Berkley Huntington Woods City Guide 2019

By Lisa Howard

GOOD THINGS TEND TO COME IN THREES, AND THE TRI-COMMUNITY COALITION IS NO EXCEPTION. It’s a nonprofit organization that aims to prevent substance abuse and improve mental health wellness in three cities — Berkley, Oak Park, and Huntington Woods — and its efforts are aimed at youth, adults, and the community at large. (Three again!)

Given the link between stress and risky behavior, it’s not surprising that Judy Rubin, the executive director of the Tri-Community Coalition, thinks it’s important to also focus on mental wellness. “Recently, we’ve found through data that our kids are really stressed,” Judy says, “So we offer mental-health wellness techniques in the hopes that we can prevent kids from possibly going down a substance abuse path.” Part of that assistance includes supporting the Y.O.U. (Young, Optimistic and United) programs at high schools in the Tri-Community area. The groups are student-run and very self-sufficient, but they can turn to the Coalition for guidance and financial support for their activities.

For parents, the Coalition offers Parent Now programs, covering topics like social media, bullying, depression, and how to recognize, avoid, and get out of toxic relationships. These programs are generally held at the Berkley Public Library, and although they’re primarily aimed at parents, anyone is welcome to attend. The Coalition also hosts programs specifically dealing with drugs, such as vaping, underage drinking, and marijuana use. “It’s about keeping parents apprised of what they should be looking out for and how to intervene constructively,” Judy says, adding that unfortunately, underage drinking is a problem with younger and younger kids these days — it’s become common in middle school, and it’s not unheard of even among fifth-graders. (The Coalition has become more active in middle schools as a direct result of this trend.) Vaping is also on the rise.

ONE OF THE TOOLS THE COALITION OFFERS to help parents and kids alike is free drug-testing kits, which Judy sees as a preventative rather than punitive tool. “A lot of times, parents and kids don’t know how to get out of peer-related sticky situations,” she says. “If a child is offered a drug, one way for them to get out of the situation is for the child to say,‘My parents have a drug kit.’ It gives kids an easy out from peer-pressure.” Parents are also given suggestions about how to have open and constructive conversations about drugs, as well as refusal skill tools they can pass on to their kids.

For the past two years, Coalition has hosted a health and wellness fair for the greater community in the spring, and also for the second year they are offering free Narcan-training sessions and nasal spray kits in an effort to address the opioid epidemic. They also support nationwide substance-abuse prevention efforts like National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, an event that aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs while also educating the general public about potential prescription abuse.

This year, the Coalition will be partnering with the Huntington Woods and Berkley Public Safety Departments for National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, October 26, from 10 A.M. until 2:00 P.M. During that time, everyone is encouraged to drop off any unused or expired drugs to the Berkley Public Safety Department. (Please no sharps or liquids.) As Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”

By Lisa Howard

SIXTEEN YEARS AGO, WHEN A LOCAL ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN FIRM was trying to decide where to plant its roots, they chose Berkley for a very practical reason: When all of the employees located their residence with a pushpin stuck into a map of Metro Detroit, Berkley was right smack in the middle.

In 2013, the firm joined Stantec, an international design firm that focuses on the “built environment” and works with projects ranging from architecture to wind power. The Berkley office is now part of a 22,000- employee global company and can count employees who have worked in Mexico, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, China, and Saskatchewa among their own ranks.

“Joining Stantec has meant that we’ve become the go-to office for work within the higher-education sector,” says Patrick Calhoun, one of Stantec’s senior associates. “If any office within the global company has a college or university project, it often comes to us.” In fact, he adds, you’d be hard-pressed to name a college or university in Michigan where Stantec hasn’t done a project. Wayne State? Check. Oakland University? Check. MSU? Check. And in Berkley itself, the firm did the work to renovate and upgrade the infrastructure throughout the entire K-12 school district, including converting the Tyndall Center into the District administrative offices.

