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Arena transformation is a game-changer for Muskegon Lumberjacks, community

Mercy Health Arena-Muskegon Lumberjacks

When the capacity crowd at Mercy Health Arena (formerly L.C. Walker Arena) celebrates a Muskegon Lumberjacks goal by yelling “You got Jacked,” it’s a fun taunt at the opposing goalie.

But it’s equally appropriate as a measure of excitement felt by the thousands of fans providing a home-ice advantage for Michigan’s only United States Hockey League team.

With a $2.7 million renovation and elite hockey talent – the Lumberjacks have had 18 NHL draft picks and 51 players earn college scholarships in just the last 5 years – the hockey and the social experience has changed from preconceived perceptions, said Mike McCall, the Lumberjacks president.

“Our number one goal is to make sure we created something for everyone,” McCall said. “When you come into this building, there’s a wow factor, there’s a vibe and there’s a sense of fun. We’re grateful to have the opportunity to present that night in and night out.

“(The renovation) is helping to revive the downtown. The Muskegon area is growing. The vibe in the whole community is improving. There’s a new sense of pride and we want to be one of those helping lead that.”

The project was unveiled in late 2018, and this will be the first full season for fans to experience the team’s 30 home dates that stretch into April. The upgrades include a new and improved concourse area, suite boxes, club and lodge seating, and the creation of a party platform that includes a beer garden, bar and open-air and interactive kids’ zone.

The new concourse design keeps fans inside the arena rather than leaving the seating area and into a closed off hallway. The work brings concessions to the inside and is transformative.

“The great thing about this openness that we created in the arena is that it’s really created a social environment. People can walk around, and they can see the game, they can see their friends, they can see their kids. It’s really one big party.

“You can grab a beer or a hot dog and still watch the game. You are right on top of the action. There’s no better place to watch a hockey game.”

Attendance was up 20 percent last year despite a reduction in the number of seats, McCall said, and that shows people are responding to the changes.

The USHL took notice too, honoring the Lumberjacks with the 2019 “Organization of the Year” award.

“Our goal is to win it again this year and the next year,” McCall said. “We want to continue to be the best team in this league.”

Muskegon LumberjacksThe Lumberjacks, who feature players ages 17 to 20 on the development track to major college or professional hockey, are a community experience and attribute, McCall said. With the majority of the team’s games on Friday or Saturday nights, the setting is ideal for families, business or group outings or just getting friends together.

“Coming to a Lumberjacks game is a release,” he said. “You’re going to yell, you’re going to scream, and you’re going to cheer. You’re going to see people you know, have some food and beverages and just have a great time.”

That is exactly the atmosphere that Andrea Sponaas has witnessed.

“If there’s one thing that’s been consistent, it’s been the jaw-drop (from people) as soon as they walk in,” said Sponaas, the vice president of corporate partnerships for the team. “You can tell the people who have not been here since the renovations. It’s awestruck. It’s ‘Oh, my gosh, this is fantastic.’”

Lumberjacks games are safe, clean, affordable and convenient, Sponaas said, and the team’s leaders wants to keep the momentum going.

“We’re making sure we’re bringing in new fans and exposing them to how great this league is and exposing them to the atmosphere that we’ve built,” said Sponaas, who was with the team 10 years ago when it launched in Muskegon.

“The Muskegon Lumberjacks of today are an entirely different experience. If folks haven’t been to the game recently, experienced the arena changes, I think they’re really missing out.”

On the hockey side, Lumberjacks Head Coach Mike Hamilton said fans can expect 100 percent effort and an exciting, active style of play. The USHL is the highest level of junior hockey in the country, he said. Prospects come from around the world to play in the league. The players have moved away from their homes – in some cases their countries – to pursue their dreams.

“Everyone who plays youth hockey, this is their goal,” he said. “Every night they’re being evaluated, not just by us, but if you look around, there are NHL and college scouts. The dream starts here.”

“They make a huge commitment just to be here and develop into the best hockey players they can be, but they recognize that they’re here to be part of the community. Muskegon is invested in them and their actions on and off the ice reflect on Muskegon. We win together.”

Visit the Lumberjacks website to find the team’s schedule and learn more about Muskegon’s team.

Clothing every man should have in his closet for a complete wardrobe

shirts hanging in a closet

There comes a point in every man’s life when it’s time to embrace being an adult and move the crusty old concert T-shirts, the weekend golf polo, the cargo pants and that 11-year-old button down to the back of the closet.

Sure, break them out when you’re feeling nostalgic or they serve a particular need, but don’t sport them when you want to dress to impress.

That doesn’t mean guys need to go on a shopping spree that will bust the bank, and it doesn’t require guys to go “fashion forward” or out of a general comfort zone. There is a way to stick to your style and look sharp while working with the basic guidelines on the essentials for your closet.

