If you’re thinking outside the big box this holiday season (that includes eluding the tentacles of Amazon convenience), consider keeping it local and supporting some Bay City businesses that will broaden your options for thoughtfulness in the gift-giving department. In the spirit of the season, buying local is a great way to put your money directly into the local economy. So before you blow your budget on Black Friday temptation, consider some of these more personal options.
Native Son Detroit
When it comes to elevating the local economy, the cannabis industry has done wonders. In fact, in 2023 state tax revenue from cannabis will exceed that of beer, wine, and liquor combined. If you’re dreaming of a Green Christmas, there are multiple options, but one dispensary that’s forging ties with the community is Native Son Detroit. President and co-founder Lyndia Matthews has been raising the shop’s visibility since it opened in June 2022, joining the Bay City Chamber of Commerce and organizing food drives and various events in support of local humanitarian efforts. “We just did a canned-food drive for the Masonic Temple Thanksgiving Dinner,” she said recently. “Bring in four cans, get a free Baby Jeeter. It’s a pretty good deal!”
Although Green Wednesday (the Wednesday before Thanksgiving that has emerged as an annual holiday within the cannabis industry) has already passed, Native Son Detroit is bringing back its customizable Holiday Gift Box again this year. For $89.99, customers can choose between an array of flower, pre-rolls, edibles, vape products, and accessories to create their own customized gift box. Treat one special person, or score gifts for several people – the choice is yours. Native Son Detroit is located at 408 E. John St. and is open 7 days a week.
Lolobee’s Coffee & Tea Lounge
Lauren Williams and Ben Paul had maintained a long-distance relationship for 7 years before opening Lolobee’s Coffee & Tea Lounge on August 12, 2022. More than just their first day in business together, it was the day that Ben proposed to Lauren. While they haven’t yet set a date for their union, the business partnership is making swift progress.
Originally from New Orleans, Lauren was always enamored with the quaint cafes and restaurants that would sell paintings and other art made by local artisans. That became a feature that she wanted to support at Lolobee’s. “We have contracts with 22 artists who are currently selling their work,” she saThey happened upon the building when the landlord was working on renovating the space and acted quickly when they learned the Linn Street space was not already rented. “He ended up customizing the space to our preference,” says Williams.
In addition to being an outlet for local artists to sell their wares, the lounge has an ever-expanding schedule of events and entertainment. The lounge’s weekly trivia night, or “Tri-Bee-A,” has created a consistent buzz. “We’ve got 13 teams signed up tonight,” said Williams on a recent Friday afternoon. Book clubs have found Lolobee’s to be a comfortable meeting spot as well: Sage Library Book Club meets there monthly (Nov. 27 and Dec. 18), as does Leopard Print Banned Book Club (leopardprintbooks.com/banned) Dec. 5 and The Passionate Page Turners (instagram.com/thepassionatepageturners/), on Dec. 11. On Dec. 12, Roberto Scarlato will be signing copies of his book, “The Christmas Crooner.”
This past summer, Lolobee’s celebrated its one-year anniversary with a brass band parade around Midland Street this past summer. The Prospect Brass Band, a six-piece unit consisting of Aaron Smokavitz (trumpet), James Besaw (tenor sax) Aron Scott Callard (trombone), Pat Yagiela (baritone sax), Megan Corkey (sousaphone), and Todd Miller (drumset), will return to Lolobee’s December 17. No word on whether another street parade will ensue.
Upcoming music events include a couple acoustic duos (Ross and Kenna Nov. 28 and Matt and Josh on Dec. 2), a Peace-In John Lennon Celebration on Dec. 8, and Krampus Karaoke on Dec. 26. Events are always being added, and local musicians, entertainers, book club enthusiasts, and so on are encouraged to inquire about having an event at Bay City’s only coffeehouse/lounge that stays open from noon until midnight six days a week.