ALONG WITH THEIR FOCUS ON EDUCATIONAL BUILDINGS, Stantec also works closely with municipal structures like libraries and city halls. The vast majority of these projects are renovations rather than building from scratch because so many clients have existing structures that were built to last. While most of those facilities are not registered historical buildings, Stantec does wind up with the occasional steeped- in-history project, like the recent work they did on the University of North Texas Dallas Law School — it’s housed in the old county building that held Lee Harvey Oswald, and parts of the building had to be kept as-is to maintain the historical record.

“What’s neat about these institutional projects — K-12, colleges, universities, municipal buildings — is that they’re buildings for the betterment of the communities they serve, and that has always meant a lot to us since day one,” says Patrick. “As architects and engineers we could do anything, but we choose to do these projects because they’re important and have meaning for society.”

THAT FOCUS ON COMMUNITY DOVETAILS with their quality statement as a company, which includes putting people first. That’s why Stantec hosts an annual Day-in- the-Community and Patrick served on the Board of Directors of the Berkley Area Chamber of Commerce for six years. Stantec was also one of the first businesses in the SOCCRA region to recycle.

For Patrick and his fellow employees, Berkley is an ideal place to be — many employees live within ten minutes of the office, plus Berkley offers a walk-able downtown and boasts various restaurants and shops that employees enjoy frequenting. It’s also not far from downtown Detroit, where Stantec has already worked on higher education projects. “With the resurgence of Detroit and its impact on the entire region, we’re thrilled to be where we are and doing what we’re doing right now,” says Patrick. “We’d like to expand our presence in affordable housing, mixed-use development, and healthcare — we see ourselves as the connector between amazing design experts and what’s needed in this region, whether that’s in Metro Detroit or the city of Detroit.”

By focusing on communities and institutional projects, Patrick says that Stantec’s goal is to create a lasting change in the community… and with the Berkley office being Stantec’s only architecture engineering office in Michigan, they’re well-positioned to do just that.

2338 Coolidge Hwy #100 Berkley MI 48072

By Sara E. Teller

WOODS, AND NORTH OAK PARK. Members include restaurants, retail stores, professional business services, real estate agents, financial, insurance, and legal services, education and health and wellness providers, non-profit organizations, auto care companies, home-based businesses, wedding service providers, salons, and more.

The Chamber and its members are dedicated to creating and sustaining a positive business climate by connecting with each other, local governments, and the community. Darlene Rothman, Executive Director, and RoseAnn Nicolai, Events & Operations Manager, have been with the Berkley Area Chamber since 2012.

“I’ve been the Executive Director for over seven years,” explained Rothman. “I was a Huntington Woods resident for over 27 years and was upset when the economy was affecting local businesses in Berkley. These businesses do a lot to support the community, and it was important for the community to support them during challenging times. When the job opportunity arose to work for the Berkley Area Chamber, I was excited to do what I could to help.”

Of her position, Nicolai said, “I have an event planning and association management company, and I have been a resident of Berkley since 1997. So, when an opportunity came up to work on events within the city where I live, I jumped at the opportunity. A year later the Chamber asked my company to take over the administrative tasks so Darlene could focus on recruiting new members and helping our current members.”

Understanding the importance of investing in local businesses, Nicolai added, “I believe having a thriving business community is an important component of making Berkley a great place to live. Local businesses are the ones who are more likely to donate to local causes and groups. They have an investment in the community. So, helping these businesses thrive is important.”

The Berkley Area Chamber is responsible for many fun, annual activities, some of which include:

THE BERKLEY ART BASH, the 2nd Saturday in June. Chaired by April McCrumb, owner of Catching Fireflies and Yellow Door Art, this fair attracts crowds of over RoseAnn Nicolai, Events 10,000 people who come to find hip handmade wares from over 150 artists and makers, listen to live music, eat great food, and participate in children’s activities.

THE BERKLEY STREET ART FEST, the second Saturday in July. Commissioned artists create murals on various spaces, and children and adults have the opportunity to create their own chalk art. Street performers and musicians are also there to entertain throughout the day.

