Tanda Kasprzycki has long had retail dreams, but the General Motors advertising research analyst has been a little busy. But after years of fantasizing, and in the midst of keeping up with her full-time gig, Kasprzycki managed to make her storefront aspirations a reality.
Last month Kasprzycki and her girlfriend, Lauren Nocera, finally went into business. They opened up a small lifestyle boutique in Ferndale called Freespace Decor.
"We found this spot by chance," Kasprzycki says. The space is subleased from Smooth Vapes, but fits the needs of the budding operation.
"I felt like it was really important to start small. Eventually I would like to bring in larger pieces, but for right now we're working with the space we have. It was ideal to be in Ferndale," she says.
Despite having "decor" in the name, Freespace isn't exactly an interior design showroom. There are a few pieces of furniture, along with some well-made throws, pillows, and knickknacks, but we're not talking Magnolia Market here.
And that's a good thing. The space is cozy and uncrowded, yet filled with pleasant surprises. One table has pieces from a local jewelry line made with foraged porcupine quills. Another has bar cart and kitchen accessories — items like small flasks and ceramic salt and pepper shakers shaped like cacti. Cabinets hold a variety of candles with seasonally appropriate scents — a requisite for any locally owned boutique.
The eclectic selection of wares also includes hanging brass plant holders, mirrors with geometric metal frames, and exotic stools fashioned with rustic materials and leather cushions. She also stocks decidedly unfussy handbags, kitschy pins, and other small items.
Price points in the store are modest. Necklaces and earrings went for around $40, some cheaper. Kasprzycki says she'll be adding some bar carts and other larger pieces to her stock soon and those price tags will skew a little larger. However, she wants to keep things affordable.
"I'm still experimenting with price points. I try to ask myself what I would feel comfortable spending on something — I do that little gut check," Kasprzycki says. "I don't want people to feel like they can't afford anything in the store."
Kasprzycki designed the space herself and says she wanted to create a welcoming environment that makes people feel comfortable and at home. Dark gray walls and mahogany tables and shelving emit the kind of h0mey feeling that brightly lit, all-white spaces just can't achieve. She makes sure her staff — Kasprzycki still works full-time at GM — are just as gracious as she would be, and during a recent visit we found a staffer to be knowledgeable and attentive without being pushy. That's a difficult tightrope act.
The only drawback to the shop's design is that it's front door is located in the back. Shoppers can enter through Smooth Vapes on Nine Mile and walk all the way through to Freespace or enter through the door in the rear parking lot.
Like most downtowns, Ferndale has seen local shops come and go. In 2014, a little store called Naka closed its doors and Nine Mile's been missing something ever since. As Freespace manages to bring together impulse-buy-worthy items as well as more thoughtful purchases, they stand a chance of filling that void.