

• Unexpected Craft Brewing Company

• Berkley Coffee

Social districts were created through a state initiative in 2020 with the hopes of spurring social and economic involvement in local communities. As the Water Tower Social District in Oak Park continues to experience its rebirth, this initiative will surely only help the businesses in that corridor grow while also helping to foster a deeper sense of community.

By Sara E. Teller

SHELL CLEANERS, ON COOLIDGE HIGHWAY, OPENED ITS DOORS ON MARCH 13, 1982. Narendra Patel, originally from India, had immigrated to the United States already with a college degree, but without speaking a word of English.

“My sister lived in Oak Park,” said Patel, which is why he chose to settle in the area. “I was looking for something to do here and the people were very nice.”

A laundromat seemed like a great option. Patel would be able to interact with many Oak Park residents and could learn English along the way. He also began to night school in Southfield after work. It wasn’t the easiest start, but he found his way, learning the language of his customers and eventually feeling at home.

“I was able to clean clothes for many customers and serve the city,” he said, which gave him great satisfaction.

Shell Cleaners served the city for 40 years and became an institution largely because Patel was known for doing great work at a reasonable price, which allowed his business to boom. He began to get to know many of his customers on a first-name basis and they would return to the the cleaners time-and-again for a quality job.

Patel was not only known for taking care of his customers’ clothing but serving them “always with a kind smile.” She added that he was such an integral part of the city that former U.S. Representative “Sander Levin wrote a letter to help bring [Patel’s] wife from India north of Bombay.” Eventually, the two were able to settle in the area together.

Patel enjoyed serving the people of Oak Park as much as they loved the work he did. They became more than just clients to him over the years. “They weren’t just customers, they were extended family to me,” he said.

YET NOW, AFTER ALL OF THOSE YEARS IN BUSINESS, Shell Cleaners has officially closed its doors. The pandemic has brought about many unforeseen changes and has hit small businesses especially hard. Unfortunately, small cleaners like Shell have been unable to obtain the same quality soap customers have come to expect and the prices of essentials such as poly bags and hangers have tripled. Because many professionals are working from home, they’ve transitioned from wearing business suits that need to be dry cleaned to more casual clothes.

All of these things affected Patel’s business. He tried to keep Shell afloat for as long as possible but there came a point that he had to make a very difficult decision. It was time to sell the building and close Shell’s doors.

“The Coronavirus has affected the whole country,” Patel said. “But it has very been hard on small businesses and their supply chains. I’m retired now but I wasn’t ready to.”

He said, “I miss the city. The city was my family.” He added he especially misses former and current Mayors Jerry Naftaly and Marian McClellan, respectively.

When asked what the future holds, Patel said he would like to eventually do something else but hasn’t decided what that is yet. Because of the pandemic and the continued difficulties small businesses face, “Right now, I’m just trying to take it easy,” he replied. Patel added he is no longer in Oak Park but may like to return someday.

Even though Shell has closed its doors, it will never be forgotten by all of the customers served over the four decades it was in business. Flynn said, “We are delighted he settled in Oak Park and wish him joy in his retirement.”

By Kerry Lark
Photos ©2021 by David McNair

A Community-Based Business Serving Oak Park for Over 30 Years

IT WAS A TYPICALLY GREY AND CHILLY NOVEMBER MORNING as I pulled into a parking lot on 9 Mile in Oak Park. I was coming to interview Dawn and Sam Barash; the owners of Wirelessunow, Inc, a local cell phone provider.

Dawn welcomed me with a sincere smile, a bottle of water and a plate of tasty food. Talk about a great first impression! She led me to their office where I met her husband Sam. I sat down and listened as they proudly shared their personal and business journey here in America.

Sam Barash emigrated here from Iraq in 1974 at 14-years-old with little more than the clothes on his back. He is a typical, hard-working immigrant, the type who made this country great. Sam believes that by combining hard work and determination anyone can succeed in America. He enrolled at Oak Park High School, determined to participate and remain active in his new community.

IN 1993, THIS DETERMINATION BECAME PARAMOUNT when they decided to become entrepreneurs selling pagers and beepers. Remember pagers and beepers? If you’re under 25, don’t bother answering that question! By 1995 there were over 60 million pagers in use worldwide.

However, they realized that cell phones would soon grow to replace pagers and beepers, so they quickly pivoted and expanded, also offering service, accessories and repair. Their son and daughter came on board to lend a helping hand managing the growing family business. They were so successful that by 2006 they were a Metro PCS Master Dealer.

