How to shop like a pro

From vintage clothing to the fiercest frames, these locals are here to help you shop.
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Local businesses abound in Grand Rapids, so much so, it can be hard to know exactly where to go to find what you are looking for. So, this month, we tapped the insiders from several local businesses to get their suggestions on where they shop for different items around the city.

David Abbott
Executive Director, Festival of the Arts
Style Consultant, Fitzgerald’s Men’s Store

It’s hard not to notice David Abbott in a room full of people. Abbott is arguably one of the most stylish men in Grand Rapids. He has a bold style that stands out in a crowd. As the executive director for Festival of the Arts, Abbott is busy helping elevate Grand Rapids artists, and as a style consultant at Fitzgerald’s Men’s Store, he helps other men hone their personal style — from the boardroom to the beach.

EYEGLASSES I love the Conens’ family and the two sister stores of HyperOptik and Cascade Optical.  I have helped so many friends like Brian Kelly, Amy Ruis, Diana Sieger, Kathy Crosby, Jesse Girod, etc. find the best frames. My favorites are Theo and Cutler and Gross. You will even see me in old school Vuarnet.

GRAPHIC T-SHIRTS Honestly, I so enjoy the work of an artist who loves what they do! That for me is Erica Lang at Woosah.  The whole lifestyle brand is perfect, celebrating the energy and spirit of wanderlust and the outdoors.  (I) especially adore what they did in creating Outdoor Coffee.

Clockwise from top left: 12 piece box of variety truffles, $32, Mokaya Chocolate; Statement Sockwear Socks, $12 each, boldSOCKS; Mountain Hardwear Hat, $32, Bill & Paul’s Sporthaus; Patagonia Fleece, $119, Bill & Paul’s Sporthaus; Cutler & Gross cat eye frame M:1322 in red lipstick, $400, HyperOptik; Moscot tortoise frame w/clip in blonde gold, $225, HyperOptik; Stenstroms Fitted Blue Dots Shirt, $295, Fitzgerald’s Men’s Store; Napa Black Velvet Jacket, $1,338, Fitzgerald’s Men’Store; Hestra Gloves, $150, Bill & Paul’s Sporthaus; Theo – Cherry Chocolat in color “electric blue/ dark night”, $575, HyperOptik; T-shirts, $44 each, Woosah.

FORMAL ATTIRE I’m a sucker for creative black tie.  I’ll take a custom dinner jacket (from Fitzgerald’s … occupational hazard) and pair it with black denim and a floral shirt.  While there is nostalgia for the black tie era of Hollywood — I think we all need to have the self-expression in how we want to be at a holiday party. Plus, if you need a lampshade — then most certainly go to Bridge Street Electric!

WINTER GEAR Bill and Paul’s on East Paris.  They have such a great blend of the heritage brands of Woolrich, Pendleton, with a whole load of Patagonia.  They recently remodeled over the past couple of years into a state-of-the-art-store for all your outdoor sports and camping.  I’m old enough to recall the A-Frame in Eastbrook Mall and glad they have stood the test of time.  They are absolutely a Grand Rapids legacy.

ACCESSORIES AND SHOES I’m a sock junkie! boldSOCKS on Division has the largest selection, and for gifting, I love the boys that own and run Rebel in Eastown.  After living in Toronto for three years, I have a fondness for toques, so you’ll see me on the search in craft markets like the UICA’s Holiday Artist Market for the hand-knit creations.

HOME DECOR I’m a mash-up of mid-century and whimsical antiques so you’ll find me wandering through Lost and Found looking for the funky vase and then the Herman Miller outlet store for a treasured piece of heirloom furniture.  My go-to for new furniture is Stonesthrow on Plainfield.  Their team understands the mix of color and pattern with clean lines of mid-century.  Plus, it’s fun to shop in Creston!

FOR A NIGHT OUT, WHERE DO YOU GO Two of my favorites are gone — Grove and ZOKO.  It’s always so sad when good places bid farewell.  Dressing to match the food can be so much fun.  You gotta wear pink to have dinner with Chef Jenna at Amore, a vintage T-shirt and jeans with Jack Purcells when getting soup at Uncle Cheetah’s, or a crisp white shirt, dark denim, blazer and a bright pocket square when heading to MeXo or Sandy Point Beach House.

OTHER SHOUTOUTS Mokaya Chocolate!  I grew up working for Mary Ann’s Chocolates and I truly appreciate the artistry of the Mokaya team.  It has become my surprise and delight gift for family and friends.  Definitely try the wine-flight of truffles.  Holy crap are they good. Sovereign Arms Tattoo Parlor. Yup!  This EGR born and raised boy inked up a bit.  After surviving cancer five times, I have added one design after rounds three, four and five.  Their team provides such iconic work with individual creativity.  I’m ready to add to the collection now without a cancer reason — just enjoy the accessory and the story on me and others.