They got their location in a chance meeting with the landlord and ended up customizing the space to their preference. Lauren always appreciated New Orleans eateries and cafes that sold art that was decorating the walls. Currently, there are 22 local artists with an agreement to sell their art through Lolobee’s.
Lolobee’s Lounge is located at 106 S. Linn St. and is open from noon to midnight every day except Wednesday. http://lolobees.com/
Midland Street Books
In the age of AI, video games, and drone technology, there’s something to be said about the tactile pleasure of turning the pages of a compelling book. As gifts, books have staying power. Along with a connection to time and place, books can serve as reference, inspiration, escape, and a deep dive into history, religion, or any topic you care to explore.
Midland Street Books was originally the 99 Trees bookstore that relocated from Center Avenue. Partners Scott Byers and Dustin Hartz brought the inventory across the river and opened in May 2020. Hartz would eventually leave to start The Art Dept., which operates a couple doors down in the same building. In the summer of 2021, Kerice Basmadjian became a partner in the business. Basmadjian, a former Bay City Commissioner for the district that includes Midland Street, had no experience in the book industry, other than the fact that she loves to read. “Scott has the institutional knowledge. He can pick up a book and pretty much tell by the weight of the cover and pages what it’s worth,” she says, adding, “and I bring the front-of-the-house knowledge and hospitality sense to promoting the business.”
The shelves at Midland Street Books are teeming with towering rows of topics, genres, and specialties. Make your way to the back of the store, step into the basement, and you’ll find more treasures, all (except for the particularly aged or valuable) reasonably priced and meeting a certain criteria to earn valuable shelf space in the tight quarters. Not only are titles and topics carefully curated, condition is also important. You won’t find books whose pages have “foxing” – discoloration on the edge of the pages that can spread to other books on a shelf – and the condition of covers is near new, or it lands on the bargain shelf.
There is another space next door, currently used for storage, that they hope to open to expand the store within the next year, but there is no definite timeline for that to happen, says Basmadjian. Once open, however, the store will be able to more easily host book readings and other author events.
Whether you want to explore local history, specialty cooking, or just complete your collection of a particular author, Midland Street Books is worth a stop. But remember, you can shop for yourself any time of the year, so stay focused and tackle that gift list!
Midland Street Books is located at 809 E. Midland St. and is open Thursday through from 11am to 5pm and Tuesday and Wednesday from 11am to 7pm.
When Artigiano cheese shop first opened back in 2013, Kevin and Danielle Parker were partners with Kevin’s parents, who had launched the business as a farmer’s market hobby in Caro. Through visits to Chicago, New York, and other metropolitan areas, Kevin and Danielle began collecting ideas and taking notes for opening an artisanal epicurean shop that specialized in cheeses but also maintained an eclectic stock of wines, jams, spreads, spices, olive oils, and more.
While cheese remains the flagship ingredient of the business’ success, in the 10 years that have ensued, Artigiano has grown its product line through expanded relationships with boutique producers of specialty goods. Kevin’s father, a woodworker, built almost all of the shelving in the shopKevin’s schedule of events and trade show trips took a direct hit during the COVID shutdown, but the advent of Zoom tastings emerged, allowing him to stay engaged with certain vendors who were now offering remote tastings to keep their product top of mind with potential customers.
While a custom cheese and meat platter is always a nice touch for your entertaining needs, Artigiano also features an extensive line of knives, cutting boards, fondue sets, and beverages to complement your charcuterie. While Danielle’s remaining available time is occupied with their 6-year-old daughter, Kevin Parker is actively involved in various civic activities, serving on the board of Studio 23 and also serving on the advisory committee for Bay Arenac Intermediate School District culinary program. Artigiano is located at 815 Saginaw St., open every day at 11am. http://artigianocheeses.com
As the holidays continue to track your scent of desperation, hunting you down to the final days of gift-giving inspiration, think local and stop into these shops for your loved ones – or yourself!
9th February, 2024