Shop local, shop Hatherly Commons: Part 2

In the second part of my series on Hatherly Commons, I’ll detail my trip to three more storefronts at the shopping center. If you missed the first blog where I wrote about shopping at Salim Optical and Dream Fashion, you can catch up here.

Now, as I previously mentioned, I like to think of myself as a “professional” shopper. This means that I’m a self-proclaimed expert in what makes for a good shopping experience. For starters, great customer service is key. Then of course you need interesting and unique products or offerings. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you have to have a clean, friendly space. I give all of the storefronts at Hatherly a high mark in these categories, including the final three spots that I visited the other day – Bride Jewelry, Lazar Sound & Lighting and Al Mahar Restaurant.

I made my way to Bride Jewelry (3645 15 Mile Rd, Sterling Heights, MI) after stoppingimg_0144.jpg into Salim Optical and Dream Fashion. Lining the walls of the store are displays filled with fine gold and silver necklaces, bracelets, rings, chains and earrings. Behind the counter was Nathan Sweer and his father Hameed, both experts in designing, making and selling jewelry. Nathan opened several displays to give me a closer look at some of their beautiful product. The gold is all 21 karat, nothing less. Outside of simply offering the highest-quality metal, Nathan shared that the purpose of this standard is to prevent depreciation. This means that if you buy a piece of jewelry there and one day need to sell it, the product will still have value on the market. That’s great news for individuals looking to purchase something special.

As I browsed through the displays, I saw several sets of jewelry perfect for a bride on her wedding day. Nathan informed me that these sets (which include a bracelet, necklace, earrings and ring) are often on sale for as low as $1,200. Talk about a great deal for high-quality gold! If your wedding is approaching and you are in the market for a bit of bling, I’d definitely recommend shopping here.

Moving towards the back of the store, I noticed some fun pieces available for sale. OneIMG_0132 item, a gold Mickey Mouse pacifier, recently arrived at the shop from Dubai and is on special for $200. Other trendy items from Italy and the Middle East are in stock as well, but the biggest benefit of shopping at Bride Jewelry is the store’s ability to create custom pieces. Nathan’s father, Hameed, has been making jewelry for more than 45 years. He designs nameplates, charms and other items with precious stones. They proudly showed me some of these special pieces and informed me that they can make something in about two days for as low as $100. That’s impressive IMG_0123and certainly worth the investment. I left the store thinking of several gifts I’d like to purchase for upcoming special occasions, noting to myself that I’ll be back.
My next stop is Lazar Sound & Lighting (3743 15 Mile Rd, Sterling Heights, MI), a natural destination if you are engaged and have just purchased a bridal set at Bride Jewelry. Lazar George, owner of the business, greeted me with a firm handshake and guided me to a conference table. Once seated, he offered me some refreshments and began to tell me about his company. It specializes in providing sound systems, lighting, pipe and drape, LED dancefloors and GOBO projections for weddings, parties and corporate events.  Lazar pulled up several images and videos on a screen to demonstrate his skill.  I saw beautifully light ballrooms in every color imaginable and bride and groom first dances on floors that sparkle and shine. He told me about his degree in physics, which means that the lighting and sound he produces at events has some science behind it. For instance, the lights that Lazar offers are custom built from the manufacturer. He informed them of specific angles and outlines that only a person with a background in math and science could request. The end result – a room with no gaps in the up lighting. That may sound odd, but you can certainly see the difference:

Don’t these spaces look beautiful? What more could a party planner need? Well, they definitely need someone who works tirelessly and is available around the clock to ensure an event is well-produced. That description fits Lazar perfectly. He told me a story of a recent customer who called him at 5:20 p.m. one evening. That individual needed a dancefloor by 6:30 p.m….that same day. This type of last minute request is not one that many businesses can fulfill, but Lazar got to work and made it happen. That level of commitment makes Lazar Sound & Lighting an in-demand vendor with brides and party planners around Sterling Heights, where Lazar focuses much of his work. If you’re putting on an event and need audiovisual services, I’d recommend you make an appointment before stopping into the storefront. It may be one extra step, but it’s certainly worthwhile.

