Just over a year ago, people were abruptly separated from the people and things they hold dear. Hugs and kisses were withheld. School, proms, graduations, weddings and vacations were altered, postponed or cancelled. Beloved stores, restaurants and other businesses were shuttered. People retreated to their homes. No more visits to family, lunch with coworkers, evenings with friends. Clients were no longer in salons and barber shops, chatting with their favorite stylists. Restaurant owners and servers wondered if they’d ever see their regulars again. Businesses wondered if their patrons would return. Very quickly, the pandemic became about survival in all shapes and forms.
It’s been a year since COVID-19 hit - and things are starting to look up. Restrictions are easing. Businesses are re-opening. And you only have to look to Mount Clemens, the county seat, to witness the tenacity of the human spirit and American entrepreneurship. According to Michelle Weiss, the Marketing and Events Coordinator for the Mount Clemens Downtown Development Authority (DDA), in the last year, the city has not lost a single business during this crisis. Not only that, Michelle reports that many new businesses have opened or are opening soon during this time. Where other cities have barely held on, Mount Clemens is not only surviving, but growing.
What’s behind the strength of the businesses that have been in Mount Clemens for decades? And what’s drawing the new ones in? Very simply - it’s relationships. The effects of this pandemic have highlighted the importance of relationships, not only with our friends and families, but with the businesses we frequent. Mount Clemens isn’t a place where you will find a lot of big box stores. It’s filled with smaller ‘mom and pop’ type places. Most of these businesses are owned and managed by people from the area, people who are engaged with and invested in the people and the community. They know their clients and customers by name. They know your favorite table, your favorite drinks. They ask after your family. They can tell you about the latest product or service, because they know what you like, and what you want. Currently, you’ll find a wide variety of establishments – pubs, restaurants, bakeries, pastry, coffee and gift shops, music stores, booksellers, crafting collaboratives (like Pinterest come to life!), art centers, creative classes, yoga and photographic studios, and even a gorgeous, historic theater that is used for multiple events, including weddings – within blocks of one another. These businesses open their arms and embrace the community events: the ice carving shows, the ladies’ nights, holiday and family events, and farmers markets. There are music festivals and art shows that regularly take place in front of, around and in between these long-standing family owned businesses. It’s a vibrant community, of the goldilocks type - big enough to cater to all types and tastes, and small enough to feel like home.
It’s attractive enough that there are many new businesses coming into the fold, eager to take their place among the stalwarts. The Cake Experience on Cherry Street opened recently and sold out of their baked goods on their first day. Of course, they are busy baking more custom cakes. You can visit their Facebook page for photos of their edible art. They are accepting orders for custom cakes into April already. Cellar 104 Boutique Winery on Macomb Place is also open. Opening soon will be the Black Cat Coffee Shop and Clementine’s Pastries, both on Macomb Place. The Discovery Center Children’s Museum on Cherry Street is opening in April. Many of these new businesses have Facebook pages and are working on developing their websites. For a complete directory of what downtown Mount Clemens has to offer, please click here. Small Business Week is May 2 to May 8 this year, but don’t wait until then to enjoy the lovely spring weather at any of the new, and not so new, establishments.
- The Cake Experience - 58 Cherry Street - edible art! Custom cakes
- Katie Anton Photography - 65 N. Walnut Street - Professional photography services
- Cellar 104 Boutique Winery - 104 Macomb Place - World Varietal Winery
- Deep Cuts Barbershop - 81 Macomb Place - Professional grooming services
- Du-All Art Supply 33 Crocker Blvd. Art & Graphic Supplies - Art and drafting supplies, framing services
- Black Cat Coffee Shop - 55 Macomb Place - Coffee house
- JK Millworks 122 S. Main Street - Custom Woodworking
- New Age Cafe 143 N. Main Street - Asian cuisine (relocating from Clinton Township!)
- Bohemian Goat - 69 North Walnut - Refinished furniture, functional art, custom blended teas, home goods, handcrafted jewelry, soaps, essential oils and more.
- The Discovery Center - 48 - 54 Cherry Street - Interactive Children’s Museum
- Cellar 104 - 104 Macomb Place - Boutique Winery
- Hope Deli - 75 North Main - A not-for-profit deli
While their goods and services are varied, they share one thing in common - their interest in the community and especially, their interest in you. Enjoy, and if you have a moment, let us know which of these downtown establishments you frequent, and what draws you there.
Wendy Smith is a team coordinator for Macomb County Human Resources and Labor Relations.