Downtown shop talk

TRAVERSE CITY – Fifty-four retailers are currently waiting for space to open up in the downtown area, says Rob Bacigalupi, Deputy Director of the Downtown Development Authority.

"Downtown's vacancy rate has been below 7% for the past eight years. "We're pretty excited about what is happening downtown."

More than 150 retailers currently line downtown's streets.

Here are some of the latest changes:

– Unity Fair Trade Market Place, owned by Nichole Manning and Vicki Kinney, will sell hand-crafted mediums of art from all over the world when they open at 113 E. State on April 22. They only buy articles that are fair traded, which means the grower or producer of the product receives a fair wage or price for the article. There will be a sit down area where you can sample tea or coffee, and a lending library.

– By Candlelight, an Amish furniture store, is moving from 113 State to the old Great Lakes Children's Museum on the corner of Front and Hall in April. It's owned by Sara Jane and Steven Bye.

– Sound Design, specializing in high-end audio and video equipment, is moving from Fourteenth Street in April to the space next to Mode's Bum Steer at 129 E State. David Elmgren is the owner.

– Karen Kyser will open Cocoa's, a bakery and cafĂ©, at 237 Lake Ave. the first part of this month.

– Nicole Maile has moved her natural bath and body products shop, Euphoria, to 139 E. Front. In her old spot at 102 S. Union is Downtown Skate, which sells skateboarding clothes and accessories. Jeremy Blaha moved his business from East Front.

– Cucina is a new kitchen store coming to the Hannah Lay Building on Front. Owner Tami Hiser, who designs kitchens, will sell custom cabinetry, countertops and small countertop appliances. (She'll work with Max's on the large appliances.) The live kitchen will feature area chefs and hold classes for kids and grownups.

– Happy Hog, biker's supplies, has moved to 150 East Front. Dawn Bader is the owner. BN