Starkweather Arts Center in Romeo is one of Macomb County’s cultural anchors. Named after its benefactor, Helen Starkweather, it opened in 1999 and continues to grow and evolve. In addition to the gallery and gift shop, it offers art classes, music programs, open mic nights, concerts and community events. This time of the year, it also offers something special: the Holiday Shop.
It’s hard not to get into a festive spirit after walking around this shop. Sparkling ice skates stuffed with poinsettias hang over the fireplace like stockings. Glittery weathers adorn the walls and shiny ornaments hang from trees. There are stacks of handmade holiday cards and a basket full of mini felt reindeer and penguin stockings only big enough to fit one nugget of chocolate.
Featuring work from 30 Michigan artists, the Holiday Shop is brimming with potential gifts. Everywhere you look in this historical building, there are knitted scarves and hats, jewelry, candles, wooden home goods, purses, pottery, woven baskets, photographs, prints, paintings and mosaics. Every item is unique, like one-of-a-kind silk scarves painted by artist Sandra LaBaere.
One of the most popular items are hand-blown glass ornaments by George Bochnig. Customers make a tradition each year out of stopping at Starkweather to buy an ornament from the artist’s newest batch.
The Holiday Shop also features goods made by area nonprofit organizations, such as Motown Soup. They are completely staffed by volunteers, and almost all of the profit from their delicious cookie and soup mixes go to area charities. Starkweather also carries etched items, like pint classes, coasters, wooden spoons and magnets, made by students in the special services program at Warren Woods Tower High School. The money received from the products that are sold goes back into the program which teaches students job skills. You can also find funny and quirky cards made by The Workplace Program which provides training and employment support for individuals who have suffered brain trauma.
I spoke with Grace Venet, secretary of the Starkweather Society, and asked why she enjoyed volunteering her time at the art center. She said she loves meeting the artists and customers and also “having a hand in keeping this piece of history alive.”
Shopping at Starkweather is certain to be a rewarding experience. With so many different types of items all in one place, it will be easy to start checking off your gift list. And your patronage will not only support one of Macomb County’s cultural institutions, it will also benefit area artists and local charities doing great things in our community.
219 N. Main Street, Romeo, MI 48065
Thursday – Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Caitlin Gerds-Habermas works for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development, often providing content for the Make Macomb Your Home website.