Go out for food and drinks, or go shopping: why choose? These three Southwest Michigan-based mobile shops make it possible to browse for gifts, jewelry, clothes, books, and even plants on-site so you can make the most of your leisure time.
While driving up the coast last summer, sisters Jocelyne and Audrey Tuszynski, both passionate readers, noted that every beach town they passed seemed to have an independent bookstore except Audrey’s hometown of New Buffalo. “Maybe we should open one,” suggested Audrey. “Obviously,” responded Jocelyne. From there, the idea grew. Maybe the store should be mobile, instead of a fixed brick-and-mortar – Audrey’s fiancee pointed out that they had a storage trailer they could use. And maybe they could sell plants as well – another passionate hobby of Jocelyne’s.
Even with all that idea-generating, the sisters didn’t waste time. Within a week, the pair had renovated the interior of the 6-by-10-foot trailer, finalized their logo, and met with the Women’s Business Center to file paperwork. Flourish Books & Plants was in business as a mobile shop selling a variety of used and new titles plus potted plants in a homey, cozy little shop that beckons browsers and invites them to stay awhile.
Flourish’s first full season started in April 2021, and has been “unbelievable,” Jocelyne says. While zoning and DDA regulations have made it tricky to operate in some Berrien County cities and towns, they’ve had great luck doing business at farmer’s markets and venues like Lemon Creek Winery in Baroda and Peat’s Cider Social in Stevensville.
While they’ve amassed a band of loyal fans who follow Flourish from location to location, “we mostly gain new customers at every event,” Jocelyne says. She notes that their regular customers often show up with their arms full of book donations: “It is lovely.”
The most surprising thing to Jocelyne has been how much she’s been able to connect with customers. “I’ve been surprised at how many want my opinion on titles or authors, and ask which of the books on our shelves are my favorite. I recently discovered Jenny Colgan and her Scottish Bookshop Series, and just last week a customer walked up to the book nook with open arms exclaiming “It’s here! Nina’s book van!” She giggled, I cried.”
A mobile business brings with it some unique challenges, like heat and storms (Jocelyne jokingly references the recent “pop-up monsoon” that nearly had them floating away in Lemon Creek Winery), but overall the pair couldn’t be happier with their shop. For Jocelyne, who decided to leave an uncertain career in order to pursue this dream, it’s particularly meaningful. “Leaving my job and opening Flourish has been so incredibly rewarding. I am happy, I am emotional, I am excited every day,” Jocelyne says.
Krystan Iazetto worked as a clothing sales rep in both Dallas and Atlanta for several years, and loved the experience – so when Covid hit and Krystan decided to move back to Southwest Michigan, leaving the fashion industry was tough – so she decided to work toward her dream of opening a boutique.
While starting a shop online may have seemed like the easiest route to take, Krystan knew how hard it can be to build a digital brand and gain traffic. So when a friend from church invited her to sell her wares at a pop-up event in her garage as part of her launch, Krystan decided to give it a try and was pleasantly surprised by how well she did. She tried a few more pop-ups and markets, and “I was shocked by the success I had at them!”
Now, The Love Spell Boutique is a regular fixture at Berrien County events like the New Buffalo Farmer’s Market and venues like Lemon Creek Winery, where you can buy her clothing, jewelry, and accessories. Check out an up-to-date calendar of upcoming locations and dates on The Love Spell Boutique’s Facebook page.
A former teacher, Robin Quackenbush has always loved inspiring others. With her love of hand stamping and creating in the mix, starting a business sharing her creations felt only natural. Quackenbush started Mitten Beach Designs in the summer of 2019, selling upcycled bracelets, earrings, necklaces and key rings from discarded belts.
“Since leaving teaching , I continue to want to inspire others,” Robin says. “Simple words can definitely do that. I find motivational phrases and hand stamp them on many of my pieces. My tag line is #DiscoverYourWords.”
Mitten Beach Designs travels between Southwest Michigan craft shows and farmer’s markets, and her designs can also be found at The Hidden Gem in New Buffalo. “Being mobile gives me the flexibility to share my pieces at many different venues without being tied to one location,” Robin says. “I love meeting people from different communities who I might not get to interact with at a brick and mortar location. It’s all about the human connection that drives my passion.”
Look for an updated calendar on Mitten Beach Designs’ Facebook page.