In 2013, T Mobile bought Metro PCS, so they are now an authorized dealer for Metro by T Mobile. They are proud of the fact that as an essential business they remained open during the Covid pandemic, providing important service while protecting their customers.

DAWN AND SAM OFFER EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE on a wide range of products and services. Over the years they’ve seen it all, and able to help you when other companies have turned you away. Products include all types of smart devices and accessories, data transfer from old devices to new devices, educating customers on avoiding cyber attacks and scams, and assisting clients navigating the myriad of features available on new products.

Sam and Dawn believe strongly that their personal values carry over to their company, including:

• 100 percent honest customer service.

• Family-oriented.

• Dedicated to the Oak Park community.

• Always working hard for you!

The old saying that, “the only constant in life is change” has never been truer, especially in the rapidly-evolving technology and communications industry. So, if you are looking for great local wireless company, stop by and see Dawn and Sam at Wirelessunow. They will treat you like family and they have the experience and expertise to help you. Who knows, you may even get a plate of tasty food!

Wirelessunow Inc., 8980 West 9 Mile Rd, Oak Park MI 48237

(248) 582-2222 | wirelessunow@gmail.com

By Ryan R. Ennis

A Family-Friendly Business

NO MATTER HOW HANDY PROPERTY OWNERS MAY BE, plumbing problems will arise that require the skills of a professional.

Ready to tackle the challenges is Plumbing Techs of Michigan, a company owned and run by Scott Baxter. His Oak Park shop, located at 12700 Capital Street, services most of the Tri-County area. More recently, he has expanded his enterprise with the opening of a Wixom branch.

At Plumbing Techs, Baxter oversees daily operations, provides service estimates, and coordinates his employees’ scheduling and training. On lighter days, his staff begin their mornings driving to locations where water heaters, sump pumps, and garbage disposals need to be installed. On other occasions, their destinations put their high-level of expertise to use as they set about laying drains, water pipes, and gas lines for new construction and remodeling projects.

Baxter takes pride in being a second-generation tradesman. Following in his father’s footsteps, he began as a plumber’s apprentice until he received his journeyman license in 1982; two years later, he received his master plumber license. Following in Baxter’s footsteps, his son Shawn joined him in the trade four years ago and received his journeyman license last year.

IN 1996, BAXTER STARTED HIS COMPANY with only a used truck and his personal tools, determined to build a name for himself as a plumber with customer satisfaction as his top priority. Although his days are now kept busy managing staff and inventory, he remains committed to his original vision. A Madison Heights customer, John H., offers this testimony about Plumbing Techs: “You could not get a better end result for the money spent. I would recommend this company to anyone requiring major or minor repairs.”

As part of maintaining customer satisfaction, Baxter and his staff adhere to certain precautionary measures. During the onboarding process, Plumbing Techs employees participate in safety and MIOSHA (Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration) training. Whether arriving at a site to give an estimate or provide a service, they wear masks, booties, and gloves to protect themselves, their customers, and their customers’ properties.

Additional protective steps include the laying of tarps and other coverings to prevent damage to floors, appliances, and furniture. When the jobs involve excavation, Baxter contacts Miss Dig 811, a free utility safety notification service, whose markings of underground utility lines help Baxter and his plumber avoid potential dangers.

During a recent project, Baxter utilized safety checklists as his plumbers replaced a water piping system for a 16-unit condominium building dating back to the ’60s. The complicated task involved swapping out old large diameter mainline piping for a new supply system inside the property’s wall cavities.

What made the undertaking even more tricky was that the residents continued occupying their homes while the work was being done. Although they had to deal with some noise and inconvenience under the renovation, they couldn’t have been happier about the results: “The owners had not seen water pressure this good in many years,” says Baxter.

WHILE SOME MAJOR PLUMBING PROBLEMS SPRING UP UNEXPECTEDLY, others can be prevented with annual maintenance. To schedule the flushing of your hot water tank, the cleaning of your sewer lines, or other yearly procedures, call Plumbing Techs at 248-548-7488 or visit plumbingtechs.com. The website contains more information about the company’s extensive menu of services, including a listing of frequently asked questions for regular and prospective clients to peruse.

“We are a proud company,” says Baxter. “We give our customers fair pricing, timely scheduling, excellent workmanship, and a two-year guarantee on labor.”