New in town
|By ALLAN I. ROSS|
Biggby coffee & Greener planet gardeningEarlier this year, Biggby Coffee moved up to No. 255 on Entrepreneur Magazine´s Annual Franchise 500 list, essentially making their signature black-on-orange “B” the second most distinguished letter to come out of East Lansing since a certain white-on-green “S.” With franchises throughout the Midwest — and locations in Texas and Florida coming soon — it’s safe to say Biggby has got the area covered.
Well, maybe not yet, but they’re working on it. Exhibit A: the new Biggby that opened last week in downtown Lansing’s Stadium District. Formerly the site of Great Lakes Chocolate & Coffee, this new location represents a bold move for the franchise — a drive-thru window.
“It’s actually our second drive-thru window, but the proximity to the downtown area, to Sparrow (Hospital) and to the Lansing Center is going to ensure that it gets a lot more use,” says operations manager Chris Mowers. “We’re expecting big things.”
Keep those replacement hinges ready, buddy. Mowers won’t cop to numbers, but conveniently located at the corner of two of the downtown’s busiest streets — Michigan Avenue and Larch Street — the 2,200-square-foot café has the potential to be the new flagship of the company. Owner Mohamed Shetiah is Biggby’s biggest franchisee, with this location marking number 23 for him.
Biggby was founded in 1995 by Bob Fish and Mary Roszel as Beaner’s (which many change-averse folks still call it) at 270 W. Grand River Ave in East Lansing. Shetiah bought that location in 1999, and has since added locations as far west as Kalamazoo and as far south as Toledo.
“Every location has its own charm,” says Mowers, who, in three years, has worked his way up from barista to manager. “It’s all about finding that group of people that’s going to call it ‘theirs,’ and building fanatics out of them. That’s how we succeed where others have failed.”
Traveling north on Larch until it turns into East Street, entrepreneur Patrick Mosholder is keeping himself busy with two full-time jobs: an invention company he runs with his brother (we’ll get back to that in a minute) and Greener Planet Gardening, an indoor growing supply store that joins a crowded market. So what makes Greener Planet stand out?
“I think you get a used car salesman vibe at some of the other grow places around town — we treat our customers as people we want to keep around,” says Mosholder. “We offer the highest class equipment for best price, hands down. I just wanted to create something that was good for the community.”
As for that other career, Mosholder and his brother run the green energy start-up Gadget Factory, making a solar-powered pool and camping lights, as well as a “heat cheat” system that allows hotels and restaurants to use their existing air conditioners and refrigerators to create “free” hot water. The prototype system uses a complex array of compressors, which are being used at several Lansing-area restaurants (he wouldn’t say which ones), with systems about to go online in Florida and along the East Coast.
Mosholder got his start working in his family’s steel forge, but says he was attracted to the “self-sustaining lifestyle” of indoor growing. He says that next year he plans to have a regular farmers market and flower market on Greener Planets’ premises.
“Hopefully we can become a viable part of the community,” he said.
Greener Planet Gardening