THE BERKLEY PUB CRAWL, late August. This event highlights Berkley’s bars and restaurants.

THE STATE OF THE CITIES BREAKFAST, the 4th Friday in October. This event offers an opportunity for local government entities to report out to the community the accomplishments and issues from the past year as well as touch on what is forthcoming.

Rothman said, “As a team, we’ve increased the positive aspects of the community, so more [businesses] can grow and prosper. So many wonderful members go above and beyond to help create events, marketing concepts, and volunteer.”

The Chamber’s Board of Directors is grateful to all those who participate, companies and residents alike. Rothman said, “Most [members] are small business owners who do it all and still do what they can to help the greater good of the community. We have wonderful business owners, managers, and employees who create a warm and inviting atmosphere in Berkley and beyond.” She recognizes that residents also contribute to the Chamber’s mission, saying, “The residents are very loyal in supporting local businesses, which is what makes new businesses gravitate here. Strengthening downtown Berkley helps retain residents and attract new residents. Having the Berkley School District so strong is a major anchor to the entire mix. Public Safety makes sure the community is safe. It’s a win-win for all.”

The Berkley Area Chamber of Commerce offers Explore Berkley gift certificates to thirty local businesses, which can be purchased at and through the Berkley Education Foundation, Businesses and organizations can also join the Chamber and have access to all of its benefits by registering online. For more information, call 248.414.9157.

Story & Photos By Lisa Howard

BACK IN 1969, A LITTLE SHOP NAMED ALCO GLASS & MIRROR opened at the corner of 12 Mile and Griffith. From its initial beginnings, the shop began diversifying its offerings, expanding until it outgrew its first home and relocated to the corner of 12 Mile and Greenfield in 1991.

Today, the store boasts a large two-story showroom and deals in hundreds of textured glasses for all kinds of applications, from shower doors to tabletops to mirrors. Everything is custom-made, in many cases still by hand, and Alco can repair windows and screens that most shops won’t touch.

“We have a wide variety of customers, from first-time homeowners to 30-year homeowners looking to renovate or replace bathrooms and kitchens or just add some new accessories to their décor,” says Kim Daguanno, daughter of the original owner and the current office manager. “We have an extensive showroom of mirrors, home accent furniture, and kitchen and bath items. Plus, we carry personal items like jewelry and men’s products.”

AS ALCO CELEBRATES ITS 50TH ANNIVERSARY this year, the store continues to bring in more and more unique goods, up to and including baby items and furniture pieces. From its original glass-and-mirror roots, the store has also become a combination home décor and gift shop. Kim points especially to the home accent accessories as being their stand-out items. “There’s a lot to see here,” she says. “Coming into the store inspires people and gives them ideas on how to freshen up their homes.”

Alco is thrilled to be part of the current revival going on in Berkley, Kim says – not only do she and all of the other employees appreciate the support of the community and their customers, they also appreciate the support of their fellow independent businesses. “We now have a third generation here at Alco,” she says, “and we will continue to grow and add new products. We’re proud that our gift shop is one-of-a-kind.”

4195 12 Mile Rd, Berkley MI 48072 248-547-1214 | Open until 5:00 P.M.

Story & Photos By Lisa Howard

In 1934, the National Council of Jewish Women, Michigan opened the shop to raise funds for its community service projects and advocacy work. This year marks the store’s 85th anniversary of supporting its mission to improve the quality of lives by safeguarding individual rights and freedoms. “It’s a win/win situation,” says Liana Spiegel, marketing coordinator at the NCJW/MI offices. “By shopping or donating to council re|sale, you’re purchasing items at great prices as well as directly benefitting and supporting women, children, and families in need.”

The store collects donated high-end clothing by designers, as well as everyday casual clothes and shoes, and then sells them to their enthusiastic shoppers: DIY seekers, students, parents, seniors, busy professionals and anyone who appreciates a resale treasure trove. You’ll also find books and records in their library room and glassware, china, and appliances in their home accessories room.

