Oct. 12 2016 10:53 AM

Dicker and Deal / La Cocina Cubana / Chick-fil-A

Dicker and Deal general manager Stacey Potter in the stuffed animal display room at the store's new location. Potter said the store was designed to become a destination location that would bring visitors to Lansing.
Allan I. Ross/City Pulse

Every so often, a business transcends its retail roots and crosses over into tourist attraction territory. Preuss Pets in Old Town has become a regional destination for exotic animal gawkers, and East Lansing has Curious Book Shop and Saper Galleries to keep book and art lovers transfixed for a whole day, if need be.

Now a longtime local second-hand store/pawn shop is looking to join the club. Next weekend, Dicker and Deal will leave its original location, 1701 S. Cedar St., and move a mile down the street into its new home, the former site of Coscarelli’s Restaurant & Lounge. It’s a move that’s been three years — and over $1 million — in the making.

“It was time for an upgrade,” said general manager Stacey Potter. “We’d outgrown this building. It’s not customer friendly, it’s not ADA compliant and there’s not enough parking. At some point, we came up with this concept of an upscale (version of our store), and it really got our imaginations going.”

At 3 p.m. Oct. 21, Potter will close the current location for good. His moving team will then spend the entire weekend schlepping all the merchandise down the street to the new store, with the goal of opening first thing Monday morning.

“It’s going to be a lot of work, but we’re more than ready,” Potter said.

Potter’s father, Dicker and Deal founder Gary Potter, closed on the building in November 2013, but a fire near the end of the renovation process delayed the move.

“The fire could have been a lot worse,” Potter said. “It burned for nearly nine hours because of a faulty alarm system. Fortunately, all we lost were some showcases, but we had to rip everything back down to the wires and start over again.”

The new space will feature a massive open sales floor with a jewelry counter (named Stacey’s Boutique, after Potter) with a jewelry repair area, an electronics department, a gun room (named Moose Creek) and a room for sporting goods and tools. Sprinkled throughout the sections are display areas featuring items from the Potter family’s personal collection of historic memorabilia. But the pièce de résistance will be the Michigan nature scene display: Potter’s team — with help from Tiffany Marie, owner of La Fille Gallery — reconfigured the building’s glassed-in patio into an atrium, complete with faux rocks and over a dozen taxidermied animals, that will be visible from the parking lot. Stuffed animals will also be hanging throughout the store.

“It’s going to have a very Cabela’s-esque feel to it,” Potter said. “Movies portray pawn shops as negative, and we’re trying to change that image. We want to make it more family friendly, create a more positive atmosphere where a family can have a unique experience. We want people who come in to be in awe.”

Food truck wars

Part of the allure of the new Dicker and Deal location was the massive parking lot, a section of which is being leased to Cuban food truck La Cocina Cubana. Ironically, La Cocina Cubana is relocating from its former home in Old Town because the space it had been parked in was converted into … a food truck court.

“There’s no more room for parking now,” said employee Brenda Morada, who spoke for owner Iliana Almaguer as an interpreter. “We were losing customers because two other food trucks (Detroit Frankie’s Wood-Fired Brick Oven Pizza and Maria’s Mexican Cuisine) showed up.”

In July, Ted Wilson announced he was moving his business, Replay Entertainment Exchange, into the building directly behind La Cocina Cubana. Wilson plans to turn that building, formerly Grand River Bait & Tackle, into a mixeduse bar/performance venue/video game arcade/resale shop, tentatively named Replay Barcade. But Almaguer said Wilson didn’t consult her, and as a result, she suffered a sales dip. For his part, Wilson said Almaguer was told about an overflow parking lot area that she didn’t use.

"We’ve had two more food trucks move in," Wilson said, "and no one else has complained about parking.”

Those trucks are Red’s Smokehouse Burgers & Such, which recently relocated from Lansing’s south side, and Galliformes, featuring breakfast food and creative poultry dishes.

Almaguer isn’t slowing down, either. On Monday, she opened her second food truck in the parking lot of American Eagle Superstore, at the corner of Larch Street and Oakland Avenue. That truck is double the size of the original, with a bigger grill, a station for making sandwiches and a second window to keep the customer flow moving.

“Eventually, (the goal is to open) as a restaurant,” Almaguer said. “I’ve already started looking at places.”

Yes, you can eat chikin

If you see tents popped up along Saginaw Highway on Lansing’s west side tonight, don’t be surprised. Georgia-based fast food franchise Chick-fil-A opens its first standalone Michigan restaurant Thursday, and it’s offered the first 100 people through the door free combo meals once a week for a year. Camping out is encouraged.

Four years ago, controversy plagued the franchise when the company’s chief operating officer, Dan Cathy, a Southern Baptist, made a statement openly opposing same-sex marriage. The business, started in 1946 by Cathy’s father, Truett Cathy, also contributed to several anti-LGBT organizations. Gay rights groups across the country boycotted, and two years later — despite a 12 percent increase in sales — Cathy apologized for his remarks, and funding was cut to all but one of the groups. He began working with an LGBT activist, and the boycott was called off. We reached out to Lansing franchise owner Kate McNerny to weigh in on this issue.

“At Chick-fil-A at Lansing, as in all of our restaurants, we welcome everyone and provide genuine hospitality to all of our guests,” McNerny said by email. “As a brand that represents more than 80,000 individuals, we do not have a singular viewpoint or opinion, but instead are focused on serving great food and providing the best service.”

In addition to the free-food promotion, the store will also be celebrating its opening by collecting new and gently used children’s books from 6:30 a.m.-10 p.m. today and Thursday. All books will be donated to the Boys & Girls Club of Lansing.

Dicker & Deal
2420 S. Cedar St., Lansing
9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday;
noon-5 p.m. Sunday
(517) 487-3886, dickeranddeal.com/store

La Cocina Cubana
901 N. Larch St., Lansing (American Eagle Superstore parking lot);
2420 S. Cedar St., Lansing (Dicker & Deal parking lot)
11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday
(11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Sunday at American Eagle location only)
(517) 894-3079

5617 W. Saginaw Highway, Lansing
6:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday;
closed Sunday
(517) 321-7800, chick-fil-a.com