Here’s what to start shopping for:

A classic suit in charcoal, black or navy

  • Choose a solid color or a pattern that will stand the test of time, making this suit the correct choice for any need, such as job interviews or special events that include weddings and funerals. It’s a can’t-go-wrong option.

4 coordinated dress shirts

  • A basic white, two color-coordinated shirts and a pattern that matches the suit, giving guys the flexibility to alter the appearance while still keeping it simple.

2 ties

  • Two ties will provide the same versatility that you seek when you vary your shirt selection. Make sure that the ties can be worn with at least two of the above dress shirts.

A sport coat or blazer

  • A quality sport coat or blazer balances your style for a dressed-up look that doesn’t require a full suit. Again, it’s important to match this piece of clothing with your shirts and ties, keeping your look consistent, yet different.

2 pairs dress pants

  • These will work with your sport coat or for even less formal occasions with one of your dress shirts or a sweater are appropriate.

A pair of dress khakis

  • Simple, understand and classic khakis are standard wear that will serve you for years.

Three sport shirts

  • As with everything else, these pieces should tie back into the group, providing value and extending the diversity of your wardrobe.

One dress sweater and one causal sweater/quarter zip

  • These are for layering over shirts.

A nice pair of jeans

  • This pair of jeans could become your favorite, but they’re not for days on the couch or working outside. Restrict them only for a relaxed look and pair with the sport coat when appropriate.

A dress belt

  • This accessory, like the jeans, are for use only when wearing the suit or blazer. A belt will last for years if you don’t wear it out with everyday wear.

Two casual belts, one black and one brown

  • Here are your everyday belts.

Black dress shoes

  • Bulletproof, quality dress shoes are a must to round-out your suit for formal occasions.

Brown business casual shoes

  • These complement your outfit for dress or casual events.

This is a no-nonsense approach to updating your closet and feeling good about the way you look in every imaginable scenario. There is variety, but also consistency that makes many of the pieces interchangeable.

As always Libin’s experts are happy to lend their decades of experience in outfitting men to look their best. Stop in and talk to our team when you’re ready to update your clothing with the indispensable elements of style.

2020 prom tuxedos: Trends, tips and where to go to get it right

teens in tuxedo for prom

The words comfort and performance generally aren’t adjectives used when it comes to describing tuxedos, but that’s changing this spring.

The Michael Kors Legacy Performance Tuxedo has altered the landscape by pairing its unique CoolMax stretch fabric with Sorona to provide maximum flexibility on the dance floor while stopping sweat from slowing you down, said Brenda Pierce.

“The tux is so breathable that it is going to be a big hit,” said Pierce, who manages Libin’s, the Kalamazoo-area shop that specializes in prom tuxedo rentals for Southwest Michigan. “It’s a different feel and a different level of comfort than anyone is used to.”

Pierce and the expert staff at Libin’s have helped high school students find the right outfit for their prom adventures for years. With prom season right around the corner, it’s prime time for juniors and seniors to start thinking about their threads for the big night.

The jacket’s side-vented trim and tapered styling, satin notch lapel and satin double besom pockets complement the traditional look, likely making it the most popular tuxedo for 2020.

Other 2020 rental tuxedo trends include floral patterned bow and long ties as well as passing up the normal leather loafer for the purchase of a slip-on sparkle shoe that shines on its own.

Teens renting their first prom tuxedo or those looking to try something new can take the advice and expertise of Libin’s fitters by getting a complete tuxedo package that starts at $99 through May 16.

Here are other tips from the experts at Libin’s:

Don’t wait

Teens are notorious for procrastinating, but this is one time that students should think ahead to avoid a last-minute scramble. Selection and sizes of tuxedos can vary – and do occasionally sell-out – so it’s best to get fitted and place an order at least a month in advance of the prom date.

The right tuxedo for teens

There are four keys:

  • The appropriate size and fit: No matter how sharp the look, it falls apart if the fit isn’t right. Big and baggy doesn’t work with tuxedos and a slim-fit isn’t for everyone. Take advantage of experts for measurements and their advice on what to wear.
  • Match your partner: The night is too important to chance that your tuxedo and its accessories are a color shade off your prom date’s dress. To get the perfect match, bring the dress or a swatch of the fabric to Libin’s.
  • Stay consistent and true to your style: Prom night should be relaxing and there should not be any anxiety about trying to pull off a different fashion. Your tuxedo should be a style that complements you.
  • When in doubt, a traditional look always wins the night: You simply can’t go wrong with a classic black tuxedo.

Other styles

There are tuxedo trends that give guys the ability to stand out from the crowd and make their mark with a different look. One emerging direction are paisley print jackets from Mark of Distinction tuxedos. Teens who opt for the cobalt blue, apple red or granite designs will standout when pairing the coats with black pants.