TWICE A YEAR, COUNCIL RE|SALE has a showcase sale, at the end of August for the new fall/winter arrivals and another in time for spring/summer items. Throughout the months of November and December, shoppers also stumble into surprise sales. (Tip: Check the council re|sale Facebook page to find out about those surprises!)

The end of the year is also the time when the store has its donation drive, and the staff and volunteers are happy to accept donated items. If you’re thinking about revamping your wardrobe or redecorating your house, your gently used items could go to council re|sale to help build a stronger community and celebrate 85 years of serving those in need!

3297 12 Mile Rd, Berkley MI 48072 Open till 6:00 P.M. | 248-548-6664

By Sara E. Teller

MATT CHURCH HAS BEEN THE DIRECTOR OF THE BERKLEY PUBLIC LIBRARY since September 2013. It’s a position that has given him the opportunity to maximize the Library’s resources and connect with residents.

Church said, “It is a great honor to service the Berkley community through the Library. In the past several years I’ve worked with the Library team to expand our offerings in both collections and programming. We have seen an increase in circulation and program attendance. People view the Library as an essential hub in the community. As a Berkley resident, I am grateful to live and work in the same community.”

Contrary to what some may believe, he said the Library is still alive and well in the digital age. Church explains, “People sometimes ask if libraries are going away or if people even use the Library anymore. I encourage you to stop in to see for yourself the number of people using our space to study or work, utilize
our computers or connect to our Wi-Fi, or the groups of children checking out books from the youth room. This Library is active, alive, and thriving!”

BERKLEY’S SPACE REGULARLY TEAMS UP WITH THE BERKLEY AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, the Downtown Development Authority, Berkley First, the Tri-Community Coalition and more to offer a variety of activities for patrons. The Library has also collaborated with Berkley schools to ensure there are materials in their collection that support students’ curriculum needs.

“We now offer music concerts, evening story times, robotics workshops, and more,” Church said, adding that craft programs for teens and history lectures are also available. In late Fall, a Santa mailbox is placed out front, which Church said was “redesigned and repainted last year” by “one of Santa’s elves.”

Local business Vitrine Gallery & Gifts brings a different artist’s works into the Library each month. “This has been a fun partnership that highlights a local business while making our space more interesting and inviting,” Church said. The Library also has a robust online presence with downloadable books, audiobooks, comics, movies, television shows, and magazines. He added that the “usage of online services has doubled in the last five years.”

THE HUNTINGTON WOODS LIBRARY ALSO HAS A WEALTH OF FUN ACTIVITIES AND PROGRAMS planned for Fall 2019 and into 2020, according to Director/Adult Services Anne Hage, including an ongoing book discussion group, a social justice book group, adult coloring classes, knitting workshops, music classes, and more. Some events to be on the lookout for:

HERE COMES THE RAIN AGAIN! will be held October 19 and 26, 11:30 A.M., and allow patrons to design their own custom-painted umbrellas.

WRAPPED & BEADED SERVING PIECES will take place on November 16 and 23 at 11:30 A.M. and offer an opportunity to repurpose humdrum serving pieces into colorful works of art.

Just in time for the Christmas holiday, BOARD GAME ART VOLUME 2, to be held on December 14 from 11:30 A.M. to 1:30 P.M., will allow residents to design a handcrafted tic-tac-toe board using wood and decorative paper while sipping hot cocoa and sampling cookies.

All programs are sponsored by the Friends of the Library and are offered free of charge, although registration is recommended.

The Huntington Woods Library is also home to the well-known, one-of-a-kind Woods Gallery, which since 1984 has been a space for hundreds of area artists to share their diverse works of art with the community. The gallery’s mission is “to create opportunities for our community to experience a wide variety of creative arts for display and for sale.”

