Get weird in Mount Clemens this weekend

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We have a lot to look forward to over the next few days: spending time with the family on Thanksgiving, getting the latest special releases on Record Store Day Black Friday and buying gifts with local flair on Small Business Saturday.

It’s an especially big weekend for record store and small business Weirdsville Records and Paperback Writer Books in Mount Clemens as they promise to offer great deals and exciting new releases ranging from classics like the Doors and Miles Davis to heavy metal and punk rock like Metallica and the Dead Milkmen and even, oddly enough, “Guardians of the Galaxy” cassettes – which have been making a comeback in the last couple of years.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWeirdsville Records and Paperback Writer Books opened in May 2011. They are two stores under one roof run by husband and wife Dave and Lisa Taylor. Customers can find new and used records, record players, action figures, “oddball” items, used books and new books by local authors.

With giant bookstore chains going out of business and record stores shuttering their doors, what made Dave and Lisa think opening their own shop would be a good idea? There are a slew of reasons ranging from the idealist –they both love music and have been collecting records all their lives, to the sentimental – Dave and Lisa’s first date was at a record store, to the logical – Lisa knows books.

After losing her job of 17 years at Borders, Lisa and Dave thought it was the perfect time to branch out on their own. “We said we would try and see what happens,” Lisa said. They originally carried books and oddities and eventually expanded into records, where they have certainly found their niche, winning Best Independent Record Store in Macomb County from Metro Times in 2013 and 2014.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAcknowledging it might be naïveté, Dave said, “I’d like to think that other record shops didn’t close because they weren’t doing well, but because the owners had been doing it for a long time and were ready to move on to do different things.” No matter the reason, as record stores were closing, the market continued to grow as the next generation discovered vinyl records. Most Weirdsville customers are between 14 and 30 years old.

Founded on New Street, the store recently moved a block over to a new spot on Macomb Place. The move doubled their size, and they enjoy being on a more prominent street. The couple lives in Mount Clemens and values its historical legacy, so they jumped at the chance to remain in their community and obtain a larger space.

Weirdsville Records and Paperback Writer Books offer several community events including B movies (not all bad, but definitely all B) and book signings. They recently had Tom Daldin from Under the Radar Michigan, which featured their shop on the show and mentions them in his book “Under the Radar Michigan: The First 50.” On Friday, Dec. 12, singer, song writer and poet Emily Rose will perform and sign her poetry book “Cemetery Tea Party.”

A member of the local music scene in his own right as a member of the band The Amino Acids, Dave is looking forward to once again offering local band listening parties. Recently on hiatus, look for those to start up again on the last Tuesday of every month. It’s a great opportunity to introduce new fans to local music. Next spring, they also intend to offer board games and magnetic poetry nights.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADon’t miss out on the great deals that are waiting for you all weekend long. The shop will be offering 20 percent off used items storewide. They have lengthened their hours, opening from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and will offer hot coffee to customers to combat the chilly weather. The first five customers through the door on Friday will receive $5 in Weir-dough to be used on anything in the store after next weekend – great to use for Christmas gifts or to treat yourself!

Whether you are looking for the perfect quirky gift, a good read or something you never knew you couldn’t live without, Weirdsville Records and Paperback Writer Books are definitely worth stopping by.

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61 Macomb Place, Mount Clemens, MI 48043 (586) 468-2665

http://www.weirdsvilledetroit.com/
http://www.usedonnewbooks.com/

Hours
Monday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tuesday – Wednesday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Thursday – Friday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday Noon to 4 p.m.

This article was also posted at MakeMacombYourHome.com on Nov. 26, 2014.

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Great Fresh Foods new product ready to hit shelves

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Gourmet stuffed chicken patties, fire-roasted chicken breast, Jamaican-style chicken, stuffed meatballs, stuffed beef patties, stuffed chicken meatballs—is your stomach growling yet? This is the product line for the emerging company Great Fresh Foods. If you have not heard of them yet, you will.

Empty plateGreat Fresh Foods is the brand-new sister company of the well-established Garden Fresh Gourmet—the salsa sensation out of Ferndale that has taken the industry by storm. In a few short years, Garden Fresh Gourmet has grown from its humble beginnings to become the largest fresh salsa company in North America. It carries several gourmet lines including hummus, tortilla chips, guacamole, dips and salad dressings.

Co-founders Jack and Annette Aronson have expanded into new territory with their line of gourmet stuffed burgers and meatballs. Having already mastered a state-of-the-art, high-pressure process that enables them to provide fresh products that are preservative-free, they have applied the process to their new company’s products as well. The result is a delicious, never-frozen entrée that is ready to eat after one minute in the microwave.

