From fresh greenery to good reads, Eastown is a wonderful community with shops that nobody would want to miss out on


Sofia Hargis-Acevedo

The mural outside of Yesterdog; one of the little pieces of Eastown that makes it so wonderful.

On the corner of Robinson Road in Eastown, the oldest comic book shop in Michigan resides under the ownership of Roger Haight.

Argos Comics & Used Book Shop first opened in 1975, and its walls are covered with captivating stories from the past. The shelves are lined with hardcovers, paperbacks, and leather binding, all with the beautiful, aged, yellow pages; the sweet aroma of old books fills the air. It is the perfect place for an avid reader to get lost in the hundreds of narratives and anecdotes or for a comic book fanatic to expand their collection.

Haight and his family are the third owners of Argos, and they started just two months ago. Though he has not worked there for very long, Haight has already fallen in love with the job.

“I get to [run Argos] with my family,” Haight said. “My wife and I [are] partners in it. And then our kids are here with us on the weekends, but I love the people too. I actually like the customers who come in and get to meet people [and] talk about things we love.”

Haight is always meeting new people every day. A wide variety of people tend to stop by at Argos—whether they’re passing by while walking through town, tourists passing through Eastown, or simply voracious readers. 

We’ve seen a lot of really strong [support] within our community.

— Marie

Specifically, Haight would love to see more teenagers and young adult customers. With the passion that those age groups have for reading, Haight believes that he has something for everyone at Argos.

A glimpse of the bookshelves at Argos Comics & Used Book Shop. (Sofia Hargis-Acevedo)

“[Generation Z] is, I think, one of the more literate generations that we’ve had in a long time,” Haight explained. “I think that a lot of the young adult books that have been geared towards younger people have made [them] avid readers. So, get cheap reads here; you can find a book for five bucks. I think that’s probably one of the more appealing things, and then [there’s also] cool vintage stuff.”

Argos is also an antique shop. The decades of books tell a story deeper than their printed text. They tell the stories of the many eyes that ran across the pages and the hands that gingerly held the covers. There is no way that Haight would want to spend his days other than sharing those stories with others.

“This is a dream,” Haight said. “If you asked me when I was 12 what I wanted to do when I was older, I would’ve said, ‘Oh, I want to own a comic books shop.’”

Two blocks down on Wealthy Street, what once was a pop-up shop by Outside Coffee is now The Plant Shop, which Erin Rappleye has owned since 2018. Rappleye had realized that many people had to travel out of town to find nice, high-quality plants to add to the ambience of a room. So, she wanted to change that and open a welcoming area that is close by so they could do the same in a much more efficient way.

The Plant Shop’s interior is adorned with fresh greenery throughout the building. The walls have splashes of greens, yellows, and white, and there is even a couch to relax on.

One of the many plant displays at The Plant Shop. (Sofia Hargis-Acevedo)

Rappleye explained that the deciding factor for shop location was the building itself. She fell in love with the garage door at this site and then renovated it to make it more her own. She said that she was not truly interested in opening the shop in any other space.

Since The Plant Shop has been open since 2018, it was around for the COVID-19 shutdown, unlike some of the newer shops in Eastown. Rappleye learned to adapt to this new way of business and also learned that working in the plant industry during this time was quite an advantage.

“It was nice to be able to pivot,” Rappleye explained. “We did free deliveries and online sales, and Grand Rapids is just a great place to own a small business because people are so supportive. So it was different but challenging in a good way.”

The couch at The Plant Shop. (Sofia Hargis-Acevedo)

With the range of price points in her store, Rappleye gets a lot of different business at The Plant Shop. Whether it’s someone’s first steps into the world of planting or designers adding greenery in commercial spaces, Rappleye has plants for everyone, and she is always willing to help out a novice planter.

“I mean, plants are great,” Rappleye said. “Everyone needs plants. It’s great for your mental health. [They’re] nice to just be around. We’re getting into the spring, so it’s a little bit different, but in the winter, a lot of people just stop to get some warm greenery. It’s just a fun hobby, and there’s a lot to learn and a lot to explore in it.”

Just a half mile down from The Plant Shop on Lake Drive, Sticky Fingers has the works when it comes to sweet treats, candies, and trinkets. The open space and bright, vibrant colors create a welcoming atmosphere for people of all ages.