The origins date back to the founding of the Huntington Woods Art League in 1961. The League founded an annual art festival featuring both amateur and professional artists, and in 1984 they teamed with the Friends of the Library to sponsor Russell Keeter in a one-man exhibit in the basement’s Hardy Room. This exhibit inspired the development of the Woods Gallery in the same room, and the Library has showcased a rotation of artists on a continual basis ever since.

Unique services available with a Huntington Woods Library membership include the ability of patrons to use their card to access a collection of over 30,000 movies for free with Kanopy and the ability to receive discounted memberships, tickets, parking, and dining at many area venues through the TLN Tickets & More program.

For more information on all the services offered at the Huntington Woods Library, call 248-543- 9720 or contact Anne Hage at

By Sara E. Teller

VITRINE GALLERY & GIFTS OPENED IN DECEMBER 2017. The Berkley location was perfect because it included both a studio and retail space, according to owner Susan Rogal.

“We jumped on it,” she said. “Later, I would understand more fully the incredible sense of community in Berkley. I have been in retail for almost 40 years, and it’s rare to find men shoppers, couples shopping together, just happy shoppers. Every hour of every day there are lovely people in here.”

The name of the store is a French word meaning “a glass display case filled with treasures,” she explained, and it was inspired by a shabby chic antique hutch Rogal found with a glass front. This would also be incorporated into Vitrine’s logo.

In the retail space, shoppers can explore a multitude of treasures, including clothing, accessories, housewares, food, and other goodies made by artists and artisans. Vitrine also features garden accessories, handcrafted baskets, and a spa area with many handmade soaps and bath bombs. SERV, Ten Thousand Villages, and many others are on display, with products also available for purchase online.

ROGAL SAID, “THE STORE IS FOR LOCAL ARTISTS, artisans, potters, jewelers, and crafters. We feature many local artists and foods, soap artists, pens, and many other products each month. We have Wee Bee Jammin’ jams and Sanders Chocolates. The shop has also become the flagship store for Kari Hughes’ Buy the Change line. We have an art show once a month, and we also curate the art through the Berkley Public Library, which offers even more exposure.”

She added, “It’s really a trip around the world, and we bring in new stuff once a month. Our vegan handbag line has quite a following. We searched the world for a wonderful collection with phenomenal prices. Many people buy more than one!”

To add to the eclectic and one-of-a- kind ambiance, there is a door at the back that annexes to Holy Cannoli’s Bakery which fills Vitrine with incredible bakery smells and allows guests to experience both businesses at once. The studio also serves as Rogal’s workspace for her other endeavor, Artwear Detroit, a company that transfers local artwork onto items available at Vitrine and elsewhere. The company’s mission is to support regional artists and their contribution to Detroit’s legacy.

ROGAL BELIEVES IN A “DO GOOD, FEEL GOOD” mantra and remembers as a child her mother sponsoring children in developing countries through World Vision.

“She would always have their pictures on the wall and would refer to them as her other children,” she remembered fondly. “Now that she’s passed, I wanted to do something for her – offer a memorial gift – and I also wanted to do something extra to show how much we care. This became a very personal journey.”

She added, “We decided to have some of our profits go towards sponsoring six kids in Haiti, all from the same village. And, eventually the goal is to support ten. Doing it this way, we can extend our resources to the entire area, supporting healthcare, clean water, safety and education. It goes towards the whole community.”

Through Vitrine and Artwear Detroit, Rogal is truly able to exemplify her personal mission of giving back. “It’s my hope that as the world gets smaller with resources like the Internet we’ll all begin to realize we can make a difference.”

Vitrine is especially event-driven throughout the summer, participating in the Street Art Fest and hosting various pop-ups featuring a rotation of artists. Rogal said that Small Business Saturday, held on November 30, 2019, will also be an especially big day for all Berkley businesses.

For more information, visit Vitrine at 2758 Coolidge Hwy,, or call 248-629-7329.