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IMG_0145After my day of shopping at Dream Fashion and Bride Jewelry and talking with the owners of Salim Optical and Lazar Sound & Lighting, I decided I needed to check out a local restaurant within Hatherly. I ended up Al Mahar Restaurant (3665 15 Mile Rd, Sterling Heights, MI), which specializes in Arabic seafood. I noticed the delicious scent of spices and herbs as soon as I opened the front door. The owner and head chef, Naseem Alnasrawi, emerged from the kitchen to welcome me. His restaurant opened 10 months ago and he was happy to show me around the nautical-themed space that he designed and constructed himself. To my right, a beautiful stone water feature with a fish tank at its feet. Two large fish happily swam by the glass. To my left, a pristine IMG_0085dining area set off by turquoise walls adorned with a shell-like piece of art. At the back of the facility are several glass display cases, one holding fresh seafood, the other holding prepared sides. The seafood, which Naseem noted is fresh and never frozen, looked like it was just pulled out of the Atlantic Ocean. He showed me the menu and highlighted the promfret “zbedi” whole fish as his most popular dish.  Other offerings include a whole chicken tandoor cooked in a true tandoori oven, breaded shrimp, fried curry fish and fried or grilled grouper, whitefish, tilapia and catfish. All the food is made by Naseem and his family. He’s been cooking for 20 years and he says he’ll never tire of it. He even cooks at home after he leaves the restaurant. Food is his passion. He doesn’t just throw it on a plate. Each dish is carefully assembled, layering ingredients and spices until the right flavor is achieved. This keepsIMG_0093 his patrons happy and the restaurant packed on the weekends. So if you’re interested in trying some promfret at Al Mahar, be aware that you might have to wait for a table. And if that’s not your cup of tea, you can always order a meal to go! Whichever option you choose, I predict you’ll be satisfied.

Well, that wraps up my trip to Hatherly Commons Shopping Center. I hope that my experience with all of these friendly small-business owners inspired you to shop local here in Sterling Heights. If you have any questions for the “professional” shopper, leave them in the comments. I’m happy to guide you in your local adventure.

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

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Shop local, shop Hatherly Commons: Part 1

I come from a long line of self-proclaimed “professional” shoppers. It started with my grandmother. She loved to hit the big department stores all over southeast Michigan. Jacobson’s…Hudson’s…you name it, she was there. The same goes for my mother. When I was a child, we used to spend entire weekends out shopping at the mall. But the malls weren’t always our main shopping destination. We loved visiting small, local stores too. They’d always have something unique or special on sale; something we just had to have. The shop owners would greet you with a smile; offer their help and guidance with a purchase. They were kind and friendly. They’d treat you like family. This is why I loved shopping at these stores. You don’t get those products or that level of service at the big-box retailers. And only when you begin shopping local do you start to see the difference. So today, I am asking you to shop local at Hatherly Commons Shopping Center in Sterling Heights. You can trust me, I’m a “professional” shopper.

Salim SignI had the pleasure of visiting several small businesses located within Hatherly the other day. Parking was a dream. I pulled right up in front of where I wanted to go. How easy is that? My first stop was Salim Optical (3747 15 Mile Rd, Sterling Heights, MI), a family-run store that offers eye exams, glasses, contact lenses and sunglasses. I was greeted by its owners, Salim and Aydel Auraha. Married 28 years, the friendly husband and wife optometrist team were joined by their daughter Rafal. Prior to opening their storefront at Hatherly, Salim owned an optical business in Baghdad. All told, he has close to 30 years of experience in the field. This expertise means that Salim Optical offers quality products and quick service. In most cases, you can get an eye exam, fitting and custom frames within an hour. If you’re looking for name brand accessories, they offer Ray Ban, Gucci and Jimmy Crystal NY glasses and sunglasses. And if you’re looking for specialty items, Salim Optical delivers. For instance, they have custom color contact lenses and the ability to tint any pair of glasses, turning them into sunglasses. Need a quick repair on some existing frames? They handle that too! All this to say, I was very impressed with the offering and the store itself. You could feel the passion Salim and his family have for optometry. I mean they’re open seven days a week! And you could certainly tell that the service provided to customers is top-notch. They want to help you find exactly what you need, which is of course what I love most about shopping at small, local businesses. So if you’re in the market for a new pair of lenses or want some shades for the summer, stop into Salim Optical.