Lindsay, who works at Sticky fingers and runs their social media, tells the story about how one of the owners of the shop, Chip Minor, had a lifelong dream to open a little candy shop. He and his partner, Dann Boyles, finally brought that dream to life for him.

The inside of Sticky Fingers. (Sofia Hargis-Acevedo)

“[Sticky Fingers] is Dann and Chip’s little Willie Wonka inspired dreamland,” Lindsay said, “where they could have everything they ever wanted when they were little.”

Lindsay has worked at shops owned by Boyles and Minor for a few years now, and they absolutely love every aspect of it. The warm environment for customers is felt just as much by the employees.

“Anything that Chip and Dann do is super magical, and it’s a really amazing work environment,” Lindsay said. “We all have a say in what goes on here. We all have voices that can be heard, and it is super fun. It’s a blast to work in such a colorful, colorful environment. You don’t get bored.”

Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., customers can swing by Sticky Fingers to buy fun flavored cotton candy, saltwater taffy, and even chocolate bars that reflect moods. 

The Moody Bars that you can find at Sticky Fingers. (Emma Zawacki)

Many of the products at Sticky Fingers are always changing. There are new treats that cycle with the seasons, along with the favorites that never go out of stock. It is always a new experience for customers whenever they walk through the door, which is another reason why Lindsay loves the shop.

“[Sticky Fingers] is super fun,” Lindsay said. “There is a lot of stuff here that you can’t find anywhere else, as well as everybody’s favorite stuff. There’s vintage, there’s new age, there’s stuff for every dietary need that you might need. Our staff is super on that too specifically, making sure that there’s something for everyone here. It’s a freaking blast, you can come in here with $5 and leave with a whole bag of stuff because it’s for everyone.”

Along with Sticky Fingers, Boyles and Minor also own the shops Rebel and Commune, which are both located in Eastown as well. Commune sits right next to Argos Comics & Used Book Shop on Robinson Road. The outside of the building gives a little taste to their aesthetic with the bricks painted a luscious blush pink, along with a beautiful, minimalistic mural on the side consisting of pinks, yellows, and oranges. 

The interior is even more beautiful. There are bursts of luxuriant plants all throughout the store that match the colors of the brick walls outside. Crystals, jewelry, and room decor fill the shelves. The shop takes much of their inspiration from Southern California and other places around the world; they wanted to tie together all of the natural elements into one cozy space and profoundly succeeded.

Some little trinkets and decor at Commune. (Sofia Hargis-Acevedo)

Kaley, one of the employees at Commune, loves this specific aspect of the shop.

“[Commune] is very open and very comfortable,” Kaley said. “I feel like we can just be free to be ourselves here.”

Through the doors of Commune walk in many moms, teenagers, and interior designers. Many come in searching for the perfect statement pieces to add to their dorm, house, or commercial spaces, but Kaley mentioned that some girls come in strictly for their cute jewelry.

Just like The Plant Shop, Commune was also caught in the midst of the pandemic. In fact, they opened just two days before the shutdown. Marie, one of Kaley’s coworkers, truly appreciates the kind community Eastown has been during trying times.

Cute dishes and plants at Commune. (Sofia Hargis-Acevedo)

“We’ve seen a lot of really strong [support] within our community,” Marie explained. “We’ve seen a lot of people checking in on us and asking us, ‘How have you all been doing throughout the pandemic?’ which feels really, really nice to be cared for and looked out for by others. It’s been a struggle with getting [stock] in the store, but we’ve made it work to the best of what we can.”

Every shop, restaurant, and café in Eastown, such as Argos, The Plant Shop, Sticky Fingers, and Commune, are all unique in their own beautiful ways. Unfortunately, some shops are running out of business and have had to close doors like the beloved Eastown Antiques. There is so much to see and experience in Eastown that nobody would ever want to miss out on. Most specifically, Eastown shops have created a wonderful community that people are honored to be a part of.

“I’m just super appreciative of the community that we have seen come out for us,” Marie said, “and I’m just really grateful. [Commune] just celebrated two years, so I’m really, really grateful to see the store grow—see everything changing and just working through all [of it] and being there.”