Ionia — Downtown Ionia is known for its history and charm.
A storefront on Main Street is Winchell and Stone started as a furniture and business in the early 1900’s and later became a bill payment center for a utility company.
The storefront next door was State Savings Bank, and eventually the two buildings merged to become Western Auto, Buck’s Bargains and after a long vacancy the Divine School of Dance.
Today, the buildings at 326 and 328 W. Main St. are home to The Jewel Box, an antique and gift boutique that pays homage to the rich local history that surrounds it.
“Our building has a wonderful history,” says owner Heather Poland-Sizemore Say. “I joke that we have everything here, but we do. We have specialty items such as coasters, mugs and glasses made especially to showcase Ionia. We’ve also collected Ionian memorabilia and other Michigan historical artifacts that are on display in the store. “
Last November, The Jewel Box celebrated its fifth anniversary. Heather and her husband, Carl Sizemore, opened their location at 324 W. Main St in November 2017. After growing out of space, they had the opportunity to buy the two buildings next door and expand there, opening in March 2020 – obviously tough timing. Now, as Michigan grapples with rising prices, supply issues and forecasts of a possible recession, the struggle for small business owners continues.
“We’re still building the buildings and hopefully both buildings will open as soon as possible,” Heather said. Be more cautious with spending, which is understandable. We have a lot of people stop by from all over to visit us, which definitely makes me happy. I hope to see more people walking around the city center and supporting local shops, because We have some great local businesses on Main Street.”
Heather doesn’t just give lip service to businesses in downtown Ionia – she supports her fellow businessmen in every way possible. She is the co-host and co-organizer of Ionia’s Thursday on the Bricks, which takes place on the first Thursday of every month from May to October, along with Karlee Bailey of Brick Street Studios. On brick Thursdays, businesses stay open late and events are held to draw more people into the downtown area.
“Heather is very passionate about making our community a better place,” Bailey said. “She was always pushing people to shop locally and always wanted what was best for the downtown. The community providing updates and fighting for change so that our downtowns can better serve our customers and businesses will benefit everyone.
“She put her heart and soul into her building and her business,” Bailey added. “I am so grateful that she cares so much about our downtown. It’s great to see others who are so passionate and willing to continue making our community better.”
Heather is also a board member of the Ionia Area Chamber of Commerce, a citizen attendee at the Ionia Downtown Development Authority monthly meetings, and serves on several other local committees.
“I really enjoy seeing people visit and support community businesses in Ionia,” she said.
In general, selling locally and Michigan-made products is important to jewelry box owners.
“We carry antiques and ship merchandise from many other small businesses in Michigan,” Heather said. “I also have some great stuff from small businesses in the US, but the vast majority of my stuff comes from Michigan. Some names that people recognize are Cherry Republic and Stormy Kromer. We get our art from A State of Copper. Our merchandise is too There are too many to list them all.”
Customers who walk into the Jewel Box are likely to see a furry friend or two on site. The Polish family has a dog named Champ, a “very popular” cat named Quest (“he has his own following,” Heather laughs) — and they’re all from the Ionian County Animal Shelter Place. Sometimes visitors are lucky enough to spot Mr. Fuzz, a rabbit owned by Carl and Heather’s daughter, Fiona.
“We all have different contributions to our stores,” Heather said. “I’m the owner/boss, my husband is the one who helps make my vision a reality, and Fiona often does a little fundraising for the Ionia County Animal Shelter – we’re always accepting and giving them donations, and I have A box door.Sometimes I call Fiona our walking ad because she draws pictures on the sidewalk, or walks up and down the sidewalk pushing Mr. Foz’s vintage stroller.
“There’s always something here,” Heather said with a laugh.
What it is: The Jewel Box is an antique and gift boutique specializing in unique items and Michigan-made products
Location: 328 W. Main St., Ionia
Hours of Operation: Currently by appointment, but regular hours will be available soon
For More Information: Call (616) 727-0986 or visit the Ionian Jewel Box Facebook Page