This article is from the April 2019 Grand Rapids Magazine. Available on newsstands now or via subscription.
Twenty-five years ago, Jaye Van Lenten and Jackie Bess embarked on a journey to bring holistic health and wellness to Grand Rapids. They purchased the building for Spirit Dreams in 1994, converting the former bank into what is now the beloved neighborhood shop.
The Eastown anchor, at 1430 Lake Drive SE, is dedicated to providing products and resources to aid in holistic health, wellness and spiritual growth. Customers can find a wide selection of gemstones, natural aromatherapy, jewelry, cards and unique gifts, in addition to services including psychic readings and reiki practitioners.
“We really are about providing information and helping people understand what we have here,” Van Lenten said. “People come here for help and information.”
Since the beginning, the mission and vision of Spirit Dreams have extended beyond traditional business. Van Lenten and Bess said they have made it a priority to honor local artisans, source products ethically and contribute to local nonprofits.
“When we bought the business, our journey was to run an ethical business. It was very important to us who and where we buy our products from — that we support local artists whenever possible,” Van Lenten said.
The pair said they make it a point to support social causes and local nonprofits that align with their values, focusing on economic issues, diversity, women’s health and family health. “The selling of the ‘Kindness Matters’ signs and T-shirts have been of tremendous importance to us,” Van Lenten said.
Spirit Dreams donated proceeds from the signs to nonprofits including Catherine’s Health Center, the YWCA and Planned Parenthood. As animal lovers, the Humane Society, Vicky’s Pet Connection and Mackenzie’s Animal Sanctuary also are important to Van Lenten and Bess. You can often see the store cat and dog, George and Sadie, roaming around the store.
When asked about advice for small business owners, Van Lenten said, “Be thorough and creative and persistent.” They said they owe much of their success to having a good business plan and business partner, in addition to firm values for guidance. “Follow your passion, do what you love and love what you do,” Van Lenten added.
Staying true to these values has been important to the success of Spirit Dreams — that, and community. “We have people that come in who remember their mother or father bringing them in as a kid,” Van Lenten said. “There’s something very heartwarming about that.”
Photo by Johnny Quirin