This Week: Front (Buchanan, MI)
With its multiple incarnations and boom-bust tendencies, Buchanan, Michigan serves as a microcosm for the entire country, and its interesting history, rolling hills and gorgeous downtown buildings make it a very good setting for a novel (written by Empire Falls novelist Richard Russo perhaps). Pick a time period, any time period:
Warning: What you are about to read is a dramatization. Any similarities with actual people, situations or events is purely hearsay, goofiness or speculation.
A once prosperous mill city falls on hard times. As money dries up, people are forced to close their businesses, leaving Buchanan’s once robust downtown boarded up and nearly abandoned.
A group of big city people begin buying up buildings, provoking the ire of the locals. Conflict ensues but gradually, the outsiders become insiders, an olive branch is extended, and the entire town works together for a better tomorrow, a new morning in Buchanan!
Chicago bobos, yuppies and beau-yuppities flock to nearby Buchanan, Michigan to browse among the downtown’s many antique shops, restaurants and galleries. Inevitably, spouses and paramours bicker about who’s to blame for their union’s failure to purchase a second home before the real estate prices skyrocketed. On Saturday mornings weekenders and locals gather at the trendy new coffee shop Venti Schmenti to gossip and complain about the lousy local wineries (some things never change).
While the future scenario hasn’t been fully realized, Joe Paolucci and Tom Hitchcock’s home store, Front, gives me reason to believe it’s well on its way. First, let’s talk about the elephant in the room:
Made by Vitra in a number of different colors, the Eames classic perfectly represents the shop / gallery, which carries colorful, often whimsical mid-century and contemporary pieces and a gallery of Pop Art-inspired pieces. And who knew it’d look so cool when placed in front of Steve McQueen’s bad-ass visage? But wait, there’s more! Front also carries an excellent selection of bedding and linens, no-drip French candles and books by publishers like the always excellent (except when rejecting my query) Taschen.
Front is fun, and it adds a nice diversity to the downtown’s excellent antique shops. Heck, it’d add a nice bit of diversity to practically every design district. If you haven’t noticed, there’s a dearth of this kind of store. (Dearth!) Paolucci says business is good; residents appreciate having an option for interesting gifts and quality items at affordable prices, and weekenders have started making Buchanan a shopping destination.
Stop in to see for yourself. Click here for the Buchanan Chamber of Commerce shopping directory.
Front. 207 Front Street. Buchanan, Michigan. 269.695.0230