Proprietor has always had an interest in nature
When the harsh day-to-day of a corporate job wore on Jeannie Marvin, she toyed with the idea of giving up her career of many years in management. It wasn’t until she realized people were willing to pay for the dried florals, wreaths and bouquets she created that she saw a way to give it up.
“I used to make them as a hobby and give them away,” she said. “Then I found out people would buy them.”
That was 15 years ago. Since, Marvin has built upon her business with a wide variety of items, many of which celebrate the beauty of nature. From artificial and dried florals to teas, spices, household wares, even fixtures and tasty spread mixes, Marvin said she “blossomed into the business.” At first, Marvin worked from home and sold her creations at shows. Eventually she took the plunge and opened her own store in Sand Lake. Five years ago she settled in at 36 E. Bridge Street, downtown Rockford, in the cheery yellow building with room for indoor and outdoor displays.
Marvin didn’t jump into self-employment unprepared. Before embarking on her journey, she attended a business course through Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW), which is still active. Marvin said attending the course made a world of difference for her. Charging on a sliding scale, the organization is designed to help would-be women entrepreneurs, especially displaced women.
“I very much felt displaced after leaving the corporate world,” Marvin said. “I gave up a good job with great benefits to working for myself with virtually nothing.”
From her roots as a from-home craft maker, Marvin quickly learned she had to be very inventive in order to attract customers. Her ingenuity and versatility as a merchant is evident by the inventory of the store. Free samples of the food and beverage products she carries are available every day. Customers can buy her home décor or do it themselves by picking up supplies and creating a masterpiece of their own to suit their own style. Bins carry dried rose hips and lavender blossoms—it smells great and repels ants and deer—and in the spring, live plants are ready to go home and into gardens. Shoppers will find Amish-made loom rugs, potpourri, aromatherapy products, essential oils, garden accents and more.
When Marvin moved Sage & Roses to Rockford, she said her customer base immediately quadrupled. “I am fortunate my loyal customers followed me down here and new ones began coming in too.”
Regulars Lori Osborn and Marge McDonald were in to pick up some of the handmade specialty soaps they love. “Everything is reasonably priced and very high quality,” McDonald said of the store.
The life-long resident said she believes strongly in supporting local merchants and remembers running around downtown as a child. McDonald recalled businesses that have gone, the feed mill and Ferrals dress store. Her mother would give her 10 cents to pick out candy at the dime store. That love of local shopping has never left her.
“Rockford people have to support our merchants or they’ll go away, and then where will we shop? We’ll all be driving to the mall where every store is like every other store,” McDonald said.
Marvin is grateful to McDonald and her other customers who have kept business going and kept her from returning to the corporate rat race. In celebration, Marvin is hosting an anniversary special May 21, 22 and 23. Storewide items will be 15 percent off, and new or returning visitors will enjoy classical guitar music Friday and Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. The menu for the day will include Wind and the Willow cheesecake, trail mix, tea of the day, and Amos and Maude party balls, veggie and fruit dips. Have Marvin make you a custom bracelet for just $5 while you browse. Summer hours are Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.