New in town

Lansing-centric shop opening in Old Town

Metro Melik 517 is hyper local

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“Metro” Melik Brown is no stranger to Lansing. He’s worn many hats in many different avenues. 

From photography and video work to founding Lansing Made and the annual 517 Day celebration, he’s kept busy. 

But no matter the moniker or medium, he’s remained an unabashed cheerleader for the Lansing region, and his latest retail venture, Metro Melik 517, continues that noble undertaking.  

Located next to Grace Boutique in Old Town, the store’s grand opening is scheduled for Saturday (June 11) from noon to 4 p.m.  

Brown said the mission is to encourage his fellow locals to take pride in  metro Lansing, to “wear it, show it, rep it, love it,” he said. “This area has a lot of cool stuff, and I think it needs to be celebrated more.” 

The shop will stock locally sourced t-shirts, hoodies, upcycled leather jackets, handmade blankets, pins, dog bandanas, tote bags, stickers, mugs, steins, pint glasses, 517 Coffee and music from area artists. It will also offer up items from Michiganology, the Michigan History Center's gift shop. 

The space formerly housed Curvaceous Lingerie, before it moved to the former Bradly’s Home and Garden farther west on Cesar Chavez Avenue. in Old Town. After meeting a few shop owners years ago, including Lauren Palmer, Curvaceous’ owner, and Summer Schriner, owner of Grace Boutique and Bad Annie’s, Brown said it’s a dream come true to have a brick-and-mortar shop in Old Town.  

It’s an area he’s long been fond of. By a chance, decades ago, he was introduced to Ena Busby, daughter of the late Robert Busby, often referred to as the “Mayor of Old Town.” 

“Busby was a retired GM worker and saw the potential of a blighted building. He purchased it and made it an art and performance space,” Brown said of the old Creole Gallery, which is now The Creole Burger Bar & Southern Kitchen. “It began the resurgence” of Old Town. 

Years ago, having a space in Old Town was a pipedream for Brown, but today, he said it’s a reality he’s extremely grateful for.  

“To be here all these years forward, it’s just very much a combination of blood, sweat and tears that I appreciate and most definitely pay homage to,” Brown said. “It’s very surreal.” 

The wide-ranging, home-grown store will also sell chocolate from Oh Mi Organics in St. Johns and art from various local artists, including Sarah Hillman’s skyline designs and Daniel J. Hogan’s Art Path piece. Brown’s partner, Jessi Yeargin, also has plans to create mock rooms in the front of the store.  

“It would be like if you walked into somebody’s living room or their patio,” Brown explained. “She’s going to be doing a collection of found items. You can purchase it as a whole set, or individual pieces. 

“I hope when people enter the space it feels like home,” Brown added. “I want it to be a comfortable space.” 

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