Another bold look is from Kenneth Cole, which is offering its burgundy tuxedo jacket for pairing with black tuxedo pants. This comes in an ultra slim fit and has a two-button closure and a front welt pocket if the wearer wants to add a pocket square.

The safe bet

As previously mentioned, the traditional black and white tuxedo goes with anything. Teens are always safe with this choice, and it will match any formalwear dates choose for the prom. Again, it’s about the appropriate fit and Libin’s professional staff can help you get the right style and make sure it is fits properly.

Accessories

Pairing the look of your tuxedo jacket and pants with the other elements of your prom night comes down to a mix of personal preference, natural design fit and what your date is wearing. This is another spot to use the consultation from a Libin’s expert.

  • Shirts and ties: Wing collars and laydown collars are standard. If you’re wearing a long tie, there’s no decision to make as it is always worn with a lay down collar. A bow tie can accessorize either shirt style, and the decision comes down to your comfort level.
  • Vests: The no-exception rule is to have this selection match your jacket and/or your date’s colors.
  • Shoes: Unless opting for the sparkle shoe, the key is to not break tradition. Shiny black patent leather or tan footwear also works with any black, grey or navy tuxedo. A white tuxedo requires a white shoe.

For more information, read more at Libin’s website, visit at 1028 East Cork Street or call (269) 381-0746.

Ready for spring? Kick start the season during Traverse City Wellness Month

Traverse City Wellness Month - spa

No doubt, winter in Michigan can be a beautiful time of year. But the cold and snow season also can feel so dark and dreary, making us just want to hole up indoors like a bear in hibernation. In the winter we tend to eat more and do less. No wonder it’s the unhealthiest season of the year!

Well, now winter is coming to an end. Finally! And that means it’s time for us to spring into action and get healthy.

Spring brings longer days, giving us more time to be outdoors. More time to enjoy the natural beauty all around us. More time to re-engage the outside world and be social. And guess what? More sunshine. Get ready for a healthy dose of Vitamin D!

Seriously, we should make our New Year’s resolutions in the spring, not in the middle of winter. That’s why many places to stay in Traverse City are teaming up to offer special Wellness Month packages during April. In addition to discounts at participating hotels and resorts, you’ll get a package of coupons for deals on everything from massage and yoga to chiropractic screenings and healthy dinners. Plus, you’ll get a free bag of delicious Lulu Fuel Granola!

How are you going to break out of the winter doldrums and make the most of Michigan’s spring this year? Here are just a few ways you can kick-start the season on a trip to Traverse City during Wellness Month:

Traverse City Wellness Month - yogaNestled in a gorgeous setting high above the bay near the tip of Old Mission Peninsula, Chateau Chantal is one of Traverse City’s most iconic wineries. During Wellness Month, the winery will also be a yoga haven. Come stay at Chateau Chantal’s B&B from April 17-19 for the Weekend Yoga Retreat. You can unwind with private yoga sessions, wonderful wines, delicious dinners and downtown shopping.

If you can’t make it to the yoga retreat that weekend, no problem. When you stay at a participating hotel, your Traverse City Wellness Package includes coupons to Yen Yoga & Fitness that you can use any time during April.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National LakeshoreSpring is a great time to visit Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. It will feel like your own slice of paradise to immerse yourself in America’s Most Beautiful Place before summer crowds arrive.

You can let the lake breeze wash over you as you walk the beach and come face to face with returning migratory water birds like the cute little piping plover. Maybe you’ll even find a coveted Petoskey stone. In recognition of Wellness Month, admission to the park is free on Saturday, April 18.

When you stay at a participating hotel, your Traverse City Wellness Package includes deals on massage at Living Light, free lotions from Great Lakes Bath & Body and a free stress relief roller ball from Old Mission Lavender. Those are just a few of the luxury spas and salons in Traverse City where you can relax in style.

Traverse City Wellness Month - hot stone massageHave you ever taken a hot mineral bath? Enjoyed a cherry-scented paraffin manicure or a massage with oven-warmed stones? They’re all great ways to get your body and your emotional health in sync for the seasons to come. Another way: Take advantage of Relax and Recharge packages at Grand Traverse Resort & Spa.

Speaking of relaxing and recharging, Grand Traverse Resort & Spa is teaming with Black Star Farms on a VIP Wine & Spa Weekend April 10-11. Perfect for couples or for a girls’ weekend, the event combines resort lodging with a behind-the-scenes wine tasting tour, spa treatment and healthy breakfasts each morning.

Traverse City area WineryIn fact, throughout Wellness Month there are wine and cheese tastings, special happy hours and other wine-themed activities happening all over Traverse City.

