Sarah Surface-Evans Courtesy Photo

Yvonne LeFave started a bicycle delivery service in Lansing a few years ago called 'Go Green Trikes', which until recently was located in a 328 square foot commercial garage bay, adjacent to the Lansing Bike Coop; growing the business to six trikes, five cargo bikes and four trailers, the space became too small!

LeFave had been looking for a new space for her business for a couple of years when she saw that the former NAPA Auto Parts store on Kalamazoo Street, next door to Valvoline Oil Change, was for sale. Centrally located, not far from her house, right price, but a little too roomy for just her business...she pondered it...and the flash of inspiration was to make it a small business retail incubator space, allowing people to cost-effectively rent some space to get their products/services on the market. Not all such incubators with retail space are open to the public, but Lansing Eastside Gateway, 'LEG', is open to all who are interested.
LeFave says about LEG:
"This space is right on the border between downtown and Lansing's eastside. I liked the idea of this space functioning as a "gateway" on that border, bringing new life into the eastside. And, I like puns. So, the acronym to the incubator space appealed to me since we're giving new business ventures a LEG up."
 
The venture began unfolding on Kalamazoo Street earlier this month and already they've got 19 vendors in the space, along with a prospect list of another 30 names.
"So far, vendors are selling original art, books, hand-crafted soap, jewelry, fused glass, ceramics, leather goods, even local honey. We're running it with a cooperative model. Vendors are asked to work 5 hours per month or pay an additional fee to help support the space. Most are finding that time to be a great time to network with other artists/vendors."
 
If you're wondering about costs, here's a breakdown:
Vendors can rent on a month-by-month basis as little as a shelf (2' wide and 1' deep) or a grid wall section (2' wide and 8' high) or an 8' x 8' floor section.
Shelves are the most popular option. They go for $30 a month -- and, through the end of the month, if they pre-pay for three months, they get a fourth month free. That can give you a retail presence through the holidays for 75 cents a day.
"Compare that to the start up costs of creating a business on your own. There are LOTS of costs involved -- and none of them are little! We're literally talking tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands!) of dollars when adding in the real estate costs and enough product to fill a complete retail space. And you'd probably have to quit your day job to staff the store yourself to help make ends meet in the beginning. Here, we've eliminated most of that cost AND risk. You can have a retail presence here while keeping your day job (we have a store manager to handle sales) or go out and promote your business in any other way that makes sense to you," says LeFave. 
Yvonne LeFave Photo
Some of the vendors already in-place include Sarah Surface-Evans, Downy Tree Art, Owner and Artist (her work is beautiful - check it out!).
Surface-Evans graciously provided the photos featured below: