Green Island Closing After 20 Years Downtown; New Boutique Coming To Space

After 20 years in downtown Traverse City – including 10 years on Union Street and the last decade at 120 East Front Street – eco-friendly home goods store Green Island is closing its doors. The store has stocked up inventory for the holidays and will host one final Christmas shopping season with customers before closing permanently on January 8, according to owner Lori Burns. A tenant is already lined up to take over the high-profile space, with Lisa Dykema set to open an upscale clothing boutique called l.a.cool in April.

According to Burns, several factors led to the decision to close, including a desire to try something new after 20 years, rising downtown rents, and increased marketplace competition. The store was a pioneer in selling products like non-toxic mattresses, organic linens and baby clothing, natural furniture, and Earth-friendly home décor when it first opened. “When we started, a lot of people didn’t even know what organic and green products were,” says Burns. “It’s hit the mainstream now. There is a certain sector of the population that knows they can go to Target and get it. We were a little ahead of our time…and it has gotten harder, in a way, because people can find it everywhere now.”

Burns says the decision to close was a “long time coming,” adding that she would’ve liked to scale down to a smaller space in Traverse City but couldn’t find anything in the red-hot real estate market. However, Green Island will continue to have an online retail presence after the brick-and-mortar store closes in January. Green Island will offer a closing sale for in-store products starting this week. Burns says nearly everything in the store will be up for sale, including fixtures and furniture.

The storefront won’t stay empty for long: New tenant Lisa Dykema (pictured, right) takes over the space on January 10, the day after Green Island’s lease is up, according to realtor Dan Stiebel. After retiring as vice president of finance for the Wisconsin-based manufacturing business Dykema and her husband owned, she says she was ready to take on a new challenge as the family spent more time in northern Michigan at their Elk Lake cottage. “I was thinking about what I wanted to do in this second chapter,” she says. “I had worked in a retail clothing boutique when I was teenager; my mom owned the store. I always missed that and knew I would love to have a clothing store.”

Dykema plans to open an upscale clothing boutique and accompanying online retail store in April called l.a.cool (the name is taken from her own – Dykema’s full name is Lisa Anne Cool Dykema). The name also reflects the ambiance Dykema plans to bring to the business. “The aesthetic is casual, laidback clothing with some more formal items that will still have a resort feel,” she says. “A lot of dresses, jackets, sweaters, tops and bottoms, some leisure and denim clothing, skincare, jewelry, hats, scarves, handbags, shoes, gifts.” Dykema, who spoke to The Ticker from New York on a shopping trip to buy inventory, says she’s aiming to offer products not widely available downtown, including swimwear/cover-ups and high-end lines that will be exclusive to her Traverse City store. She cites Ulla Johnson, Cult Gaia, Xirena, and Jonathan Simkhai as examples of fashion brands she intends to feature.

Dykema is also planning to make some modifications to the space, notably the entrance. “I’m starting the buildout in January and will be replacing the front entry by pushing it out the exact same way it is next door at (Brilliant Books),” she says. “I will have full-length windows that extend up to where they were originally. I was so excited to see what Golden Shoes is doing, because it’s very complementary to what we are doing. It’s creating an entrance on Front Street that is going to be more historical and keeping with what used to be there before. It’s more of a wow factor so people notice the store.”

In other retail and restaurant news…
> The Elk Rapids General Store is undergoing an expansion as well as a concept and name change at 127 River Street. According to owner Karen Simpson, the store will be “more of a specialty grocery store with deli takeout food and a bigger product selection than what we have now.” She notes it can be a struggle to attract customers in the winter, one of the factors driving the improvements. “We need more sustainable, year-round, compelling reasons to come here,” she says. The store will be rebranded to River Street Market, with the name change likely to come in late January, according to Simpson.

> Vegan restaurant Rad.ish Street Food is closing its doors this month inside The Coin Slot on East Front Street. Operators Lisa and Ryan Moberly posted on Facebook that the duo would not be renewing their lease for 2022 so that they could go back to focusing on their food truck operation. Rad.ish Mexican Street Food, a separate food stall operating out of Stone Hound Brewing Company in Acme, will remain open, according to the Moberlys. “We will keep you posted on our progress and where our Rad.ish Food Truck ends up next,” the couple wrote in their post.

> The Dollar General store on Cougar Trail in Kingsley recently had to temporarily close its doors because of a fire in the store’s HVAC system, according to the Kingsley Downtown Development Authority. The store is reopening, but will have reduced hours for the immediate future, according to the DDA. The new hours will be 10am-5pm daily until further notice.