Open your mind to the historic wisdom of Tibet when the Loseling Monks perform a one-of-a-kind show on Friday, April 17, at the Dennos Museum Center on the campus of Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City. Through the mystical and sacred arts of ancient music and dance, you’ll broaden your awareness of Tibetan civilization and contribute to world peace by supporting Tibetan refugees in India. Tibetan Loseling Monks perform a one-of-a-kind show

Special events to nurture your mind and spirit are planned throughout Wellness Month.

With most of winter’s snow melting away by April, the chance returns to lace up your running shoes and get outside. What better way to pick up the pace than to take part in northern Michigan’s premier celebration of off-road running?

runners in the Traverse City areaThe Traverse City Trail Running Festival at Timber Ridge on April 24-25 features a two-person adult 10k relay on Friday, with individual 10k, 25k and 50k runs on Saturday. Plus, there’s a free race for kids, too!

Wellness Month isn’t just about your physical, emotional and spiritual health. It’s also about the health of your relationships! Isn’t it time for a girls’ weekend? Or, how about an intimate getaway, just the two of you? Traverse City Wellness Month couple getaway vacation

Grand Traverse Resort & Spa is offering Carefree Getaway and Do Not Disturb deals during Wellness Month. Or, get the girls together and live it up during a wine weekend in Traverse City.

Let’s not forget to treat your body well with delicious, healthy food. When you stay at a participating hotel, your Traverse City Wellness Package includes the option of a $50 dinner for two featuring an appetizer, two entrees and two desserts. Delivery is free to many area hotels. Or, you can head out to any of the dozens of incredible restaurants in Traverse City that serve healthy, locally-sourced food.

We haven’t even mentioned the free guided group meditation, free eco-fin foot treatment or discounted chiropractic screening at Jovia Wellness that comes with your Traverse City Wellness Package, when you stay at a participating hotel. Or the beautiful northern Michigan golf you can play in the spring. Or the guided walking tours of the largest historical renovation project in the Western Hemisphere.

There are so many ways to get your wellness in gear this spring in Traverse City. Start here and customize a visit that will put winter behind you for good and really get things on track for a healthy 2020!

Where snowsports survive until April, and then weather gives way to waterfalls

After eyeballing sparse seasonal snowfall totals across the Lower Peninsula, Kyle Lafrinere steps outside his office and assesses the crowd at Marquette Mountain, where guests are hitting the hills, riding the terrain park rails and heading out for some backcountry skiing.

“We definitely haven’t had that problem here,” Lafrinere said, with a bit of a laugh, referring to the accumulation of snow elsewhere in Michigan. “We’re using all natural snow, better snow than what the machines make. But we’ve upgraded our snowmaking infrastructure, so when we need it, we’ll have it. New snow guns, new pump system, those will keep us going (later than most ski areas).”

Marquette Mountain opened in mid-November and Lafrinere expects that it will remain open until mid-April, making it a prime attraction for ski-deprived snow-seekers across Michigan. Snowfall is down in Michigan except for the Upper Peninsula, and as usual, winter will last longer in Marquette, providing an outlet for fatbikers, snowshoers and snowmobilers who have been stymied by the lack of storms. Marquette in winter

“If you’re looking to get outside, there’s no better place than Marquette in the winter,” Lafrinere said. “We’ve got everything that you want to do in the area. There’s a lot of variety for skiers of all abilities here to enjoy themselves.

“Plus, there are all sorts of options for people who want to do other activities. It’s pretty amazing to have a spot where you can do it all.”

Here’s a rundown of what to experience in Marquette, including a primer on where to grab brunch to fuel your adventures:

Noquemanon Trail Network

skiing in Marquette, MI

The all-purpose 50K trail system with point to point journeys or looped adventures can be used for snowshoeing, hiking and cross-country skiing. The fast trail features flowy terrain, steep descents and large bermed turns at different points on outings. Ski and snowshoe rentals are available at the Forestville Trailhead, which is popular among first time visitors. Users on foot or snowshoe should avoid trails that are groomed for skiing. Dogs are welcome, on-leash, on many of the trail routes.

Winter Hiking

Trails up Sugarloaf Mountain and Blueberry Ridge remain popular in the winter.  Snow-covered views of the Marquette region and its features are breath-taking. The half-mile trail will be slower-going with snow, but the terrain is manageable for people of all fitness and skill levels. The city’s 12-mile multi-use trail is another great option to get those steps in. The Eben Ice Caves, Yellow Dog Falls and Hogsback Mountain are other potential outings.

Fatbiking

Marquette is home to more than 60 miles of bike trails that can be used during the winter months, showing that the riding doesn’t have to wait for the warmer months (although the trails are great then, too.) The Noquemanon network is known for its ability to challenge all users while also offering rides for beginners. Meanwhile, the Range Area Mountain Bike Association in Ispheming has 20 miles of groomed winter trails among its 77 total miles of handbuilt singletrack. There are multiple trailheads that can be found here.

