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.
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.
Michigan Awesome's collection of tank tops, tees, hoodies, and baby onesies burst at the seams with civic pride for the Great Lakes State. The company's apparel comes emblazoned with clever geographical slogans “Smitten with the Mitten” and “Home Is Where The Hand Is.” Their shirts also give shout-outs to cities such as Flint, Grand Rapids, and Detroit, and proudly state “4 out of 5 Great Lakes Prefer Michigan.” Made from durable American Apparel cotton shirt material and screen-printed in the state itself, the tops combine striking colors and cleverness to leave regional rivals green with envy. Michigan Awesome also helps drivers rep their state while on the road, slapping many of their most popular slogans on eye-catching stickers.
As conveyed through its name, Nomad Anglers stocks gear, equipment, and apparel for outdoors adventures both near and far. With a history that stretches back to 1989, the business has prepared anglers for all types of trips, and today, features such major brands as Orvis, Patagonia, and Simms. In addition to its wealth of products, Nomad also helps customers reel in education with fly-fishing classes, free seminars, and local fishing reports.