Old Town, LGBTQ stalwart Ted Stewart, co-founder of Metro Retro, dies

"Sweetest person anyone could ever want to meet'


(This story has been updated to correct a reporting error. An earlier version of this story referred to Jamie Schriner as "he." )

This MONDAY, April 1 — Ted Stewart, 56, owner of Metro Retro in Old Town, died in his sleep Saturday, friends said. His shop, at 304 E. Grand River Ave., celebrated its eighth year of business last month.

The Old Town Commercial Association’s Facebook page announced Stewart's death on Sunday. The post garnered nearly 100 comments and 200 shares in fewer than 24 hours.

In those comments and other tributes on social media, those who knew Stewart described him as a thoughtful and inclusive member of the Old Town business landscape and an outspoken supporter of Greater Lansing’s LGBTQ community who readily promoted his business as a safe space. Some mentioned his love of attending concerts, dogs and collecting vintage items — especially Elvis memorabilia.

Stewart’s husband, Dannie Stewart, who co-founded the shop with him in 2016 and owns Kelly’s Pet Boutique in East Lansing, also confirmed his death in a post on his personal Facebook page on Sunday.

“Yesterday my husband Ted passed away. I am still trying to wrap my head around things. I spent the last three decades with Ted, and I have no idea how I’m going to go on without him. But, this isn’t about me, it’s about Ted. I know so many people love my Ted, and that you will be heartbroken as well,” Stewart wrote.

One of Stewart’s business neighbors, Beth Herendeen, owner and florist at Twiggies Old Town, said she was incredibly proud of her deceased friend, who had “recently quit drinking and was celebrating sobriety” at the time of his death.

Herendeen remembered Stewart as a particularly welcoming neighbor when she first moved into her space at 106 E. César E. Chávez Ave. in 2019.

“He welcomed me into Old Town with open arms, often sending me a message of encouragement just when I needed it, cheering me on when others weren’t. This Old Town, well-loved man was one of a kind — the sweetest person anyone could ever want to meet,” Herendeen wrote.

Herendeen said she intends to collect money to organize a mural to memorialize Stewart in Old Town. She said the community’s reaction to announcements of his death has only solidified Stewart’s significance to the community.

“We are all reeling from this. He was so well-loved and had so many relationships with people on various levels that we all felt special because of him. He’s left a big hole in the heart of Old Town and its surrounding communities,” Herendeen said.

Grace Braatz-Opper, a financial planner in Old Town, also said Stewart’s absence would “leave a big hole in Old Town.

“I've nothing but good things to say about him, and I’m just really devastated that he's gone. He was just one of those staple characters. You’d always see him walking down the street getting his tacos, and he’d always wave or say hi. He was kind, considerate and often a goofball, which would brighten everyone’s day,” Braatz-Opper said.

Amber Shinn remembered Stewart as “a singular treasure.”

“He was my first Old Town neighbor, rescued my Pride flag when a storm blew it away and was always down to sample and swap pesto and jam with me,” Shinn wrote.

Jamie Schriner said she was thankful that Stewart “created a safe space for so many people.”

“He was unapologetically welcoming if he believed you had a good soul and had select words for you if you did not. I’ll miss our talks about music and shows and always having a new Elvis treasure when he found one,” Schriner wrote.

In a corresponding post on her Facebook page, Molly Griffin said she first discovered Metro Retro in 2016 as a freshman at Michigan State University.

“Walking into Ted’s store, I immediately felt welcome and at home. So many of my favorite outfits and accessories came from Metro Retro over the last eight years, but what really made it special was Ted himself. I’ll miss hearing about all the incredible shows you’ve attended and getting your recommendations for the best vegetarian food in town. Your generosity, humor, and authenticity will never be forgotten,” Griffin wrote.

“I loved so many things about this wild child but mostly I loved his ridiculously kind nature and him wanting to be my friend because he also saw the goodness in me like I saw in him,” Herendeen added. “If you ever had the good fortune to meet Ted, then you too are just a little sad to let him go and say goodbye. My hope is that he is flying high, resting easy and can watch as many concerts as he wants now.”

A memorial service for Ted will be held Tuesday, April 16, 2024 at 11:00 AM with a visitation one hour prior at South Church of the Nazarene, 401 W Holmes Rd. Lansing, MI 48910. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in Ted's name may be made to the Capital Area Human Society.

Ted, Stewart, Metro Retro, Old Town, Lansing, business, LGBTQ, death


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