Snowmobiling

The U.P. is a snowmobilers Mecca with 58 trails covering more than 400 miles, all maintained by various clubs and organizations. There are stops for good food and fuel along the way as you travel through dense forests, wide open ranges and experience up to 3,000 feet of elevation change. Find all the resources, including maps, trail conditions and regulations to learn before your travels.

Waterfalls

There are 11 amazing waterfall options around Marquette. The changing seasons give waterfalls a unique look whenever visitors travel north to explore, but the late winter and early spring produce water volumes that peak with the snow melt. The mesmerizing views and sound of rushing water will make visitors feel like they’ve stumbled upon one of the most beautiful places on earth. Family and pet friendly options include Wright Street Falls in Marquette and Laughing Whitefish Falls State Park in nearby Alger County. Morgan Creek Falls is another great choice, but the trail is open to snowmobilers until March 31 so hikers may want to wait until April 1.

Visit Travel Marquette to learn more about the region and plan your visit.

Spring Break idea: Have America’s ‘most beautiful place’ all to yourself!

When it’s Spring Break, you’re not headed south and it’s not quite beach weather in Michigan, what do you do? Check the movie listings!

Of course, you can go see a movie any time. So why not make this Spring Break special by visiting the No. 1 movie theater in the entire world?

Historic State Theatre in downtown Traverse City

The State Theatre in downtown Traverse City

The historic State Theatre in Traverse City will show free movies throughout Spring Break from Friday, March 27, through Thursday, April 2.

Even if your school’s Spring Break doesn’t match up with that week, you can still experience State Theatre at a bargain. That’s because tickets to matinees every Wednesday and Saturday cost just 25 cents each, with late-night cult classics every Friday only $3.

“It’s an old, small-town movie palace with some touches that evoke what going to the movies used to be like when going to the movies was a real event,” said Louis Dickinson, manager of the historic movie house. “We’re right downtown. We have a beautiful old marquee. We have deliberately low concessions prices.

“We aim to make it as affordable as possible for working families and people who aren’t traveling (out of state) for Spring Break. We try to be the staycation capital of northern Michigan.”

State Theatre will screen up to five movies per day for free during Spring Break. Of course, seeing a movie is far from the only thing to do on Spring Break in Traverse City. The area offers a great mix of indoor-outdoor family fun that’s perfect for a weekend getaway, or even the entire week.

Here are five more things for Michiganders to put on their Spring Break staycation bucket list this year:

Go to a water park – The Great Lakes are still too cold for swimming during Spring Break. But the water’s fine at Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City. The resort makes for an active, fun family getaway with a gigantic indoor water park, huge arcade and the innovative MagiQuest 3D interactive game that invites families to solve mysteries by working together.

Get outdoors and enjoy the Mitten State! – Depending on the weather, you can probably still hit the slopes for downhill skiing and tubing on Spring Break in Traverse City. Ski resorts can often make snow into April. There might still even be some snow on the ground during Spring Break, which means you can get out and do cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Even if the snow is all melted, you can still enjoy a last blast of winter by heading to one of the area’s indoor ice rinks for ice skating.

Great Lakes Children's Museum in Traverse City

The Great Lakes Children’s Museum in Traverse City features interactive exhibits geared for children ages 1 to 10

Send the kids to Spring Camp – Lots of kids go to summer camp. Did you know that Traverse City has spring camps, too? Your kids can track animals, build campfires and tap maple trees at the Grass River Natural Area Spring Camp. You can also find special Spring Break activities for kids at other Traverse City attractions including Crooked Tree Arts Center and Professor Qwbli’s. While the kids are busy at camp, it’s a great time for the adults in the family to relax at one of Traverse City’s dozens of wineries and breweries. Enjoy discovering a new favorite while roaming the scenic countryside of the Old Mission and Leelanau peninsulas.

Explore a museum – Whatever the ages and interests of your kids, Traverse City has fun and educational museums right up their alley. The hands-on exhibits at the Great Lakes Children’s Museum in Traverse City are ideal for children ages 8 and under, while older kids will appreciate the artistry on display at the Dennos Museum Center at Northwestern Michigan College. At the Music House Museum, the whole family will get a kick out of antique automated musical instruments.

Experience a national park – This year is the 50th anniversary of the Most Beautiful Place in America: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Even if you’ve been to Sleeping Bear in the summer, you’ll be amazed at how the park takes on a whole different kind of beauty in the spring. Many trails are open for hiking or biking in late March and early April. And, of course, the views are incredible all year round.

RELATED: Tips for planning a Spring Break getaway to Traverse City

Sleeping Bear Dunes

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in the Spring: Hike the Empire Bluff Trail that rises to a tremendous view high above Lake Michigan or take your family back in time by visiting the old farms in historic Port Oneida.

One perk of visiting Sleeping Bear in the spring: it’s much less crowded than during the summer.

