On Nov. 3 at 5 p.m. in Downtown Ypsilanti, customers pile into Stone and Spoon. Inside they enjoy a gallery of local artwork, and samples of spreads from Gus & Grey. Outside the store others take part in The Sheepish Chef’s mini gingerbread house kits. This is one of the many events of First Fridays Ypsilanti.
Starting in 2013, First Fridays was created to connect local artists and businesses and bring the community together. Taking place on the first Friday of every month, the nonprofit invites shops within the area to host different events.
Evenstar's Chalice, a metaphysical store, located on 36 N Huron St., Ypsilanti, Mich., set up shop downtown in 2017 and has been participating in First Fridays since the shop's opening.
“We opened on a First Friday. So our first First Friday was on opening day. We've been participating in it for the entire time that we've been here. We're also a sponsor of First Fridays,” Russ Jones, co-owner of Evenstar Chalice said.
For November’s First Friday, Evenstar Chalice hosted Shadowbear and Airow, makers who sell apothecary, herbs, and ointments centered around Appalachian folk magic tradition.
“What we try to do for our First Friday event is highlight one of our designers or our local makers and let them come in and do their vending. And that is what Rocky and Airow are going to do,” Jones said.
First Fridays has not only become a way to showcase the artists of Ypsilanti, but also allows visitors and community members to support the local shops.
“It's really great. We opened in 2020 in fall, like the height of the pandemic. But we've developed a really strong community and we are really grateful for that. It's wonderful to see people who have been coming since the beginning and also folks who like it’s their first time coming in here. I think that's really important for us to engage with the community in that way. Especially since this year has been really difficult for all of the small business owners in Ypsilanti. And so it's really heartening to see so many folks out here shopping local, supporting small businesses. It really means a lot to us,” Katie Delahoyde, a worker for Stone and Spoon said.
Besides the pop-ups and the art gallery upstairs, Stone and Spoon also had all of their local products on full display.
“My favorite thing is the Cellar Door soaps. They're made in Canton, a small business, a small family owned business. They are beautiful. They smell delicious. You have to come in to try them yourself,” Delahoyde said. “We like to say that we sell things for the home, kitchen, garden and heart.”
To learn more about First Fridays, visit their website to learn more about their upcoming events. However, the participants encourage newcomers to learn more just by stopping by.
“I would say check them all out. Every store, every venue has got something different to offer. A lot of the downtown businesses do a whole variety of offerings. There's art galleries, there's shops, there's restaurants, there's all kinds of things that people are offering on First Fridays,” Jones said.