Long-time business opens retail store

TRAVERSE CITY – Launching their upscale apothecary boutique in late October, Mike and Lisa Berry now offer their extensive range of Ravenwood products under one roof.

The 20-year-old business that wholesales nationwide lines of bath and body products, essential oils and candles took a new direction after years of inquiries about them opening a retail store, noted Lisa Berry. All Ravenwood products are crafted locally, many using local ingredients. They are also sold in local stores including Oryana Natural Foods Market, the Cherry Stop and the Higher Self Book Store.

"The retail site is fun," said Lisa Berry. "We've had people over the years asking us, 'Where's your store?'"

With their Cherry Line of products offering everything from lip balm, incense and bath salts to body cream, massage oil and candles, Ravenwood is a big Cherry Festival supporter. The organization sponsors a Cherry Queen candidate every year Berry herself served as judge recently and hosts a booth featuring their cherry line of products during the festival.

She's anticipating an easy connection between loyal festival customers, who stop by year after year for products, and the store.

"Now it will be nice because we can direct people here; they have a destination to come to," she added.

Situated next to Folgarelli's Market in their former wine shop, the 1,200-foot space is crisp, bright and inviting. The Ravenwood store's warm cherrywood-stained floor sets off the white walls, crystal chandeliers and white tables, cabinet and shelves. A burbling fountain, cozy sitting area for tea or coffee and savory bouquet of scents creates a welcoming atmosphere.

The finished product is just what the Berrys envisioned and hope is the first of a number of retail sites.

"In five years I would like to have multiple locations or maybe even ones in Chicago or New York," said Berry.

The inaugural store jumped to life in mere weeks. The Berrys had been considering a shop for years when suddenly the details fell into place. Once they committed to the concept and site, Lisa Berry spent two weeks putting it together: painting, putting in fixtures, decorating and stocking.

"I was looking for something clean, elegant and upscale looking," she recalled. "I want people to come in and relax and try things."

Already experienced business people, the theme since the Berrys purchased the company in 2002 has been one of leveraging opportunities decisively.

Both natives of the Detroit area, the couple were linked to the area thanks to a family cabin on Crystal Lake. They had always loved the region and dreamed of living near Traverse City one day. After Mike Berry was downsized from his IT job, they headed north for a visit to explore starting a business selling baskets of Michigan products.

They learned by chance that Ravenwood founder Jeannine Strong was looking to sell and move out of the area. Their basket idea quickly morphed into buying Ravenwood, a natural way to combine their manufacturing (Lisa) and marketing (Mike) expertise.

"This was perfect," said Lisa Berry.

The retail site has also allowed another idea to bloom: hosting 'Girls Night Out' parties. The store has hosted a few parties so far to rave reviews and Berry believes this could be a new direction.

"Book a night, bring appetizers and something to drink and invite your friends to hang out and relax," she said. "It's just something that kind of happened."