“You don’t have to fight for a parking spot this time of year,” said Merrith Baughman, the park’s chief of interpretation and visitor services.

Plus, migratory water birds, including the endangered piping plover, start returning to the dunes in the spring. And it’s a great time to scour the beach and see what rocks and other treasures have washed up during winter storms, she said.

Another perk of visiting Sleeping Bear this spring: The park is celebrating its 50th anniversary! Spring Break activities include a film festival March 21 and March 28 at the Visitor Center in Empire. The visitor center is also the place to find the park’s new junior ranger booklet for kids, new 50-mile Trail Trekker Challenge maps and a 50th anniversary scavenger hunt that will take you to some of the less familiar parts of the park.

RELATED: 5 unexpected ways to enjoy Sleeping Bear Dunes in the winter

Whatever you choose to cross off your Spring Break staycation bucket list – and whether you can get away for just a couple nights or even the entire week – you can take advantage of TC Escape Packages during your stay. The Escape packages include lodging discounts and coupons on everything from dining, movies and spa services to wine purchases and entertainment.

Why relationships are the backbone of this 57-year-old Flint jewelry business

Gaines Jewelry Building

David Gaines probably assesses his life’s work differently than many people would assume after learning that he’s spent 34 years working at Gaines Jewelry, the Flint-based store founded by his father in 1963.

“My dad’s philosophy wasn’t to just wow anyone with inventory or to simply sell them a product,” said Gaines. “He taught me early on that we are here to form relationships, to get to know people and build the trust that creates a customer for life.” Gaines Jewelry original location

“I’m in the jewelry industry, but it’s really about the people that I meet and then get to be a part of their lives. That’s what hooked me. We get to touch people at a time in their lives that they’re happy and a moment that they will remember forever, whether that’s engagements, birthdays or other special occasions. I fell in love with being a part of that feeling.”

As the Gaines family celebrates 57 years in business in 2020, David, along with his daughter, Selina, and son, Wesley, look back with pride at how the Flint community has embraced them. The family business mirrors the community, with the third generation of Gaines involved in finding precious gems and accessories for its third generation of clients.

David recalls his father selling pieces to customers whose children and grandchildren now allow David to meet their jewelry needs

“It’s these long-standing relationships that are so important because it shows we have created a tradition and that we continue living up to the expectations,” David said. “At the same time, we love meeting new people and starting out with them from square one. That’s an exciting process for us.”

As the region’s oldest independent jewelry store, Gaines Jewelry found a balance in having the latest designs and popular brands like Pandora and Kabana alongside original, unique pieces. The family also finds satisfaction in carrying such a wide inventory that they can meet price points of customers at any stage in life.

The full-service nature of the business also allows Gaines to collaborate with clients on repairs, jewelry redesigns and custom designs. Many processes once done by hand are now done using a computer-aided design process to create timeless and poignant pieces. Customizing jewelry has become more efficient and customer-friendly in recent years because of technology, which Gaines Jewelry has invested in to be at the cutting-edge of the industry.

“If you can dream it, we can build it,” David says, noting designs can be conceptualized and completed in as little as three to four weeks.

Gaines Jewelry Gallery location

While the jeweler’s primary operations are based at the Beecher Road location, the Gaines’ are also eagerly anticipating what the future brings with the addition of The Gallery by Gaines pop-up shop in the Shops on Saginaw in downtown Flint. Daughter Selina manages the new location that opened in December. The shop has a curated selection of affordable and fashionable jewelry, and the opening was a sign of how the family feels about Flint.

“Flint is my town, it’s where I went to school, went to college and raised my family,” David said. “The community has invested in us, and we have invested in the community that we love. There’s a lot of momentum downtown and we want to support and be a part of that activity.

“The Gallery is a sampling of what we have done and what people can expect when they visit (the Beecher Road store). We hope it introduces us to new people or makes it more convenient for them to visit our store and learn about us.”

Visit Gaines Jewelry’s website or Facebook page to learn more about Flint’s independent jeweler.

Gazelle Sports’ dedication to community: ‘We believe movement can change your life’

Gazelle Sports

Joe Trupp, in a sense, has come full circle.

After struggling through the first run of his life, a four-miler at the age of 34, Trupp began hanging out and asking questions of staff at the Gazelle Sports in Kalamazoo, inadvertently becoming part of the movement community that 11 years later he now helps build and herd.

“The way I felt after that run, gosh, it was incredible and different than anything I had ever felt in my life,” said Trupp, who manages the same Gazelle Sports store in Kalamazoo that helped launch his passion for running and healthy living. “I fell in love with being part of this community of people who help each other, think about each other and inspire each other.

“Gazelle encourages people to grow, whatever that means to them, and I feel good about going to work knowing that I’m helping other people feel good.”

