The Spirit of Kalamazoo
Picture it … you are walking through downtown Kalamazoo, enjoying the shops and restaurants, maybe attending an Art Hop … and you realize you need to pick up a new sweatshirt displaying the brown and gold of your favorite University. Where do you go? Well, now there is a downtown destination to meet those needs. The Spirit of Kalamazoo is the brainchild of Andrew Widner, BBA ’93, MBA ’98, and Kathleen Widner and boasts both an ice cream parlor serving Plainwell Ice Cream and a spirit gear store highlighting area schools.
“Opening a retail business is something that Kathleen and I have talked about on and off for years,” says Widner. “The idea of what the store might be has evolved, and when we really started seriously considering and researching it, we found a niche. We realized that there was not a ‘walk in’ ice cream shop downtown and that spirit apparel for area schools, and the city of Kalamazoo in general, was in short supply.” And so the idea was born with help from Downtown Kalamazoo Incorporated (and WMU alumnus and DKI partner Rob Peterson, BA ’95, MBA ’02), the Small Business Technology Development Center, housed within the College, and two student groups – the first working with the SBTDC on the feasibility study and the second working on marketing strategy.
Learn more about how The Spirit of Kalamazoo harnessed “The Spirit of WMU” to launch the business in the upcoming edition of the Haworth College of Business magazine!
The Spirit of Kalamazoo lived up to its “spirited” name, claiming the People’s Choice and Homecoming Court Awards this fall for the store’s WMU Homecoming display – a part of the activities of the University’s Paint the Town Brown Pep Rally.