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Guest Writer: Louise Hopson

A Little History

Lakeside Business District is a unique area in the city of Muskegon. Running along Lakeshore Drive, it is a pedestrian friendly Shopping District. The business district is a combination of historical, newer, and some residential buildings. The neighborhood is mostly older construction. There are homes that were originally built to house lumbermill workers.
 
In 1870, it consisted of a small string of houses. In 1883, with a population of 1702, Lakeside was incorporated as a village. In 1888 it became part of the city of Muskegon. Lakeside was known for the Chase Brothers Piano Factory, Estes Street Fairgrounds and it’s sawmills.  Many of the business owners were founding fathers with large homes located downtown. They include: A.V. Mann, J.W. Moon, Essau Torrent, Seth Estes, Henry Bourdon, Delos Blodgett and Newcomb McGraft. All these men have streets named for them.  Louis Wasserman opened the first Wassermann’s floral and gifts in 1884 in Lakeside. Muskegon’s oldest business, it still thrives today, run by descendants, Angie Nelund and Troy Wasserman.

Today’s Businesses

When you walk into Wassermans (Muskegon’s oldest business!) you are first met with the heady scent of flowers and the beauty of every kind of bloom imaginable. Fabulous arrangements line the walls and cases and live plants are everywhere.
            
 
The Wasserman’s Floral and Gifts of today has expanded. It is a favorite place for locals to purchase presents and garden décor as well as flowers for every occasion. Their floral design is second to none and customer service is impeccable. The outside deck is a cornucopia of color in summer and sparkles with Holiday Cheer during the Christmas Holiday Season.
            

 

Further west on Lakeshore Drive, Barb Gibner’s Lakeside Landings has found it’s sales niche with Lakeside and Muskegon themed wearables.

              

Hats, tee shirts, hoodies, even onesies for babies line the walls.  And clever signs like “This way to the beach” are a hit with customers. Opened in 2004, Barb saw an opportunity with news that the Lake Express was coming to Lakeside. The Gibners also have a history in Lakeside-Bill Gibner was the pharmacist and owner of Runzel’s pharmacy and they own the building Lakeside Landings occupies

             

 

Lakeside Emporium opened its doors in 2003. Owners Gary and Laureen Samples describe their business as “Purveyors of all things pleasant” and their business at 1930 Lakeshore Drive is every child’s dream. Jars of delicious sweets line the walls and the candy counter is filled with chocolates in trays. Over the last 15 years they have built a clientele of repeat customers and developed a reputation for service with a smile.

             

Laureen’s dad, Bill Felinski had a gas station in the same building and her grandfather Leo Lappo had a business further down at the site of Lakeshore Bait and Tackle. Laureen has a history in Lakeside and she wanted to be a part of the community she grew up in. Lakeside Emporium celebrates their anniversary every year in June. LEAP (Lakeside Emporium Anniversary Party). features bands, discounts and big fun and is designed as a thank you for customers.

             

 

Next door, Max and Marley’s Dog House (named after twin Yorkies) is hopping with customers. Opened in 2009 and is now a successful staple in a location that once housed an A&W and a US 31 BBQ. Their menu, featuring a multitude (23) of gourmet all beef hot-dog offerings, has been a winner and has been expanded to include burgers, shakes, onion rings and other delicious fare. Family recipes like the relish for “The Ripper Dog” and the friendly atmosphere keep both locals and vacationers coming back for more.

 

        

 

Across the street at BananaDogStore. Owner Cindy Moyer is ordering tea. The shop carries over 70 different blends of loose tea and an inviting assortment of teapots, strainers, cups, spoons and all things tea. They also sell chai, smoothies, snacks and coffee drinks in a tiny space in one of the oldest buildings on Lakeshore Drive (one of the originals buildings left from the logging era, over 100 years old.).

            

 

Owners, sisters Diana McConnell and Cindy Moyer opened in 2012 and spent a year researching their vendors and searching for quality products to carry. They began at the Farmers Market and came to Lakeside because they grew up in the area and wanted to be part of the neighborhood.

         

 

Two blocks east at The Village Gift Shoppe, Lora Workman is carefully arranging candy in her vintage display case. She got into making candy almost by accident and loves creating new flavors and treats. Her line of DROPPS, bite sized candies in dozens of flavors fly out the door (who can choose just one flavor?) as does her most recent invention, “Sea glass” candy that looks like bits of water tumbled glass.

             

Besides sweets one can find a vast assortment of gifts and treasures. Her byline of “Look up, Look Down, look all Around” is pertinent. There are fun and affordable gifts tucked into every space. The Village Gift Shoppe, opened in 2004 shares a building with Art Cats Gallery at 1845 Lakeshore Drive.

            

 

Art Cats Gallery opened in 1999 and carries handmade jewelry, pottery, glass original paintings and prints and fun home accessories. It is the place to go for unique and heirloom quality gifts in Lakeside and has developed a go to reputation among locals and vacationers to Muskegon. The vibe inside is colorful and upbeat and the small space is brimming with enticing and artistic possibilities for purchasing.

                

 

The studio of owner Louise Hopson is adjacent, and her vibrant and joyful clay pieces are in abundance in the gallery. Her “Little Bowls of Happiness” are big sellers and she is currently working on a large mosaic in her studio. “Our gallery is a destination” she says. People come here because they want something special. We just help them figure out exactly what that is.” With work by 70+ artists and craftspeople it is easy to find something wonderful for everyone. Hopson features several “Shopping for a Cause ‘Events every year, always partnering with local non-profits.

                

Find out more about Lakeside at lakesidedistrict.com

Installment 1 of “Discover Lakeside” by Louise Hopson