Mini Retail Chalets in Downtown Muskegon Receive Support from GROW

Pictured L to R: Richard D Houtteman of Consumers, Carolee Castle of Morat’s Bakery, Bonnie Nawara, CEO at GROW, Ann Meisch of City of Muskegon, Roger C. Morgenstern of Consumers Energy

$4,000 Investment Helped Local Female Business Owners Join the Western Market

June 28, 2017 – With a $4,000 investment, Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women helped two female entrepreneurs secure their places in Muskegon’s Western Market—a unique group of mini retail chalets bringing new business to downtown Muskegon this summer.

“We were thrilled to be part of this initiative in Muskegon. Many people don’t realize GROW’s reach, but we serve 9 counties in West Michigan. We offer programming in Muskegon, so making this investment was a natural fit for us,” said Bonnie Nawara, CEO of GROW. “We love that the spaces are small—around 100 square feet—so an entrepreneur can be part of it without making a huge capital investment.”

“The cost for a chalet space ranged from $1,100 to $1,800 for the season. While it’s reasonable, it is still a challenge for a small business owner to pay in one lump sum,” said Ann Marie Meisch, Muskegon City Clerk. “GROW came to Muskegon and held a class for chalet vendors providing them with basic information about being a business owner. They also offered capital support, which helped two of our vendors. Others are applying for larger loans from GROW to grow their business at a brick-and-mortar location. GROW has been a great partner.”

GROW’s $4,000 capital investment was divided between two chalet retailers. They are:

  • Gems Near the Lakeshore—offering Michigan jewelry, t-shirts, totes, wine accessories, candles, bath bombs, essential oils, fine jewelry, and more.
  • Morat’s Bakery-Pub—offering baked breads from a New Era staple, in addition to local honey, maple cream, candy, and more.

GROW has 25 years of experience empowering women entrepreneurs to launch, advance, and sustain their businesses. In addition to their robust training programs, the organization also helps established businesses access traditional lending. Both of the chalet retailers that GROW supported have established businesses in West Michigan. Gems Near the Lakeshore has a location inside Muskegon’s Century Club. Morat’s has a bakery and pub in New Era.

“Our investment in the retail chalets is one small example of how we can help established female entrepreneurs grow and expan their businesses with relatively low risk and a minimal investment,” Nawara added.

Part of GROW’s $4,000 investment was made possible by a grant from Consumers Energy.

“Consumers Energy is excited to partner with GROW to help support women entrepreneurs like Carolee Castle of Morat’s Bakery who is part of the new Western Avenue Market in downtown Muskegon,” said Lisa Gustafson, the company’s executive director of Business Customer Care. “This project is a great example of connecting customers with innovative  businesses in a unique setting.”

“We started small, and today are proud to deliver hometown service through more than 7,500 coworkers across Michigan’s Lower Peninsula as one of the state’s largest and most enduring companies.”

Consumer’s Energy also presented a check to GROW at the Western Market on Thursday, June 29, 2017 – pictured above.