Amber Brandt
Owner, The Coziness Consultant

Amber Brandt

The “coziness consultant” Amber Brandt definitely knows how to create a relaxing environment. With clients ranging from The Sovengard to individuals wanting a hygge makeover for their home, Brandt has scoped out all the local retail shops in town to find the best for different items. Let her help you cozy-up your home.

HOLIDAY DECOR Eastown Antiques is my favorite place to find kitschy antique ornaments like Grandma used to have. And, I can always find just the right amount of holiday sparkle for my mantel or tablescape with accessories from the home décor section at Horrocks Market.

EVERYDAY DECOR  I love incorporating elements from a variety of decorating styles for an eclectic and welcoming look, and The Found Cottage does it beautifully. They offer unique items for every room in your home and their adjoining Mercantile Market features a variety of vendors and styles. For accessories that are fun, on-trend and a little irreverent, Chip and Dann at Rebel hit a home run every time.

FURNITURE If you have a soft spot for mid-mod accent chairs, cabinets and dining sets, you won’t find a more curated collection than Lost and Found Antiques. I’m always consistently blown away by the selection at Elevated Grand Rapids off Clyde Park, too — I think they’re GR’s best kept secret.

COMFY WARDROBE ITEMS Pink + Frillos in Greenville is worth the drive. Owner April always offers a special collection of clothes that look beautiful and are deceptively cozy. If you’ve ever breezed through Urban Exchange you already know they provide only quality consigned pieces in excellent condition. You’re sure to find cozy pieces you’ll wear for years to come — and save money, too.

HOUSEWARMING GIFTS When you give a housewarming gift that’s beautiful, practical and one-of-a-kind it isn’t soon forgotten. Every time I visit The Counting House or Art of the Table I find something I feel proud to give, that’s always received with rave reviews. (I can’t be blamed if I buy one for myself too.)

SCENTED CANDLES Many people are delighted to discover Simply Curated Candles are hand poured right here in GR. They’re elegant, classic and smell delicious. You can also visit Wax Poetic for a fun, hands-on experience of creating a custom-scented candle of your own.

OTHER LOCAL BRANDS YOU LOVE Knots of Love Studios, Lief Design, Treetops Collective, Chelsea Michal Garter Art. I love each of these local brands because they’re owned by amazing women doing amazing work in the world. Please remember to support local artists this season. There’s nothing better than handmade — especially when those hands represent really good hearts.

FAVORITE RESTAURANT FOR COMFORT FOOD For the ultimate in comfort food, I love the paneer makhani at Bombay Cuisine, the chicken tenders and sides at Hancock GR and the mac and cheese at Electric Cheetah. Warms my heart and belly every time!


Dr. Lynn Happel
Owner and veterinarian, Eastown Veterinary Clinic

Dr. Happel

Veterinarian Dr. Lynn Happel has a bustling practice in Eastown that sees hundreds of pets. She also is the proud pet mama to Addie (a six-year-old husky mix), Rogue (a four-year-old lab mix), Lola (a two-year-old great dane/mastiff), and Sweetie Black (a nine-year-old short hair black kitty), so it’s no surprise Happel knows where to go for all things pet-related.

GROOMING Leah Bell — our groomer that works out of the clinic. The de-shedding treatment she does for my husky is amazing.

DOG PARK We like to walk the trails at Seidman Park. And, Dr. Brockman takes her dog to Shaggy Pines and loves it.

PET-FRIENDLY PATIOS With three dogs, we feel a little guilty choosing just one … but when we do, we like Harmony Brewing Company, Paddock Place and Furniture City Creamery.

PET SUPPLIES Pet Supplies Plus or Chow Hound. Do check with your veterinarian as some toys are too hard and will break teeth, and grain-free diets have been linked with heart disease.

OTHER FAVORITES Fido & Stitch. They carry several unique pet products.


Amy Baird
General Manager, The Commons

Amy Baird

Amy Baird is always scoping out local vintage stores to score new pieces of clothing, décor and art for her home. Baird has long loved vintage and her current job at The Commons seems to be a perfect fit with the restaurant’s ‘70s throwback theme. We asked Amy to share her favorite stores for vintage finds.

VINTAGE FURNITURE Hands down, Lost & Found, forever. I have been in love with that place for over a decade now, especially since they have expanded and have more vendors. They have the most variety and I feel like they tend to have things that I end up buying not knowing that I needed all along, which is a good thing and a bad thing — mostly good. I’ve been able to find really special pieces there, anything from chairs to wall decor, knit blankets, the list goes on.

HOLIDAY DECOR New 2 You Shoppe has surprised me. They have a location on 29th Street. They’re really good at keeping up with the seasons and have a lot of lightly used items, vintage and more contemporary. Anything from holiday plate sets to decor, they have a great selection for the seasons.

