Here's a fun way to gear up for Black Friday: food and favorite store pairings! Set aside the cheese and wine (or turkey and stuffing) pairings, and match up a great local restaurant with a nearby specialty store in the neighborhood—so you can shop until you are about to drop but then fuel up again. Picking a spot to browse and an equally inspiring place to nosh is a match made in local heaven.
GALLERY 154/TERRA GR: Eastown is filled with quirky storefronts. If you're looking for unpredictable gifts, head to Gallery 154—this area's resource for the offbeat and interesting. Know someone who loves to decorate for the holidays? The store's creative cache of fine holiday ornaments won't disappoint. Hop across the street and warm up and unwind at Terra GR with some spiked chai, or the seasonal infused cranberry orange vodka to put a skip in your step. "We seasonalize the menu with winter style dishes and added a charcuterie board," said Chris McDonald, general manager and operating partner.
Close at Hand: If your sweet tooth kicks in Connie's Cakes has some treats in their bakery case that will satisfy or pop into Rebel, aka the home décor mecca.
APOTHECARY OFF MAIN/FRESHII: Monroe Center is well-trafficked and features wonderful boutiques. If you have a product purist on your list, you'll find a ton of options at Apothecary Off Main, which carries natural products from J.R. Watkins (personal care, home care, gourmet spices and extracts). Freshii is nearby, so eat and energize with burritos, wraps, and soups. Prepare for the shopping battle by ordering a Warrior bowl of brown rice, corn, red onions, tomatoes, carrots, Cajun spice, and ranch dressing.
Close at Hand: Gina's Boutique is here for a quick and convenient fashion fix, along with neighboring Wolverine Company Store for comfortable and quality shoes.
DENYM/O'TOOLE'S: Off the beaten path, Bridge Street has some surprises. Look to DENYM for a premium denim shopping experience. It features the latest in men's and women's clothing and accessories, and owner Katie Harney notes it will be stocked with holiday dresses from French Connection and local, Michigan-themed apparel. Burger up at O'Toole's, across the street—better yet, order the buffalo chicken gyro. This true Irish-style neighborhood pub has multiple Michigan beers on tap for you to try.
Close at Hand: For your repurposing pals, The Conscious Collective's upscale consignment is a great way to recycle, reuse, and regift—in a good way!
Did you know that seventy-three more money stays in the community when you support a locally owned business, versus a national chain? Localista Elissa Hillary, executive director with Local First, is happy to school you in the ways of supporting local businesses. "Locally owned businesses give 350 percent more money and time back to their community than their national counterparts." Hillary has some local pairing suggestions, too:
"Another pairing I think is fun is a girl's outing. You can have lunch at The Green Well and Brewery Vivant and hit shops along Cherry Street such as Peninsula Trading, Clothing Matters, and YT Galleria."
Written by Missy Black, is a footwear fanatic, a style child, and a contributing writer for West Michigan Woman.