It’s that sense of commitment and camaraderie that has driven Gazelle Sports from its modest beginnings as a running specialty store in 1985 to its center as a five-location, locally owned and operated retailer for athletes of all pursuits.

Gazelle Sports locations in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Holland, Northville and Birmingham provide a statewide footprint for the retailer, but the stores – more importantly the people who work and shop at them – never lose the reflection of their community. That’s on display through carefully curated gear, sponsored events and run camps and clinics that encourage positive lifestyles.


The stores focus on retail excellence, customer care and being a support system, Trupp said. Employees work to get to know people coming in the stores and strive to understand their goals before guiding them through items that will help them achieve success.

“We want people to be a part of the Gazelle family,” Trupp said. “We want to encourage you to take that first step of a run or that first yoga class, whatever your interest is. We want to meet you where you’re at and be a part of that journey to help you get where you want to go.

“That’s the goal, not to just sell you something, although we obviously hope that will happen. Our people want to learn your story, gain your trust and let you know that we’re on your side. Movement is the mission. Your success is our reward.”

Trupp thinks back to his progress as a runner, which led him from a friend challenging him to run a half marathon to him tackling an ultramarathon in roughly a year. He remembers on that first run it was a group of women involved in the Gazelle Sports training club who taught him the importance of conversational running, that if he couldn’t talk comfortably, he was going too fast.

The message, and the result of listening to experienced runners, delivered for Trupp, who worked at a hair salon located across the street from Gazelle Sports at the time. His persistence and quest for knowledge led the run specialty store to offer him a part-time job, which led to a full-time position, and then five years ago a leadership role.

“That group took me under their wings, and I learned so much,” he said. “If Gazelle hadn’t been there to help me, who knows how (the half marathon) would have turned out. I learned the sky was the limit, and then I got to be a part of a team providing that same thing to others.

“It’s really amazing, I was not a runner, and I was on a different path, but that’s why we say that we believe movement can change your life. It does exactly that. I want to be that person for others who are just starting out, getting back into a routine or are just looking for someone to talk to.”

Michigan high school students ‘open up new worlds’ at renowned flight school

View from an airplane cockpit

Once Regan Lezotte completed Crosswinds Aviation’s high school flight program and then earned her private pilot’s license, she knew her next move was to share the excitement by becoming a flight instructor.

Crosswinds Aviation student explaining an airplane dashboard“Teaching is awesome because I’m taking my passion and bringing it to somebody else,” said Lezotte. “I can open up new worlds to them. (At Crosswinds) I’ve seen a lot, I’ve experienced a lot and it’s fun knowing we’re training the next generation of pilots.”

“Once you get into the air, that’s when the fun starts to happen.”

Matt Dahline, owner of Crosswinds Aviation and a 20-year pilot, said the look on students faces the first time they are in the air and at the controls of an aircraft is the inspiration behind the flight school.

“They love it, and that fascination with flying takes another step,” he said. “It’s about the smiles on their faces and opening up opportunities to them.”

“We are passionate about exposing as many kids to aviation, and we are committed to helping to make a positive impact on the aviation industry’s pilot shortage by producing as many qualified pilots as possible.”Crosswinds Aviation logo on an airplane rudder

“We know that any committed high school student looking to get into the aviation can do it. It takes dedication, hard work and a passion for the skies.”

Crosswinds high school programs, which are open to juniors and seniors, are available at Livingston County, Oakland County International and Bishop International airports. Students from high schools in Livingston and Genesee counties, where Crosswinds has partnerships, typically spend a majority of their day at their home school and then two hours at Crosswinds for ground and flight instruction over two consecutive semesters.

“We love partnering with our local schools and communities and showing the students the future flying provides,” Dahline said. Crosswinds Aviation instructor and student

Crosswinds instructors prepare pilots with a firm base of flying fundamentals that launch a lifetime of success in aviation, either as a professional or recreational pilot. The curriculum readies students to complete their written exam while also providing:

  • Exposure to many aspects of the aviation industry
  • Meet with industry experts
  • Free 10 hours of simulator time per student ($250 value)
  • Computer-based ground training ($200 value)
  • EAA will reimburse students that take and pass FAA written exam ($150 value)

 

 

Commercial airline pilot Ryan Lawrence got his start at Crosswinds after enrolling in the high school program as a senior. He and his parents scouted various flight schools and determined the modern fleet of aircraft and the family atmosphere at Crosswinds was the perfect fit.

“It was a no-brainer,” Lawrence said. “Earning my private pilot license was the best head start I could possibly get. The instructor set me up for success. It was a professional environment and learning experience the entire time. It was very one-on-one, and it was great every time we went up for a flight and every time we met in the classroom.”

Now, Lawrence looks around airports and sees the industry’s growth threatened by a shortage of available pilots prepared to replace a wave of veterans who will soon be hanging up their wings. He knows Crosswinds can change the trajectory of students’ futures.