dream signThe next storefront on my list was Dream Fashion (3653 15 Mile Rd, Sterling Heights, MI), a woman-owned boutique offering eye-catching, custom gowns and sharp, tailored menswear. Noor Shammo, the owner and designer of many of the store’s fashions, warmly welcomed me at the door and ushered me inside to showcase some of her beautiful clothing. We started in the women’s section. She pulled dress after dress to demonstrate the exact detailing on many of the gowns and showed me colors ranging from pastel pink to deep blue. She then took me inside a room with wall-to-wall dresses, a space that could easily be featured in any high-fashion magazine. Feathers, sparkles, beading, lace, embroidery, cut-outs, long dresses, short dresses, form-fitting dresses, mermaid-style dresses, ballgowns…this room had everything. I know it’s cliché, but as a woman, it would be a dream to shop at Dream Fashion.

We then made our way to the men’s section and I saw several jackets that would make any man look like James Bond. Each piece came in a variety of quality fabrics and with custom touches like removable silk lapels that transform a high-end tux into a suit for work. Positioned conveniently next to the suits were dress shirts in almost every color, dress shoes, belts and ties. Alterations were available on site as well, making this truly a one-stop shop for both men and women. And I should note, everything was very well-priced. With a full men’s suit for $140, dresses as low as $100 and alterations starting at $20, shopping at Dream Fashion makes fiscal sense.


Prior to 2018, Dream Fashion was owned by a different vendor who has since retired. So if you were previously familiar with the store but haven’t been back recently, it’s worth stopping in. Noor invested a great amount of time and energy remodeling the space. She painted the walls and installed new lighting, carpet, TV screens and other decorative features. The store now exudes class, but with a modern twist. She’s proud of the space and you can sense that. I would be too. It’s a beautiful place to shop.

Stay tuned for the next blog, where I’ll detail the final three storefronts I visited at Hatherly Commons. If this “professional” shopper hasn’t convinced you to get in your car and drive over there yet, I hopefully will in my second piece.

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

Defense Manufacturing Assistance Program offers tools for sales success

The University of Michigan’s Defense Manufacturing Assistance Program (DMAP) recognizes the importance of Macomb County’s Defense Corridor to our national security and works as a strategic partner with local firms. We have developed a Sales, Leads and Markets (SLAM) training seminar to address the challenges government contractors face when developing strategies to diversify into private sector markets.

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This free seminar offers techniques and strategies to develop leads and long-term customer relationships. If you are uncertain if you are targeting the right markets or if your lead management process is producing results, then SLAM training is for you! We already have a great response and expect a well-attended event where defense contractors and other firms will have good networking opportunities.

SLAM training will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 30 at the Velocity Collaboration Center located at 6633 18 Mile Rd. in Sterling Heights. There is no cost to attend. Please register at defensemap.org/events. Nondefense firms are welcome as space permits.

DMAP is a Department of Defense-funded program that provides resilience and diversification assistance for the defense supply chain via advisory plans and co-funded projects up to $100,000 for companies experiencing or anticipating adverse impacts of defense downsizing.  DMAP has assessed over 150 firms and conducted projects ranging from lean manufacturing to succession planning. Learn more about DMAP and the SLAM event at www.defensemap.org, or contact me at pamweiss@umich.edu or 734-998-6521.

Pam Weiss is the project intermediate manager for DMAP.

SLAM training

 

The Macomb-Oakland University INCubator launches a comprehensive cybersecurity initiative

As the state of Michigan strategically executes its Michigan Cyber Initiative, a new, unclassified hub of the Michigan Cyber Range (MCR), powered by Merit Network, has been developed at the Velocity Center, home of the Macomb-Oakland University INCubator (Mac-OU INC).

