Shop Middle West

The idea that spawned all the late nights was a simple one: a design forward pop-up store of Michigan Made goods. We'd been around. We knew the quality the state had to offer. We also knew that it extended far beyond the "crafty" or the Midwestern kitsch. This was the home of some of the world's foremost product designers, damn straight there was some great stuff being made here. We figured, why not a store that aspires to that fact?  

For two months we scoured the state looking for products that inspired. We went to markets, we asked friends, we buried our noses into our Instagram feeds  - it quickly became apparent that finding enough cool stuff was not going to be the problem. With this in mind we hatched a concept to help us curate with some cohesion: design the store as if it was a living space -the ultimate Made in Michigan apartment. We even named the fictional couple who lived in the space (where have you gone, Sam & Diane Trappings?).

With this plan in mind we reached out to the community makers and artists and designers. Fortunately enough - they listened, they appreciated, and they trusted us with literally thousands of dollars worth of products. With almost zero exceptions, we were able to feature the things that we had found and fallen in love with. The store was going to be filled with cool stuff; now all we had to do was build it. 

A photo studio on S Division in Grand Rapids was the place. With barely a week to work with the hours were long and the help we received from friends was unbelievable. Walls were painted and papered, a kitchen counter and shelves were installed, clothes racks were built, furniture was brought in, art and photos were hung, and every last thing got a price tag tied on.  We finished tidying and adjusting mere minutes before the doors opened, and were somewhat shocked to find that people were waiting outside when we did.

For two days people streamed through. We'd made the conscious decision to fill the precious hours the store was open with events and gatherings. Because of this we were pretty much constantly hosting new groups and constituencies. Word spread and products sold, and when the dust settled it all seemed pretty magical. What had a started as a what if had become something real, and we all knew we'd be chasing that feeling again.

(All Photos by Shutter Sam Photography)