Story By Ingrid Sjostrand | Photos By David McNair

People don’t usually think of “charitable” and “altruistic” as adjectives to describe their banking establishments, but Vibe Credit Union isn’t your typical financial institution. While most credit unions are run by members and qualify as non-profits, Vibe takes it a step further in caring for its members and the communities it serves. Allan McMorris, President, explains the philosophy behind the company.

“WE ARE A NOT-FOR-PROFIT FINANCIAL INSTITUTION, and we invest our profits back into our membership to provide convenient technology, better rates on loans and deposits, and more locations,” McMorris says. “We are in business to improve the financial lives of people in our communities.”

Community involvement is common at all 16 Vibe Credit Union branches and is essential to the company’s philosophy.

Linda Smith, Marketing Manager, explains Vibe’s commitment to the community. “We want to give back to the communities we serve,” Smith says. “We support over 100 local organizations each year and we offer financial education classes at local high schools.”

The charitable contributions of Vibe Credit Union extend past local branch involvement, too. There are two organizations they consider “Charities of Choice,” which receive ongoing contributions: The Salvation Army’s Bed & Bread Club and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN).

“We have been supporting the Bed & Bread Club since the 1980s when we welcomed them as a partner. We donate ten dollars for every member referral, and our staff has volunteered in their kitchen and on their food trucks,” Smith says. “We have been a top fundraiser for PanCAN PurpleStride fundraiser for many years. Because our employees have lost loved ones to pancreatic cancer, we enjoy holding fundraisers throughout the year to support PanCAN.”

Through longstanding relationships with charities and a commitment to being active in branch communities, Vibe Credit Union is constantly working to be the best for its members and its employees.

THE BERKLEY BRANCH, LOCATED AT 3082 COOLIDGE HWY., is one of Vibe’s busiest
branches. Tamara Powell, Berkley branch manager, serves as treasurer for the Berkley Chamber of Commerce – just one of the ways Vibe Credit Union takes community involvement to the next level.

“Our staff has enjoyed serving the Berkley community since 2007. Berkley’s friendly residents and business owners make this community a great place to do business,” Powell says. “We love participating in local festivals and programs like the Berkley Street Art Festival and the Berkley Library Summer Reading program.”

“WE ARE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR OPPORTUNITIES to add better products and services, as well as more branches, to better serve our members,” Smith says. “It is our goal to deliver an exceptional experience every time we connect with our members. Vibe is also a great place to work. We have a company culture that values, respects, and celebrates each team member.”

First established in 1936 as the Telephone Employees Credit Union with just ten employees, the company grew over the next 77 years and changed its name to Vibe Credit Union in 2013 to honor the “sound waves of the past.”

“Anyone living or working in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan is now eligible to become a member of Vibe Credit Union. In 2018, we partnered with Oakland County Credit Union, which was founded in 1953 as Oakland County Employees Credit Union,” McMorris says. “Over 83 years, our assets have grown from a humble $100 to nearly $1 billion. We now serve over 65,000 members with 14 branch locations and two ‘eCenters’ in Metro Detroit.”

Vibe Credit Union’s two eCenters are located in the busy downtown development districts of Ferndale and Royal Oak. Although eCenters don’t have traditional tellers, Vibe staff is onsite to assist people with opening accounts, applying for loans, and using the multi-functional ATM.

3082 Coolidge Hwy, Berkley MI 48072 (248) 735-9500

Mon-Thur 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM Fri 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Sat 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM

By Ingrid Sjostrand

Some wouldn’t think of Berkley as the go-to place for brides-to-be, but two of Metro Detroit’s top wedding shops are located within the city’s 2.62-square-mile radius and both offer a unique, customer-focused experience for their brides.


ACCOMMODATING A BRIDE’S NEEDS was the number one priority for Michelle McFarland when she opened The Wedding Shoppe in 1999. Recently married herself and a full-time employee at the headquarters of a German steel company in Detroit, she saw first- hand how inconvenient planning a wedding could be for a working woman.

