Sept. 19 2012 12:00 AM

Capital City Homebrew Supply & Plush Consignments


Things are brewing across the street from the City Pulse offices on Michigan Avenue. Well, maybe not actually brewing on-site, but a new business is certainly getting things started. On Thursday, owner/operator Todd Branstner opens his venture, Capital City Homebrew Supply, where he hopes to separate himself from similar beer- and wine-making supply stores around town. He doesn’t just sell the stuff — he’s a brewer himself.

“I was in the Upper Peninsula with some friends in 1986, and my friend’s uncle sent me home with a can of malt — I’ve been brewing ever since,” Branstner said. “My first couple of batches weren’t that great, but they got me encouraged.”

After moving to the Lansing area to pursue a degree in history at Michigan State University, Branstner brought his hobby with him. He said he used a couple of different suppliers in the area until they both disappeared, the most recent casualty being Things Beer, the brew-making supply store inside Michigan Brewing Co. in Webberville. When that closed in April, ideas began to bubble.

“That was my impetus to open my own place,” he says. “I’d been thinking about doing it for years, but that got me off the pot.”

Branstner had to invest in a new roof and performed many infrastructure renovations to the building, which had been abandoned for over a year. (It was formerly The Popcorn Bag, a medical marijuana dispensary. He rents the building from the owners, who live in California.) Branstner says he’s going to be stocking some unique supplies, including homemade mash paddles, pots, cleaning chemicals and over 30 different types of malts and hops. He’s also carrying winemaking kits, giving equal opportunity to oenophiles in town.

“If we don’t have it, we’ll get it,” he says. “I’m putting most of my budget into inventory to make sure I’ll have everything people need.”

He’s also planning on launching a series of classes with his general manager, Jordan Artuso, which will range in skill level from beginner up to all-grain brewing. “Jordan’s going to teach the science behind what’s going on, all the hows and whys,” said Branstner. “He really takes it to a new level.”

Plus-sized model

In June, Jamie Cripe took her online plus-size consignment shop from the cyber world to the real world when she opened Plush Consignments in Williamston.

“Women want to try stuff on,” she says. “If you’re shopping online, you can’t really tell if something’s going to fit right. Sizing across brands works so different, so I figured an actual store would be more practical.”

Cripe says she grew up in an “entrepreneurial family” — her father owned a Lansing screen-printing company. She says she always envisioned being her own boss and sees Plush as just one more step in that process. But why keep the focus on plus-size women?

“The average size right now for a woman is a size 16,” Cripe says. “We’re an increasing size population. Just because a woman’s curvier doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to dress nice or that she doesn’t have a sense of fashion. I could stand to lose a few pounds, but in the meantime, I’ve got some fashionable clothes to wear.”

Capital City Homebrew Supply
1824 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing
Mon. – Sat. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sun. Noon to 4 p.m.
(517) 374-1070

Plush Consignments
133 W. Grand River Ave., Williamston
Tue. - Fri. 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Sat. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sometimes by appointment
(517) 992-5020