Empty plate“We are about to launch a new company that offers a breakthrough in the fresh burger and meatball category: chicken and beef burgers that are truly stuffed, not mixed, with premium fillings that both in terms of visuals and flavor profile are unlike anything else on the market,” said Vice Chairman of Garden Fresh Gourmet Dave Zilko.

Zilko added, “To be featured under our new Jack’s Special Grilled brand, the initial line will feature four varieties of fully cooked, all natural, gluten-free stuffed chicken burgers: Spinach & 3 Cheese, Applewood Smoked Bacon & Cheddar, Roasted Red Pepper & Mozzarella, and PepperJack.”

In April of 2014, Great Fresh Foods acquired a 12,000-square-foot facility located at 44696 Morley Drive in Clinton Township. Choosing to locate Great Fresh Foods within Macomb County put the up-and-coming company on the Department of Planning and Economic Development’s (MCPED) radar. Senior Economic Development Specialists Camille Silda and Jack Johns reached out to the company to offer assistance.

GreatFreshCamille and Jack were able to refer valuable resources to the business and put them in touch with development partners at Michigan Works and Macomb Community College. MCPED also worked as a liaison between Great Fresh Foods and Consumers Energy to get the Clinton Township facility up and running. Preparing an Industrial Facilities Exemption tax abatement was another service MCPED provided.

So where can you find these delicious new products? Look for Jack’s Special Grilled brand in the meat department at Meijer.

A version of this article was also published in eMacomb Spring 2014.

The perfect twist

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I had the opportunity to speak with St. Clair Shores resident and small business owner Ann Bobek about her burgeoning decadent gourmet pretzel business, The Twisted Pretzel, which combines the perfect twist of salty pretzels with drizzled chocolate and gooey caramel.

The Twisted Pretzel officially launched in February 2013, but its inspiration started many years earlier. Ann has always loved to cook and bake, something passed down to her by her grandmothers and great aunts who often baked pies and cookies. But it wasn’t until her son started kindergarten that she discovered her passion for chocolate-covered pretzels.

peppermint in cello bagOnce introduced to the technique, she quickly began bringing tasty pretzel rod treats to school parties and holidays, where she started to hear, “You should start your own business” – a lot. But with young kids, the timing wasn’t right.

Flash forward to the present day, and Ann’s youngest child is a senior in high school and The Twisted Pretzel is open for business. But it didn’t happen overnight. Ann did what every new business owner should, she put in the work.

Ann attended classes at the Small Business Development Center, took classes at the Michigan State Product Center and scheduled meetings with Small Business Counselor Wendy Richardson, Innovation Counselor Micah Loucks and our Senior Economic Development Specialist Jack Johns.

“Jack’s proactive and pushes me forward, connecting me to other people,” said Ann. Connecting and networking with peers and mentors has been a source of knowledge and insight.

At the Michigan State Product Center, Ann soaked up all she could from the “food people” there. She first showed her product to Micah who saw it as a unique item not currently on the market in this area. He gave his initial stamp of approval and continues to counsel and work with Ann regularly. “Not only has he helped me out and guided me, but there is also a friendship that develops when you go through this process,” Ann said of Micah.

Cinnamon crunchThe Twisted Pretzel specializes in gourmet pretzels that come in an assortment of shapes and sizes. Their most popular product is Funky Chunky Bark. Not wanting to let broken pretzels go to waste, Ann came up with the idea to incorporate pretzel pieces, dark chocolate, peanut butter chocolate and handmade marshmallow made from scratch. Other products include Caramel Twisters, Twisted Turtles and Pretzel Twists that can be embellished with Cinnamon Crunch, Cookies and Cream, Java, M&Ms, Razz Berry, Toffee or Peppermint Twist.

Ann refers to her product as “edible art” because it looks as beautiful as it is delicious, and I can vouch for that. These gourmet desserts are perfect for holidays, graduations, showers and even corporate events. Each product is handmade with care, and Ann supports other Michigan businesses whenever possible, including in her printing and packaging, which she does through the Detroit-based Michigan Box Company.

A lot of changes occur during the first stages of a new business. There is a lot to learn and an evolution that occurs as you iron out your product, identity and key market. But Ann is up for the challenge, saying, “Whatever fabulous journey awaits, it’s sure to be exciting.”

Macomb County locations carrying The Twisted Pretzel products are Viviano Flower Shop branches in Chesterfield Township, Shelby Township and St. Clair Shores and Urban Attic also in St. Clair Shores. You can also catch Ann (and some free samples!) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 23 at the St. Clair Shores Viviano Open House. For more information on The Twisted Pretzel, visit their website at www.twstdprtzl.com/.
Twisted turtle with rck card

This article was also posted at MakeMacombYourHome.com on Nov. 20, 2014.