“I worked long hours and would get stuck in rush-hour traffic. By the time I got home everything was closed. I ended up having to do everything on Saturdays because stores were closed Sunday too,” she says. “One thing that was really important in opening my store was being available to brides. Right now, we’re open seven days a week to accommodate their needs.”

Flexible hours were just the first step in putting the bride’s needs first. McFarland expanded from accessories to dresses in 2008 and hired twelve expert stylists to help create the perfect experience for her clients.

“Everything in our store is hand-selected. We work with design houses from all over the world and we bring wedding dresses to the U.S. that aren’t available here,” she says. “We are a high-volume store that focuses on giving the bride an intimate experience.”

WHEN THE WEDDING SHOPPE relocated from Woodward Ave. to 2186 Coolidge Hwy., McFarland took it a step further by creating the “Private Viewing Experience™” – nine custom-built, private bridal suites to allow an intimate experience for brides-to-be and their families.

“Brides get their own suite to enjoy their experience with a stylist. They might have an idea of what to try on and what style they like but until you put a dress on your body you have no idea what is going to look good,” McFarland says. “Our stylists are trained to listen to the words you are saying, and also the words you are not saying, to help you choose the perfect dress.”

After nearly 20 years of successful business, McFarland gives credit to her team of stylists, seamstresses, receiving, administration and all those that have helped The Wedding Shoppe succeed.

“I truly, honestly believe it centers around the people we hire and select to be on our team. Without them, there is nothing. Without the stylists being as amazing as they are, brides would not want to come here,” McFarland says.


JENNA EL-ZAATARI IS INNOVATING THE BRIDAL INDUSTRY. With experience in both production and retail, she and her team are designing wedding dresses that are unique and different from what is prevalent in the US market.

First introduced to the wedding industry at age 21 by her mother-in- law, a gown designer and store owner in Lebanon, El-Zaatari was inspired to make her own mark in bridal fashion.

By 2012 she established Jenna in White, located at 2685 Coolidge Hwy. since 2014, and launched her Jenna in White line.

“This line is our own, unique, and is not available anywhere else in the US. We also carry other designer lines such as Casablanca, Amaré, and Sophia Tolli,” El-Zaatari says. “When the bride comes into our store it’s all about her; we strive for magic for the bride and the family.”

El-Zaatari and her staff have worked to take the stress out of shopping for a wedding dress and create an environment for great memories.

“We are very upbeat in the way we operate. The vibe is always exciting and fun,” El-Zaatari says. “Our entire team functions in accordance with that, to make sure the bride finds the dress she loves while simultaneously having an amazing experience.”

THIS ATMOSPHERE EXTENDS beyond just the store. Jenna in White has made it a priority to be a part of the community, even working with radio station Channel 95.5 FM to do regular dress giveaways with Shannon Murphy of Mojo in the Morning, and has collaborated with the Berkley Chamber of Commerce as well.

“We share elements of that experience with the community, so it’s really more about creating a bridal culture,” El-Zaatari says. “Metro Detroit is a very vibrant area, and the whole process becomes not only about us but about the entire culture and community.”

“I love being part of every bride’s shopping; It’s very rewarding,” she says. “I take every single bride’s experience very personally.”

Story & Photos By Lisa Howard

TEN YEARS AGO, A SMALL SHOP CALLED BERKLEY EYEWEAR opened on Coolidge near Wiltshire. Lisa Gilbert was the driving force behind the store – she had worked in the optometry field for nearly three decades – but, soon after, her husband Andy found himself working there, too.

Seeing as his dad, cousin, and brother-in-law are optometrists, it wasn’t a stretch for him to join the family trend. The couple opened a separate shop called Local Sunglass Company just down the street by Dorothea to also offer sunglasses, and eventually they built out the second location and merged the two arms of their business. Today, they offer eye exams as well as a carefully curated collection of glasses and sunglasses.