Clockwise from top left: Ivory dress, $12; peral and gold earrings, $2; pearl and gold bracelet, $3.25, New 2 You. Red Dirt Silver Clutch, $34.99, Adored. Ivory and gold tea cup and plate, $2 each; place mats, $.50 each, New 2 You. Trunk suitcase, $17.99, At Home. Beverly & 3rd Candle Co., $18.95. Organic tea viles, $20.95, Rebel. Blue candlestick holders, $20; Foreinger vinyl $15, Lost and Found. Books, prices vary. Gold heels, $8, New 2 You. Blue opaline atomizer, $13, Wally’s Treasure Antique Mall.

HOLIDAY PARTY OUTFIT I, of course, always try to support local businesses when it comes to finding unique items to wear. Blue Door Antiques has been a great spot for me to find items to pull together outfits, whether it be adding a brooch or a statement necklace or a velvet and tulle skirt — they have some timeless new and vintage pieces that can make your current wardrobe feel new again.

NEW ITEMS WITH A VINTAGE LOOK When I’m not scoping out the local antique stores, I’ve always been a huge fan of At Home. They’re great for filling in the gaps for home decor to fit in with my vintage pieces. As far as clothing goes, I’ve been really enjoying Adored Boutique off of Cherry Street. They are great at closely following the trends and have a lot of great basics for your wardrobe that have a throwback feel.

WHITE ELEPHANT GIFT FOR THE HOLIDAY STAFF PARTY Wally’s Treasures Antique Mall is operating as an outdoor “flea market” in their parking lot currently due to COVID. They have a great selection of odds and ends that I find wonderfully random if you’re looking for a great memorable gift on a budget.

WHEN YOU ARE HEADING OUT FOR THE NIGHT AND WANT A NOSTALGIC FEEL After work, I would always find myself stopping at Buffalo Trader’s Lounge on my way home. Their staff truly makes you feel at home and they are great at reinventing your palate and appreciation for craft cocktails.


Valerie James
Fitness Instructor, VSJ Fitness

Valerie James

Valerie James is a certified personal trainer who started her business, VSJ Fitness, in 2019. A former collegiate athlete, James was looking for a way to “stay active but not as intense as the training I experienced with track.” She became certified in Zumba, Barre, HIIT, TRX and kickboxing, and is currently working on her yoga certification. There’s no question that James practically lives in her workout clothing. So, we asked James to share her favorite local shops (and a few national chains) with us.

FITNESS GEAR I love going to Target to see what in-home equipment I can find, from yoga mats to boxing gloves, I can usually find what I need there. I also use Amazon to find gear that is affordable, especially for my clients. I’ve been able to find ankle weights, aerobic step and long loop body bands. I recently launched a resistance band product as a way for my clients and community members to have access to hip/booty bands that are non-slip and fit all body types. The VSJ Fit Bands are $29.99 and come in sets of three.

FITNESS CLOTHING I absolutely love my DIY leggings from To & Fro because they are high waisted and high impact fitting. The high impact style leggings are well fitted for squats, dancing or just overall working out. I also love the Ultimate Female sports bra from SheFit. I feel so secure when I am teaching Zumba or kickboxing. The bras offer awesome coverage and support. My favorite shoes are the Nike Zoom, because they provide more support for high impact workouts that includes arch support to help prevent injuries.

SELF-CARE I go to NV Massage for my facials, massages and waxing. Their therapists provide the best deep tissue massages, especially after a lot of training or exercising. Their products leave my skin feeling soft. Hair care is important to me as part of my self-care since I am natural and sweat a lot. I go to the Rise Salon for hair treatment. To protect my curls, I use a product called the Curl Case which was created by local blogger Wear Your Curls. My favorite products to use for daily treatment and maintenance are from an Illinois-based small business Flawless Blends. I go to Fantastic Nails for manicures and pedicures. I love going to Eyes by India in Rivertown Mall for eyebrow threading. I love body butters from local business Shea Butter Cups. My favorite scent is the Japanese Cherry Blossom.

TO FUEL UP AFTER A WORKOUT After a training session I love to go to Clean Juice or Malamiah Juice Bar for a protein smoothie or juice shots to help keep me energized and feeling refreshed.

AFTER WORKOUT BRUNCH My favorite post-workout brunch is Forty Acres, especially after a HIIT workout session. I love their stuffed chicken and waffles!

OTHER SHOUTOUTS I love to work with A1 Sporting for graphic designing and T-shirts for my business. Bare All Clothing is another local business I support for more comfortable athleisure wear. I enjoy going to Squibb Coffee for meet-ups and networking opportunities. I love to go to Monelli’s restaurant in Byron Center for dinner and a night out with friends.

Portrait photography by Michelle Cuppy, product photography by Angela Ciccu.

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