As a college student living in what I consider to be a small town in the middle of the mitten there is one thing I miss: shopping. I personally am not a huge fan of “big box” stores that run the little guys out of business, and though we still have some small shops left in Alma, I know that many of them have been forced to lock up and close their stores because they just cannot compete with the existing Walmart and the Meijer that will be opening in June.
When I went out searching for a place to write a Mid-Michigan Exploration blog about for this week, I wasn’t exactly sure what I would find. I drove around in Alma for awhile, but realized that sometimes it is OK to venture a little farther to find something interesting or different than what is always around me. I remembered a small shop I had stopped at in Ithaca last fall as I was looking for a place to get a birthday card. When I stopped in the first time, the store was not actually open, (it was a Sunday – I’m not used to that either! In the Detroit area, everything is open 7 days a week!) but the owners were in, stocking the shelves. They saw me run up to the door to check the hours and one of them came to open to door for me saying “If we’re here, there’s no reason you can’t come in!” When was the last time someone at Walmart did that for you? Remembering that interaction, I wanted to revisit this store during their regular business hours and spend some time truly exploring the store. This store is called Downtown Dime and is located at 166 E Center St, Ithaca, Mich. (It’s just 9 miles from campus!)
When I arrived at Downtown Dime, I couldn’t believe how much of it I had missed before. Last time I stopped in I got what I needed and got right out to let the owners get back to work, but today the people working there were very friendly and chatted with me as I browsed through all the aisles. One of the things they have an abundance of is crafting supplies. Being that March is National Craft Month (more on that next week!) and being that crafting is one of my favorite pastimes, I loved browsing through the craft aisles and finding unique and different things than what Walmart or even JoAnn has for sale. Downtown Dime has a diverse selection of fabrics (flannels, fleeces, and many many others!) and they differ from all of the ones you see used over and over again because Walmart has a relatively small stock. I even found hot glue gun sticks that were a foot long and they only cost me 14 cents each!
Aside from crafting items, Downtown Dime has a huge variety of other items as well. You can find party supplies, home and garden décor, spray paint, greeting cards and balloons, grocery items, baby supplies, and a huge candy bar as well! The staff was very helpful and friendly and was very knowledgeable about everything they had for sale.
In the future, I will make the 10-minute drive to get a different shopping experience than that which Walmart gives me. I know that it is not always logical or feasible to shop at a smaller store that is further away, but if you make the journey I can promise that it will be a nice change of pace from big-box stores and that you will find some treasure that you just can’t get from a mass-production store at Downtown Dime.