Corey Haubenstricker stood amid buildings in downtown Vassar — where seven new businesses opened in 2016 — and told of his plan to keep the momentum going inside the East Huron Market.
“I think (Vassar City Manager) Brian Chapman said it well in the paper: We want to keep our momentum going, and if this is my part of keeping the momentum going, so be it,” said Haubenstricker, telling of his plan to open East Huron Market inside a building he owns at 164 E. Huron Ave.
The newly-named store — at the former site of Haubenstricker’s business, Timber Oaks Landscaping & Turf Management — will house “retail space for some entry-level businesses” indoors and outdoors.
“I’m just trying to give someone an inexpensive place to call home, especially if somebody’s just starting out,” Haubenstricker said. “Whether they’re making crafts or whatever it might be, there are so many small little businesses that have just started up out of their houses and they just need a little space to call home.”
Haubenstricker projects the business to open, with several merchants operating inside it, by early summer. He said the market will remain open year-round, with Wi-Fi for merchants wanting to make credit-card sales.
“If there are food items for sale, that’s fine,” Haubenstricker said. “We’re really promoting art and music as well. We don’t want to pigeonhole ourselves into housing one specific genre of merchants.
“This is a space for new and upcoming entrepreneurs who need an outlet.”
Haubenstricker envisions eight businesses eventually could set up shop inside his 1,500-square-foot building in Vassar, with up to 12 businesses operating outside the building much of the year beneath 10-foot-wide awnings he hopes to construct off both sides of the building.
Workers will renovate the building’s façade, too, at some point, he said.
“We’ll make it look like an old barn, and paint it a red color, I would imagine,” Haubenstricker said.
Vassar’s new businesses in 2016 included three new restaurants, a bakery and an ice cream store. Vassar merchants also created a pair of first-time festivals last year.
Haubenstricker predicts the East Huron Market, located between the Moore Drain and Veteran Plaza, “is really going to help when we have events — it’s really going to motivate people to come into town, and it’s just one more reason to help promote our downtown.”
He recalled visiting merchants that sold merchandise inside the School Haus Square shopping mall that once operated in Frankenmuth inside a multi-story former school building along Main Street.
“I remember when they had the School Haus Square, they had those little rooms and those little shops, and we used to buy baseball cards there,” he said. “We have family in Seattle, and when you go to the marketplace there, it’s the same thing. They have little shops around there.”
He plans to apply for grants to help pay for the project, but noted that if grants aren’t awarded “It’s not going to impede my project.”
He declined to estimate how much he’ll spend to renovate the building and construct a new façade.
“I’m really trying to do this in phases and pay for it out of pocket if I can,” Haubenstricker said. “Right now we’re concentrating on minor renovations inside and we’ll get that done by spring.”
Merchants wishing to rent space at the East Huron Market may call Haubenstricker at 989-529-9184.
“Everybody’s responsible for their own space,” he said. “There will be a lockable door for each spot.”
Haubenstricker has moved his business, Timber Oaks Landscaping & Turf Management, to a building he purchased at 211 Sherman St. in Vassar.
“With my other businesses, I’ve started out of our house and in our basement, and made an office in the garage,” Haubenstricker said. “I’ve been there. I’ve taken those baby steps. I didn’t want to just put a ‘For Rent’ sign on this building and make do with whatever.”
The building that will house East Huron Market was purchased by Haubenstricker three years ago.
“The downtown was struggling at the time,” he said. “It just fit my needs fine at the time. But we’ve had six to eight new businesses come downtown, and it really pushed my landscaping business outside of the downtown, which is good.
“I’m glad that happened, and I’m just trying to create opportunity for new entrepreneurs.”
Tom Gilchrist is a reporter for The Advertiser and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org