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This old eastside NAPA auto garage is poised to house Lansing’s newest small business incubator. Christened the Lansing Eastside Gateway, the business will sell community-made goods out of two “phases” of market space within the building, including the former garage and waiting area.
It will also host farmers a market on Saturdays.
“If vendors were to start their own businesses, it would be a lot of money, risk and they'd probably have to quit their day job,” owner Yvonne LeFave said. “We’ve eliminated all of this. For low cost, they can have a retail presence, keep their day job, do some marketing and still have someone here to take care of the sales.”
Vendors can purchase shelf space for their offerings, with rent as little as $30 a shelf per month. So far, Lansing Eastside Gateway houses: 15 Tangerines, author Beth Burnett, apiary Bee Wise Farms, jeweler the Map Lady, artist Harveline Akley and J&J Junk Resale.
LeFave, who also owns the ecofriendly delivery service Go Green Trikes LLC, decided to purchase the space as an upgrade from her previous storage facility.
“It was 328 square feet and I had six trikes, five cargo bikes, four trailers and all kinds of lawn equipment crammed into the space. This space is over 2,000 square feet. I thought I didn't need quite all of that and thought to open it up to others.”
The building needed a lot of work after its history as an auto repair shop: LeFave powerwashed the whole building, put in a new floor and had to fix holes in the wall.
“This was such a grimy, dingy space.
It was several different places you could tell someone had anger issues. The walls were pounded out.”
LeFave moved to the east side in 1994, living on Beech Street since 2009.
“Here you will find a wide variety in so many flavors in terms of race, ethnicity, orientations and all of that is here. I like that about this part of Lansing. We have urban farmers and folks here are grounded.”
Upcoming events include the Saturday farmers’ market on the next two Saturdays, October 20 and 27.
“We have local farmers that have product, but no place to sell it,” LeFave said. “It makes sense to us.”
The business is also a member of the “Open to All” business campaign, pledging to not discriminate against customers and vendors of different genders, races, ethnicity, religion, orientation and disability.
“With all the folks who come in, you can see they have a dream but don't quite have a way to share it. So, if I can help make that dream come true, why not?”
Lansing Eastside Gateway Ribbon- Cutting
Friday, Oct. 26 615 E. Kalamazoo St. Will be open Tuesday to Saturday, 2 to 7 p.m. (517) 894-6125 www.lansingeastsidegateway.com