Thousands of stores closed across the country last year due to the pandemic. In St. Johns, five shops and restaurants opened downtown selling everything from candles to beer, and they've been finding success.
The Mint Door Boutique opened on Walker Street in 2018, but owner Chris Roberts was ready to expand by June of last year.
"Chris always had the dream of being on Main Street," said Corinne Trimbach, Roberts' business partner. "So, when a building became available, then her and her husband looked at it and…”
“We rented and revamped it,” Roberts finished.
Roberts and Trimbach said that the community has been very supportive.
"We’re very surprised, pleasantly surprised, at how well we’ve done down here,” Trimbach said. “St. Johns has been very good this year with the brewery opening up, and we have good businesses all around us…and yeah! We’re just happy with the way the town is coming together after many, many years,” Trimbach said.
Another addition to downtown was AdornMint Gift Shop, which opened in June. By October, however, owners Jamie Madar and Emily Irish-Kendall moved the shop to a larger space, which happened to be in front of the first location. Madar and Irish-Kendall are both artists, and make about 40 percent of their merchandise.
“Everything is made in Michigan or something that’s been enhanced. So for instance, you take a glass and you etch it kind of thing. Most of it’s done right here in Clinton County," said Madar.
Kymora Kandles opened in mid-February of 2020. Owner Lindsay Wood makes all her candles by hand in Maple Rapids. Her cousin and associate Laura Lewis said that, while it was challenging to open a business during the pandemic, they got through it.
“We were open on and off through the summer with COVID," she said. "We just finally got back to normal hours.”
The store is open seven days a week.
Opening a candle business "was kind of a way to connect with other people, I would say, instead of working a regular desk job you kind of mingle with people in a different way. Everybody loves candles,” Lewis said.
Toni Barnett, owner of Cupcakes and Kisses, opened her third location in downtown St. Johns in October after she was approached by someone from the St. Johns community.
"Saying that they had a good idea for her to come down here and they had a space that they thought she’d like," said Kora Barnett, Toni's eldest daughter.
"After quite a few months of debating it and looking at the space, she finally decided to go for it," she said. “My mom did think it was a bold choice to do so, but with how busy our business was…and business has actually really skyrocketed for us. So we didn’t really have any problems with it at all.”
St. Johns Brewing Company opened on Dec. 1 in an old bank downtown.
Dru Mitchell, president and CEO of Clinton County Catalyst, said the success of the new businesses "speaks to the community is very accepting, that the city and area townships are very welcoming.
"They help facilitate moving into a community," she said. "They have me to help."
Mitchell also said the growth is likely correlated with the new cheese factory and whey manufacturing facility, MWC.
“When you bring an additional 300 employees to a community, there’s going to be additional growth..." Mitchell said. "So, I think it’s a comfort level with the economy and that Clinton County is stable, St. Johns is a stable community, and it’s a good place to do business."
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