Store, marketplace offer MIX

By Jerome Stuart Nichols | Life Editor
Added February 15, 2012 at 9:43 pm

Since opening its doors in December 2009, MIX new and used has been a welcomed addition to the downtown Ypsilanti shopping scene. Specializing in all things unique, this creative and welcoming storefront at 130 W. Michigan Ave. in Ypsilanti has carved out a niche among the downtown community.

MIX offers an assortment of new and used gifts, clothing and accessories for women along with its great atmosphere.

“MIX is a mix of artistically chic dressing for women,” MIX owner Leslie Leland said. “We also have household items, accessories like scarves, hats and purses. Then we have gifts
too.”

Leland runs the eclectic shop with business partners Bonnie and Ed Penet. Each of the owners being artists in his or her own right, they opened the store to express their passion.

“I had a store in Key West and also in Ann Arbor,” Leland said. “When we moved back from Key West to be closer to family, I ran in to Bonnie Penet who worked in my store in Ann Arbor. The first thing we said to each other was ‘We’ve got to have a store.’

“We both were moving toward doing a mix of new and used. We started discussing it and actually jumped in a year later.”

Although MIX sells both new and used items, this isn’t a consignment store.

“We have new clothing, accessories and merchandise on one side of our store,” Leland said. “On this side it’s the same [as the other side of the store], but they’re one-of-a-kind because we hunt for them ourselves.”

“It’s not a consignment store, but a store where we’ve gone out to second-hand stores, estate sales and garage sales. We find these things, buy them and bring them back here.”

Doing the legwork to stock their store with unique items might sound like a lot of work, but they seem to enjoy it.

“It’s really fun to go hunting for this stuff,” Leland said with a bright smile.

What kind of clothing are they looking for?

“Both Bonnie and I and my husband are artists,” she said. “So we’re drawn to the kind of clothing that you can’t get anywhere else.”

“We go all over southeast Michigan,” Penet said. “We’ll go into a second hand store and we’re very picky. It has to be in near perfect condition. We’ll go through a store [for] three or four hours and come out with 20 pieces, because we’re very picky.”

Although Leland and the Penets work hard to make sure their beloved shop is filled with unique items, they also work hard to make sure that you wallet stays filled with money.
“You’re getting clothing that would normally run from $50 a piece to $250 a piece,” Leland said. “Most of our clothes are in the $20 range.”

After the success of MIX, the owners decided to open up a second space. MIX Marketplace located across the street at 200 W. Michigan Ave. is an indoor farmer’s market-style outlet for a local entrepreneurs and businesses to showcase their wares.

According to the owners of MIX and MIX Marketplace manager Laura Gillis, the market was designed to help people dip their toe into small business ownership. Because of that, they work hard to make the marketplace easy to participate in.

“I’m in the middle of crafting a response email to a woman who emailed me this morning at 10 a.m.,” Gillis said. “She said, ‘Can I come this evening?’ and the answer is yes. We are as flexible as we can possibly be to give food entrepreneurs and artisans a chance to sell at the marketplace.”

It’s easy, but what about the cost?

“Tuesdays we call it ‘$10 Tuesdays.’ Any vendor can have a booth for just $10,” Gillis said. “That’s the low threshold, which allows an individual young woman like Nicole Williams, who has the Sweet Bar Bakery, to come in. What she sells beyond the vendor fee, plus the costs she’s put in is profit.”

Opened in November of 2011, MIX marketplace opens its doors every Tuesday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Although available for anyone to come in and sell, MIX Marketplace is focused on food.

“We have wonderful food entrepreneurs,” Gillis said. “I mentioned a young woman named Nicole Williams. We have another baker named Emily Jenkins who has Tanglewood Bakery. Sweet Bar brings really beautifully decorated cupcakes, cheesecakes and cookies. Emily… does gorgeous individual cookies and miniature tartlets. Everything she does is sort of
like an individual work of art.”

Alongside everything else the MIX family of stores has to offer, they also serve as a live music and performance theater venue. On Saturdays at the marketplace, shoppers can hear live music from local bands. Bands from around the area are welcomed to involve themselves by contacting the owners of MIX.

MIX’s storefront houses the small MIX Theater. Currently the space is leased to The New Theatre Project who hosts shows in the space. Their next show “If You Start a Fire [Be Prepared to Burn]” opens Feb. 17 and will run through Mar. 4. Performances are Friday through Sunday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 for students or seniors, and $15 for the general public.

If you would like to become involved with any of the MIX properties, contact them at mix-marketplace@hotmail.com or call them at 734-961-8704.

Jerome Stuart NicholsComment