We talk a lot about loving Historic Lapeer, and why we need to support it. We show you pictures of the beautiful buildings and share the promotions and activities of our local businesses. But when you think about it, it’s not the places that define us; it’s the people.
So we’re trying something new here. We want to tell you about the people that make this place special. We want to tell you why they matter, and why supporting them matters. When you support local you do so much more than support a business or an event or even an idea—you support real human beings, with goals and dreams and stories.
We want to take time to share some of those stories.
Here’s one about Kristin Griffis, the owner of The Odditorium, one of the weirdest, coolest little shops you’ll ever find:
“It’s my hometown,” said Griffis, when asked why she opened her business in Historic Lapeer. “What’s better than selling old items in a historic area?”
The old items Griffis is referring to aren’t your traditional antiques. Her shelves are stuffed with curiosities. The haunted faces of old dolls stare at you, seated next to various taxidermied animals, bits of bone, a necklace adorned with a lifelike human finger. Things you need to see to believe because you would have to dig deep through the dusty basement of your imagination to even picture them.
“I started out selling at flea markets,” Griffis explained. “Then I upgraded to flea markets. Now I own my own shop.”
The business, Griffis said, is something she views as her greatest accomplishment.
“I was able to turn my passion into a career, and that’s an incredible feeling,” she said.
It’s that passion for what she does that oozes out of every kooky little corner of The Odditorium. And while her store is unlike any other, that passion is echoed in the voices of most of our local shop owners. They tell us how their place is the realization of a dream, and how they wanted to live that dream right here in Lapeer.
“I’ve lived here my whole life,” Griffis said. “When I was a kid we’d eat at Brian’s a lot. I remember one time we had a mini food fight in our booth. We cleaned up after.”
It’s the kind of random little flash of memory anyone who grew up here could appreciate. Something small that still holds on tightly to history of a person. She is a mother herself now, wanting Lapeer to bring new memories to the next generation.
“We are an awesome, supportive town that is open minded, for the most part, and every day Lapeer grows into something larger,” she said.
Something larger that she is excited to be a part of.
When asked what she loves about her job, her answer comes easily; “I’m surrounded by all of the things I love and not having to answer to anyone, and having conversations with like-minded people.”
For Griffis, the most difficult part of being a small business owner is just getting her name out there and letting people know The Odditorium is here. And it can all be challenging, but it’s a challenge Griffis is ready to meet. “I’m a do-er,” she says. “When I get something in my head I don’t just talk about it.”
Then we asked Griffis the big question, the one this whole series is going to be about: Why should people care? There are so many options out there now; so much convenient and mass produced retail. Why should small businesses like The Odditorium and people like Griffis matter to our community? Why should we support them?
“By supporting a small business you’re supporting your community,” Griffis said simply, adding “there are not that many oddities shops around.”
And she’s right on both counts. There aren’t very many, but we are lucky enough to have one. So, if you’re a lover of the weird and the odd, the strange and the macabre, or if you just want to see one of the most unique little shops in our downtown, or if you just want to take a moment to support a dream, stop by The Odditorium. See how lovely different can be, and see why it’s worth keeping around.
See Kristin Griffis at The Odditorium in Historic Lapeer, located at 410 W. Nepessing St. Suite 101.