Mac-OU INC is managing this publicly-accessible MCR extension hub, the first of its kind connected to an incubator program targeted toward startup and emerging companies in the state of Michigan. This effort is in collaboration with the Merit Network, the Michigan Defense Center of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development, the city of Sterling Heights and Oakland University.

Via Gov. Snyder’s Michigan Cyber Initiative, Mac-OU INC’s goal is to educate the public and raise awareness on the ever-increasing importance of cybersecurity. Over the years, technology has become deeply ingrained in everyday life, resulting in a world that is more interconnected than ever. This has dramatically increased the number of cyberattacks and system intrusions, which resulted in sensitive personal and business information being released, financial losses, and disruptions of business operations. These attacks and intrusions have created a twofold problem, in that organizations need a way to test the security on products and services before launching them, and a workforce is needed to help protect against cyberattacks and intrusions. A cyber range is a facility with a unique internet connection that can be used for this testing and training.

Are you interested in learning more about how this new Macomb County asset will provide a vital service to area businesses, help attract new business and fortify our workforce?  Plan to attend the official launch of the Velocity Hub on Friday, March 18 from 9 a.m. to noonClick here for more information and to register to attend.

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How Can You Utilize the Velocity Hub of the Michigan Cyber Range?

Education: We hold certification courses for over 20 different cybersecurity disciplines.

Mac-OU INC will host certificate education through the Merit Network. Each certification can be obtained through an approximate four- to five-day course including an exam. These programs will run through Oakland University’s Professional & Continuing Education and will earn participants continuing education units. As stated on the Merit website, “Each course prepares you for real-life situations and for the related certification test. When you successfully complete a course, you will be able to confidently take a certification exam on the final day of the course.”

Validation: We conduct security “best practice” checklist reviews and in-depth product validation penetration tests.

In this Velocity Hub, small and large businesses alike will have the opportunity to conduct assessments and exercises on early-stage connected products. Similar to a shooting range for gun use and training, this secure sandbox environment is stocked with tools and targets to complete safety, performance and efficiency tests.

Preparation: We lease virtual space within our secure sandbox environment stocked with hardware and software.

Companies of all sizes need access to this isolated sandbox environment, which mimics a real-world setting, in order to test products or hold demonstrations. Our business model allows companies to rent virtual space within our sandbox environment.

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About the Michigan Cyber Range
The state of Michigan chose the Merit Network to begin operating this cybersecurity range and program. The project is a public-private collaboration that includes government, the National Guard, universities, community colleges, K-12 schools and private industry.

The MCR is a program that leverages the physical range to develop world-class cybersecurity professionals. There is a full program of meetings and workshops as well as tools to develop and promulgate best practices in cybersecurity training and cybersecurity itself. The range is used for individual as well as collective training. The staff are experts in the best and most current practices of cybersecurity training and are focused on meeting the specific needs of the people and organizations that use the range.

The MCR provides students and IT professionals with a solid foundation in cybersecurity through challenging hands-on coursework, exercises and labs. Courses are aligned with the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE). The NICE framework organizes the skills that America’s cybersecurity workforce needs to meet the national preparedness goals of detecting, mitigating and defeating malicious actors.

Contact Us
The Macomb-OU INCubator is located in the Velocity Center of Sterling Heights at 6633 18 Mile Road. More information on the Velocity Hub can be found at macouinc.org/cyber or by contacting Larry Herriman at (586) 884-9332 or via email at herriman@oakland.edu.

Joan Carleton is the marketing and communications manager for the Macomb-Oakland University INCubator.

 

How to use your local chamber of commerce to your advantage

Have you ever wondered what exactly a chamber of commerce does? Many believe a chamber of commerce is meant to only serve local businesses, but that’s not true. Chamber of commerce’s are also beneficial to the community residents and workers it serves! For example, a chamber of commerce is not government related. Sure, it’s important for us to maintain a great partnership with our local government, but, believe it or not, we’re actually a non-profit organization! In Macomb County, the Sterling Heights Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry works hard to bring many opportunities to residents:

Business Directory
Similar to an address book, the Business Directory lists local businesses in our surrounding communities. A directory can be found on our website. You can search a keyword or by category if you’re looking for something specific.