“We can’t be everything to everybody, but we try to be everything we can to the local community,” Andy says. He and Lisa focus on offering high- quality lenses and frames for reasonable prices whether people have vision insurance or not. Unlike many of the bargain-basement glasses you find at big-box stores, at Berkley Eyewear their lenses are made with a protective scratch- resistant coating that makes them much more durable.

And Lisa is always on the lookout for stylish frames. “There are also big differences between single-vision lenses and progressive-lens technology,” Andy explains. “For one thing, you don’t see a line with high-quality, progressive lenses.”

As he and Lisa have tailored their collection over the years to suit their customers’ needs, they’ve come to specialize in frames for petite women. Andy points out that it can be difficult for small- framed women to find glasses that fit well and are age-appropriate. “They don’t want to have to shop in the kids section and wind up with glasses that don’t quite fit and aren’t the kind of patterns or colors they want,” he says. While bright blue frames with lime-green dots might be fun for kids to wear, it isn’t exactly a flattering look for an upscale night out on the town. Likewise, if you’re a man who finds himself shopping in the big-and- tall section, the standard glasses selection might not work for you, either.

NO MATTER WHAT KIND OF STYLE YOU’RE LOOKING FOR, you’ll find glasses ranging from $90 to $450. “Our meat-and-potatoes is within the $150 to $200 range because that’s a reasonable amount for a pair of good-quality, fashionable frames,” says Andy.

Their eye exams are equally reasonable – for those without insurance and paying in cash, an eyeglasses exam is $65 and an exam for contacts is $95. Either way, the exam includes looking at the eye health of the patient. A lot of people don’t realize it, but regular eye exams are greatly beneficial because optometrists can spot a lot of chronic problems early on (diabetes, high blood pressure), when it’s much easier to manage or correct the issue. Another bonus? Rather than using the dreaded “puff test,” the optometrist uses a tonometer to check for glaucoma.

ALONG WITH RUNNING THE SHOP WITH LISA, Andy is involved in many other aspects of Berkley life, from serving on the DDA Board and marketing committee to sponsoring the Berkley Street Art Fest. Andy thinks the art fest in particular has been an exciting event. It began in 2017 on Dorothea in the municipal lot right behind Andy and Lisa’s shop and then expanded onto Coolidge the following year, drawing several thousand attendees in the process.

“I still remember the first year the fest happened,” Andy recalls. “I walked out of my back door and saw people milling around and making and admiring art, and I just thought it was fantastic!” One attendee he talked to that day said that he had lived in Berkley for 20 years but had never noticed Berkley Eyewear before. A few weeks later, that same person became a customer. As Andy sees it, that’s the whole point of having events like the Street Art Fest: To introduce people to the shops along Coolidge.

After the Street Art Fest was established Andy rejoined the Berkley Area Chamber, and it’s also why he now participates in various other civic organizations in the city, too. He advises business owners and residents alike to get involved – it’s a fun way to help the city grow.

ASIDE FROM ATTRACTING MORE CUSTOMERS, another bonus of having a big annual event on Coolidge is the increased interactions between near-by business owners, from newcomers like Ullman’s Health & Beauty and Toadvine Books to established merchants like Nova Chiropractic. “The Street Art Fest has brought together businesses who may not have otherwise interacted much, especially as the event keeps growing and getting bigger and better,” says Andy.

That, plus increased support from the Chamber and the DDA, has led to a feeling of positive momentum along the Coolidge corridor, with several businesses using the DDA grant façade program to renovate and improve their storefronts (Andy is one; he’s hoping to get his new look before it snows). Ongoing regular events like Ladies Night Out also create buzz and lead to long-term customers.

“At the end of the day, Berkley is a fun little town,” says Andy, adding that he’s seen the area go from not exactly bustling when he opened in 2010 to now being one of the focal shopping districts in the city. “I like hanging out right smack in the middle of Coolidge – it feels like everybody is friends.”


2680 Coolidge Hwy, Berkley
(248) 629-6410
Monday – Friday: 10 AM – 6 PM Saturday: 11 AM – 4 PM
Sundays: Closed