May 13 2015 12:00 AM
As our society has become increasingly dependent on electronics, we’ve become just as reliant on the batteries that keep them going. Who hasn’t experienced the abject horror that comes from looking down at your phone in the middle of your day to see a “low battery” signal blinking at you? #fwp.

“The battery industry is recessionproof,” says Bob Cavin, who co-owns/operates Battery Giant in East Lansing with his wife, Fonda Cavin. “In 2009, as all these other industries were downsizing, we had just franchised. Everyone needs batteries.”

Battery Giant is a Madison Heights-based franchise with 30 stores around the country. Cavin’s store is the only Michigan location outside the Detroit area. He opened last October in the Gillespie Group’s Midtown project, next to Altu’s Ethiopian Cuisine.

“This location is great because it’s right in the middle of everything, and we get a lot of referrals from nearby businesses,” Cavin said. “Sears sends people here for motorcycle batteries. Best Buy sends us people who need laptop or cellphone batteries. We’re very complementary to other businesses in the area.”

Battery Giant carries batteries for golf carts and cars, a wide range of chargers and LED lights for the home. Cavin, a lifelong entrepreneur, had most recently been working for Biggby before deciding to once again strike out on his own.

“Coffee is a want, but batteries are a need,” he said.

“And we keep pace with technology. We have over 4,000 products here. Except for the iPhone 6 battery, we have every other application that’s made. That’s what makes us unique. Besides, I don’t even like coffee.”

Cavin also handles municipal battery recycling for East Lansing and Lansing, and offers 10 percent discounts to customers who come to him. Battery Giant also has a workbench where Cavin performs battery switch-outs on phones, watches and other small electronics.

When he bought the franchise, Cavin was given the entire Metro Lansing area, and he has plans to open stores in Okemos, DeWitt, Mason and Grand Ledge.

“I want a complete presence in this area,” he said. “I’m also a member of a wide range of municipal groups. I think it’s very important to be an active part of the community and give back as much as I can.”

In with Duke’s
After seven years of serving downtown Lansing’s nightlife, Harem Urban Lounge closed last month. But Dave Sell, vice president of 414 Entertainment, revealed this week the company’s new plans for the space.

“We went around the country and saw what was working in other cities, and we saw this new fusion concept between classic rock, country and top 40 that’s creating a fun party atmosphere,” Sell said. “We decided that’s what we wanted for Lansing.”

And so, at the end of the month, the new Duke’s Saloon will electric slide its way into Harem’s old digs. Sell said it will be open 7 p.m.-2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday, and a special Tex- Mex menu was created by the owners of the adjacent Aldaco’s Taco 911.

“Harem had a fantastic run, but nightclubs have a shelf life,” Sell said. “It was time for a change. And Duke’s, I think, is coming in at the right time in the right area to do very, very well.”

Battery Giant
1306 E. Michigan Ave., East Lansing 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday (517) 763-2737,