“If you’re interested in aviation, now is the time to get started,” said Lawrence, who is flying regionally and plans on becoming a captain. “At Crosswinds, everything is laid out for you and there’s a great support system to show you how to get to where you want to be.

“Crosswinds was able to help me make my dream of being a career pilot come true.”

Picture your magical winter wedding in northern Michigan

Jenna and Daemian Koehler

Living just a block away from Stafford’s Perry Hotel, Jenna and Daemian Koehler would pass by weddings pretty much every summer weekend. Seeing all the joyful brides and grooms at the downtown Petoskey venue, they knew that they wanted to have their own wedding there, too. So, when Daemian proposed, Jenna called Stafford’s right away to check on availability.

The only challenge was that Daemian manages a bike shop, and that makes his summers in the northern Michigan tourist destination really busy. As a result, the couple decided to get married in March.

Wedding rings on bicycle wheel

(Photo by Marissa Dillion Photography)

In Petoskey, March is still very much in the thick of winter. And when Jenna and Daemian got married in March 2019, it was cold outside and there was still snow on the ground – lots of snow! But their wedding day dawned with bright blue skies and Stafford’s helped make the occasion a wonderful, memorable experience that a year later still brings Jenna tears of joy.

“I really wasn’t sure how it was all going to come together, but it turned out beautiful,” Jenna said.

“It was like wedding fairies were putting everything together. I still can’t believe how easy a winter wedding was.”

A lot of couples get engaged in the winter. In fact, the most popular time of year to get engaged is between the holidays and Valentine’s Day.

But have you ever considered a winter wedding?

Stafford’s hosts weddings at Stafford’s Perry Hotel and a couple miles outside of Petoskey at Stafford’s Bay View Inn. Each venue has unique character: Stafford’s Perry Hotel is close to downtown shopping and dining, while the historic Stafford’s Bay View Inn is a more intimate event space with only 31 rooms and no TVs or phones.

At both locations, Stafford’s provides full on-site event coordination with exclusive catering that lets brides and grooms focus on each other instead of worrying about multiple moving pieces of the party.

Plus, during the value season from November through April, weddings at Stafford’s get deep discounts on room rentals for the reception and guests get deals on lodging, too. At the Perry Hotel, larger weddings can reserve the gorgeous H.O. Rose Dining Room, and smaller parties can reserve the more intimate Reycraft Room, for 50-percent off. Or, you can reserve the entire Bay View Inn at special off-season pricing for the wedding of your dreams!

“What really sold us was the Rose Room with that huge view out over the bay,” Jenna said. “It’s just beautiful. And the price difference was a no-brainer.”

RELATED: 2020 and 2021 Value Season Weddings – Now Booking!

Not only is winter the value season for weddings at Stafford’s, but it’s a lovely time in northern Michigan that makes for distinctive and stunning wedding photos. See just how perfect a winter wedding at Stafford’s can be…

 

RELATED: More photos of winter weddings at Stafford’s

One of the unique things about Jenna and Daemian’s winter wedding is that instead of lots of flowers, the ceremony and reception featured natural items for decorations.

Jenna & Daemian's wedding display

Photo by Marissa Dillon Photography

Jenna had her bridesmaids collect sticks, stones and pinecones in the months leading up to the wedding.

“We both love the outdoors and are very into outdoor adventures,” Jenna said. “All our decorations were from the outdoors. I really wanted to bring our love of the outdoors into our wedding.”

Mutual love of the outdoors is actually what brought Jenna and Daemian together. When Jenna moved to Petoskey for a teaching job, she stopped at High Gear Sports to ask for recommendations on where to ride her bike. That happens to be the shop where Daemian works! He took time to highlight a map of different roads and routes for Jenna to ride.

High Gear Sports turned into Jenna’s go-to bike shop, and she visited quite a few times over the next few weeks for help with mechanical issues. After a few months, Daemian finally got the hint and asked her out.

“Luckily, I had a spoke that was going through the rim of my tire and I kept getting a flat,” she laughed. “It worked out really well!”

When Daemian proposed, it was on a hike at Sleeping Bear Dunes. They took a break under a tree on top of a dune, and he popped the question. It was a beautiful view and a perfect day, just like their winter wedding at Stafford’s!

Getting married a block from where they live at a place they often see is special to Jenna and Daemian because the excitement and happiness of that day can be recalled so easily.

Jenna and Daemian wedding dance

Photo by Marissa Dillon Photography

“Stafford’s Perry Hotel will always have a special place in our hearts,” Jenna said. “You can look out (from the dinner table) and see all of your friends and family celebrating your wedding. Everyone was just so joyful and loving, and to have all of that in one room it was like magic.

“It was amazing to have our wedding at Stafford’s.”

Start planning your winter wedding at Stafford’s.