KINGSLEY — Come for a massage, stay for the Christian-themed gift shop. Stop by the Folk School, discover the chiropractor’s office.
There’s a lot going on in a 2,000-square-foot building at 108 W. Main St. in downtown Kingsley. It started when Stacey Walton moved her Chickadees Gift Shop and Peaceful Touch Therapy & Massage into the space in the fall of 2020.
Shortly after Walton moved the two businesses she owns into the building, Dr. Katy Gorman Chiropractic made it a trio just to the west of the four-way intersection where North Brownson Avenue and West Main Street meet.
When Papano’s Pizza of Kingsley moved its business office and training center out of the west side of the building in August 2021, Walton took over lease of the entire building, allowing Gorman to build an office on the northwest side of the building.
Kingsley Folk School moved into the southwest corner of the building late in 2021 to bring a fourth business.
And while it may sound a little strange to have four businesses operating in one building, nothing is further from the truth for its lead tenant.
“I feel like it’s right,” Walton said. “I feel that in order for each one to be successful, it’s a unique partnership where we can help build each other’s businesses by being right in the same space.”
Besides, it’s more than four businesses thrown together randomly.
“They are and they aren’t,” said Folk School founder Sierra Bigham, who has operated Bear Earth Herbals since 2014 and has operated a farm east of the village since August 2018. “For me, it’s kind of a dream to have like-minded people all working toward wellness. To me, I also love the fact that there are all women-run businesses in that space. It’s working out well for all of us.
“We’re able to make it all work with all our schedules and all our differences. It’s really an interesting model.”
Kingsley Village Manager Dan Hawkins said Walton deserves kudos for making the most out of the space. He said it’s another example of communities doing what it takes to not only compete, but thrive. Hawkins said it’s even more important when there may not be a draw like a lake or sand dunes nearby.
“For a village manager of a small town, that’s what it’s all about,” Hawkins said. “Pivoting is an overused word, but small towns have incorporated the definition of pivoting long before the pandemic came around. If you’re a small town and you haven’t pivoted, you’re done.
“If you’re not innovating and being creative in a small town, then you’re doing a disservice to the people you’re supposed to serve, especially when you don’t have geographic surroundings that do the work for you.”
Walton opened Chickadees and Peaceful Touch in June 2020 at 108 E. Main St. for four months before moving a short distance away. Walton worked in massage full-time for 5 years and as a side business for 13 years prior, when she was a physical therapist assistant.
“Never in my life did I plan on doing retail,” she said. “Never say never. It was a small idea that came to be.”
Chickadees is the first space you enter when coming through the front door. It’s a Christian-themed store, but Walton said it also contains “a collection of good things.” Chickadees also supports about 20 consigners.
There is another separate room behind the main gift store space with other products for sale. A second room behind that is for Peaceful Touch, complete with a single table.
Chickadees is open Monday through Friday from 3-6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“We’re always open for VIP shopping,” she added. “I’m here during the day, I just can’t be in two places at once.”
Peaceful Touch operates Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. Walton said she averages about 15 massage clients a week. She has a white noise machine, but knows it may not eliminate all the background din.
“My massage is more therapeutic,” she said. “There’s that level of understanding that there is going to be some noise, which is OK.”
A small book nook and sliding door beyond separates the two sides of the building. The northwest corner of the building is where Gorman has her chiropractic room at the back of the building. There’s a small reception area as well.
Gorman first opened in the room on the east side of the building in October 2020 before carving out more space on the opposite side. She is a partner at Spinal Solutions with two other chiropractors in Traverse City at 2506 Crossing Circle.
Gorman practices in Traverse City from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday and from 9 a.m. to noon on Tuesday. She’s in Kingsley from 1-6 p.m. on Tuesday and recently added hours from 9 a.m. to noon on Thursday.
“It’s been really good,” Gorman said of the auxiliary location. “I said I’d give it a year and I’m still here.”
Gorman said habits changed during the pandemic and being able to meet clients closer to home has been beneficial. She added students also have access to chiropractic care, especially those who may be in a sport.
“A lot of people are working from home and they didn’t get to Traverse City as much,” Gorman said. “Plus the older population didn’t want to drive to Traverse City. Then the kids after school often find its hard to get into town and get back to practice, a game or whatever they’re doing.”
The newest business in the building is Kingsley Folk School. Bigham and fiancée Kevin LaRose started in October 2021 with a few classes and added more in November. Most of these are in the evening or Saturdays, but Kingsley Folk School will start offering weekday morning classes in Early Childhood Music Education and Qigong.
“We offer a variety of folk-style classes for all ages including basket-making, music, herbalism, painting, fiber art, soap-making,” said Bigham, who will also be the Kingsley Farmers Market manager on Wednesdays in Brownson Park. “We have a lot of other cool offerings on the docket coming up.”
Bigham said the community has reacted favorably without a lot of promotion.
“I feel we’re just at the beginning of the adventure,” Bigham said. “I’m excited to see where Kingsley Folk School goes. I think it has a lot of potential. The community of Kingsley is ripe for something like this.”
Having four businesses in one building certainly helps cut costs for everyone involved.
“It helps to have the other businesses here to keep the gift store open, at least at this stage,” Walton said.
But the gift shop takes the lead in other ways.
“By having people come into the gift store, they discover that there are three other businesses in the same space,” Walton said.
“From the outside, you’re like, ‘There’s four businesses in there?’” Gorman said. “We all have our own little space. Having them in here is great. They’ll take a class and say, ‘I didn’t know there was a chiropractor here?’”
Like Bigham said about Kingsley Folk School, Walton also said, “It’s exciting to see where our futures can go.”
“I tried to bring in a unique collection of things that people could get in Traverse City, but come here,” Walton said.
Several of the business owners and Hawkins said getting people in the door of one building in downtown Kingsley will also have an impact on the rest of the village, which in recent years has added a dentist and optometrist.
“Stacey Walton perfectly personifies that concept of staying creative, being innovative and staying in tune to what the community needs,” Hawkins said. “The bottom line is you’re doing it for the betterment of everybody.”