Leanna Harris ‘18 & Macy Manchester ‘18: Downtown Romeo tends to surprise people. Known as a small town, the village of Romeo defeats all expectation, filled with unique shops and great people. Citizens and visitors of Romeo fail to recognize the people and places that surround them every day. Next time you’re downtown, look around, stop in a store and explore.
In May of 2015, Jen Demesa and a friend opened their store, Hatched: Newborn to Ninety. The idea sparked within Demesa and her partner to open the store while on a play date with their kids.
“We, Kelly and myself, had a playdate with all of our kids. We have seven total. We said, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to have a place where mothers could come and look for natural stuff?’” Demesa said.
Hatched is full of what Demesa calls, “good stuff.” Upon entering the store, an array of infant clothes, carriers, honey, laundry items, bibs, toys and much more greets you. As you cross into the second half of the store, you’ll find essential oils, balms, blends, spices, tea, soaps, water bottles, vegan organic makeup and supplements. Hatched carries items for all ages, hence the catchphrase: “Newborn to Ninety.” Demesa told us what items in her store intrigue high schoolers.
“The glass bottles for working out or whatever and the vegan organic makeup is great. We have skin products for your whole body and essential oils, which all ages are into now. There are gifts for everyone,” Demesa said.
Hatched isn’t just for shopping, they make up gift baskets for any occasion. These baskets are great for gift bags, or even just to brighten someone’s day. You tell them the theme you’re looking for and they build the perfect basket. For example, you make up a calming box with calming essential oils, bath salts and some tea. Or a happy birthday basket with fun essential oils, lotions, makeup, perfumes and a water bottle.
“If you come in and say ‘I want a gift basket for someone who’s having a baby,’ or ‘I want a gift basket for someone who’s trying to have a baby,’ or even uplifting ones, happy ones,” Demesa said. “You tell us how much you want to spend and we’ll do it.”
The duo’s maintained one goal: to make people’s bodies feel better. Hatched is entrusted with a line of organic products straight from a farm in Gladwin, where everything is homegrown and handmade. Hatched, one of only three companies to carry and sell the company’s products, loves downtown Romeo. While some customers come in twice a week and some have never walked in the store before, she feels like her customer base is increasing “slowly and steadily.”
“Romeo has a small town feel and it’s good, it’s not busy like it would be in Rochester with the lights and things like that. Romeo loves Romeo. I love being a part of something like that. I love Romeo,” Demesa said.
Hatched is open Monday, Tuesday and Saturday from 10:00-2:00, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 10:00-6:00, and are closed on Sundays. They’re located at 114 West St. Clair St.
6 years ago, Michele McClellan opened her own store, Sisson Street Creations and Home Reflections, out of her home on Sisson Street. She always had a passion for interior decorating, which motivated her to continue expanding and enhancing the store. In her store, every item is refurbished by the McClellans. If you’re ever needing to add some decoration to a room or completely renovate, Sisson Street Creations and Home Reflections is your go to.
“We are a one of a kind furniture and decor store with a do-it-yourself mentality so you can do it on your own. We kind of have a european flare and great gift shop. It’s great if you’re looking for something for a baby gift, or what have you. Even a wedding gift, we have barn wood that we paint the couple’s name on and established on such and such date, so we do a lot of personal items,” McClellan said.
The uniqueness of this store guarantees one of a kind, personal items. Since the family refurbishes all of their merchandise, it is impossible to find two of the same pieces.
“If you came in and bought something, we do not have another one. Everything is one of a kind. Somebody last week bought a fireplace bumper that was bought from the Estate Sale on Prospect Street. We get a lot of our stuff from auctions and estate sales,” McClellan said.
The shop’s moved around quite a bit since it first opened. Starting in a Romeo home and later expanding to a Main Street store, now, the owner, Michele McClellan, is currently transferring the shop to her daughter, Denise McClellan. Needless to say, the shop’s had its fair share of movement and hasn’t always been where it is today.
“We’ve been here for a little over two years. We were down at Frontier Town and we were a few other places, and we just kept on growing, and growing, and growing,” McClellan said. “We have our classroom, because we give classes and workshops on how you can do this yourselves in the studio in the back.”
Since they have resided in Romeo for as long as they have, they appreciate the small town feel and recent revival of the small town shopping. The once “ghost town” is now bustling with people shopping and enjoying the town.
“5 years ago, a lot of these stores were empty. It was like a ghost town, and then all of the sudden, All Around the House from Frontier Town moved up here, I moved up here, and it’s amazing how we all started filling it. There are 7 stores like us in Downtown Romeo now and people have told us it’s just wonderful because they love coming to Downtown Romeo, people from Lapeer, people from Dryden, Armada, Almont, Rochester. They say they love coming to Downtown Romeo because they can go to shop after shop after shop for interior accessories, furniture, whatever. It’s not like a Rochester, it’s a small town but you get a good variety and everything and advantage of not having to fight crowds,” McClellan said.
If you’re ever looking for a new piece to brighten up a room, or to gift to someone, just stop into Michele McClellan’s shop, located at 215 North Main Street. They are closed on Sundays and Mondays and are open 10:00-5:00 Wednesday through Friday and 10:00-4:30 on Saturdays.
In August of 2016, downtown Romeo gained a new and flavorful sandwich shop: Rustic Bluebird. Located on the North end of town, Rustic Bluebird brings in constant business with wonderful reviews.
Deana Hussey, the owner and founder of this restaurant, grew up with an interest in cooking and restaurants and was looking for a small, hometown place to serve delicious carry out food.
When finding the perfect spot in Romeo, Hussey decided to expand her ideas and create a restaurant.
“We’ve always been in the restaurant buisness and honestly, we were looking for a spot to carry out of and we found this great location and just decided what a perfect spot to have a great little restaurant,” Hussey said.
With a wide variety of options on their menu, Hussey recommends one meal for hungry high school students — The California Bacon Bowl.
“The California Bacon Bowl. It’s a large bowl and it’s all layered and served warm. It’s rice, black beans, bacon, cheddar cheese, chicken, lettuce, tomato, onion and it has cilantro sour cream in it. They’re amazing and they’re massive. That or the turkey avocado are our most popular,” Hussey said.
Downtown Romeo is filled with small antique shops, clothing stores, and big restaurants but a comfy deli to sit and enjoy a coffee and sandwich completes the small town feel. Rustic Bluebird manages to maintain a comfortable environment with delicious food. Hussey loves her time in Romeo and is so happy she found the perfect location to open a new place.
“It’s awesome living in Romeo! It’s a great experience, everyone has been very welcoming to us. We’ve had a very positive welcoming to the community,” Hussey said.
If you’re looking for a small, quiet and delicious serving place to take an hour and grab a bite to eat, take a trip to Rustic Bluebird located at 211 N Main St. If you haven’t stopped by already, their hours are Monday-Friday, 11am-7pm and Saturday 12am-3pm.