Community Calendar
Looking for something to do locally? Our community calendar is open to the public to search for an event, or to post one of your own! Search now for a fun-filled occassion right in your hometown! Do you have an upcoming event that needs promotion? Submit it here!

Coupons
Want to save money? Who doesn’t! Our members like to offer exclusive deals to the community via member-to-public coupons. View the coupons here and don’t forget to mention the chamber website to get your discount today!

Job Bank
Due to high demand from our members, the Job Bank is a brand new feature on our website. Seeking employment? View available jobs here, or upload your resume. Chamber members are able to post available positions or view resumes of job seekers.

Events + Expos
We plan and host a plethora of events that are great for developing your network and learning more about community businesses. Keep your eyes open for Macomb’s Business Showcase, Bass Brew & BBQ Festival, the Healthy Living Expo, and our Ladies Evening Out. Also, mark your calendars for our Fall Grub Crawl community event on Wednesday, September 23. More details are coming soon!

Social
Not only do we host social events in person, we’re also pretty social online! Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest and keep up with our weeklyblog!

If you have a question for us, wish to attend an event or want to learn more about joining the Sterling Heights Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry, give us a call at (586) 731-5400 ext. 11 or visit http://www.shrcci.com/.

About the author: Briana Koehn works for the Sterling Heights Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Sterling Heights Dodge celebrates 50 years in business

Longtime Chrysler dealer Tony Viviano honored

Stories about being employed by the automotive industry are a dime a dozen around Macomb County. In fact, over 74,000 individuals living here have an automotive-related job. That’s not even counting the numerous families affected by those careers. But, sometimes, there’s a unique story to tell as is the case with Chrysler automotive dealer Tony Viviano. This past Thursday, Viviano celebrated the fact that his dealership, Sterling Heights Dodge, has now been open for 50 years, which certainly deserves recognition.

Viviano started working for Chrysler when he was in college and attended night classes at the Chrysler Institute. Once he decided to pursue opportunities with Chrysler, he borrowed money from his father and brothers and eventually opened Utica Dodge on May 15, 1965. After a few years of successful business, Chrysler approached him to be partners in the new dealership being built just a few miles from his current store. On May 15, 1970, he and Chrysler opened up what is now Sterling Heights Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram. He also acquired a dealership in northern Michigan that sold the Chevrolet, Pontiac and Oldsmobile brands and owned a Dollar Rental Cars location at Metro Airport.

He has been involved in three different franchises over the years including Utica Dodge 1965-1970, Meadowbrook Dodge which was open from 1979 to 2009 and Sterling Heights Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram from 1970 to present.

But Viviano didn’t only focus on his dealership. He is also an avid volunteer. He is past president of both the Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA) and the Detroit Dodge Dealers from 1988 to 1989. While he was president of the DADA, the organization started the North American International Auto Show. He is past president of the Michigan Auto Dealers Association Board of Directors. He is the chairman of the Henry Ford Macomb Hospital Healthcare Foundation Board of Directors and a member of the Henry Ford System Foundation. He has served there in many capacities over the years including finance committee, the ethics committee and the organizational effectiveness committee. He also is a founding member of the Ambassador Club and has been a member of the Century Club for a number of years.

Viviano is also highly involved with the southeast Michigan Chapter of the March of Dimes and the Macomb County Sheriff Marine Division, where he is currently the commander of all the sheriff reserve units. He has received numerous other accolades throughout the years including being one of the 10 Medallion Award winners in nine categories honored by Henry Ford Macomb Hospital’s Medallion Ball. Viviano has been such a tremendous volunteer with the Henry Ford Macomb Health System Philanthropy Department that they named an award after him: The Tony Viviano Distinguished Achievement Award, which is presented annually at the Medallion Ball.