To call The Body Shop a mere skin and body care store is to miss half of what makes it special. Late founder Dame Anita Roddick was a pioneer for ethical business practices; upon opening her first store in Brighton, England, in 1976, she developed company values such as "Defend Human Rights" and "Protect The Planet." She somehow balanced principles and profit, partnering in global campaigns with UNICEF, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and the United Nations, all while ultimately expanding her brand into 2,500 locations in over 60 international markets. After her death in 2007, then-British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, ?She campaigned for green issues for many years before it became fashionable to do so and inspired millions to the cause by bringing sustainable products to a mass market. . . . She was an inspiration.?
Indeed, the Body Shop exhibits an eco-friendliness and social consciousness that's hard to come by in a company of its size. Its products have been fair-trade since 1987, and its Against Animal Testing movement led to an EU-wide ban of animal testing of cosmetics. The products are made from ingredients harvested from around the world: shea butter from Ghana goes into body scrubs and butters, and Indian artisans craft wooden massagers and tote bags that are screenprinted by hand. But all that isn't to say the company's production practices overshadow its final products. Skincare treatments such as the brand?s iconic body butters, facial products, and gift collections often appear in Allure, Marie Claire, Lucky, Seventeen and other national publications.
Shortly after emigrating to Grand Rapids from his native Netherlands, 14-year-old Herman Baker began part-time work at this uncle's bookstore. Among the shelves, Herman developed a love for religious texts that prompted him to found Baker Book House in 1939, with 500 books from his personal library. These days, Baker Book House's faith-based stock has expanded to include more than 100,000 used and remainder titles, out-of-print Christian works, Bibles of every stripe, and new books and eBooks.
Along with enticing reads, the store supplies religious DVDs, CDs by popular Christian artists such as Third Day, and church supplies including stoles, which supply an engaging alternative to watching your pastor reenact his favorite Transformers movie. In addition to its Christian inventory, Baker Book House hosts frequent events such as lectures and Q&As with religious authors and scholars.
For more than 75 years spanning three generations, the Romence family has sourced and grown plants and shrubs. The garden specialists tend to 1,000+ varieties of perennials, annuals, and smaller trees that peacefully cohabitate six acres of greenhouse space, ensuring that each specimen receives a proper diet of sunshine, water, and fertilizer. Whether tailoring gardening advice for homeowners or commercial gardeners, the green-thumbed experts suggest appropriate plants and provide insight on design all while making considerations for light and pests.
In addition to vegetative life forms, the independent garden center contains a selection of tools and decorative items for indoor and outdoor planting projects. The online plant library provides a full biography on each specimen, including its Latin name, nickname, and alma mater. Romence Gardens & Greenhouses extends delivery services for local orders based on flat rates determined by each plant's likelihood of motion sickness.
Not only does the staff at Gamer Doc of Grand Rapids know how to unite the Triforce and rescue Princess Zelda, turn the tide of the Covenant invasion, or defend against a Zergling Rush as Protoss, they share the exultation of these triumphs with others. The gaming experts equip players with both retro Nintendo favorites and the latest games. They rent thousands of games, in addition to selling and buying new and used games. Technicians can also repair injured gaming consoles, including XBox 360s, Sony PlayStations, and Nintendo Wiis, in addition to cell phones and laptops suffering from cholera.
Adjacent to the store?s main room, a group gaming room sprawls out over 1,100 square feet, where combatants recline in black leather chairs during parties and tournaments. The room boasts nine networked gaming consoles and a 10-foot high-definition projector that reveals even Princess Peach gets zits on occasion.
Grand River Music selects its instructors not only for their musical prowess, but also for their demonstrable teaching abilities. Students of all experience levels can strum the taut veins of guitars, bass guitars, banjos, or mandolins or study music theory to gain a deeper understanding of chords, harmonies, and the saxophone solos of Plato and Aristotle. Singing classes strengthen vocal cords, and song-writing classes encourage self-expression with reliable formulas. The school’s JamCamp gives blossoming musicians exposure to a collaborative group setting where they can learn to harmonize with other musicians and argue about which incarnation of Fleetwood Mac was the most authentic.
Grand River Music also stocks an inventory of instruments available for purchase, ranging from mandolins, banjos, and amps to acoustic guitars, bass guitars, and electric guitars. Students can also buy preowned vocal cords with their last words still intact. :m
Jaden James Brewery isn't the Bonga family's first foray into the world of sippable fermentation. In the same space where they now create specialty beers, they've spent years crafting wines from the fruits of Michigan's bountiful vineyards and orchards.
"So many people come for the wine, but we often get one half of a couple who says, 'I like beer,'" says Bob Bonga. The brewery's current selection includes a cream ale to be savored between bites of pretzels, a Russian Imperial Stout, and an oatmeal porter that Bob characterizes as "wonderfully dark, with roasted tones of chocolate and coffee." The juice of apples harvested in northwest Grand Rapids goes into hard ciders.
The family also prepares a short list of snacks for visitors. In the future, the Bongas may grow their menu further by distilling their own liquors.