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Editor's Note encore

Here’s to the doers!

This issue we have stories on people who have no qualms about taking great leaps in pursuit of their dreams. Our cover story is on Kitty Copeland, of KalamazooKitty, who not only owns two successful home décor consignment stores in the area, but also stages and decorates homes, teaches classes and organizes a couple outdoor marketplaces each year to help spotlight a variety of vendors. We also have a story on Jeb and Crystal Gast, of Fido Motors, who have turned an old brick building in the Edison neighborhood into not only a manufacturing hub for their custom scooters, a home for a fledgling nonprofit, several artists, an electrician and a music instrument company, but it now also boasts a coffee shop. You also get to meet those trendsetters Bill Brieger and Ryan Edgar, who opened Nova, the area’s first virtual-reality arcade and one of only a handful in the United States. And then there are Julie and Dan Fitzstephens, who are growing greens and tomatoes year-round at their hydroponic farm, Fitz’s Farms, in Mattawan. These are just a handful of the many people in this area with the grit, imagination and drive to do things their way and succeed. They are also carrying on a tradition that is as old as Kalamazoo — building businesses from ideas. Small business consultant John Schmitt once told me, “Kalamazoo is a city of makers.” Given the city’s history with Gibson Guitars, the former Upjohn Co., Stryker Corp., and its craft brew scene — just to name a few — he wasn’t exaggerating. So, this month we are excited to introduce you and raise our glasses to some of the area’s newest makers, doers and creators. May they inspire us all!

Marie Lee Editor


encore publications, inc.


marie lee


alexis stubelt


ken campbell, alicia chiaravalli, brian k. powers

Contributing Writers

marie lee, lisa mackinder, kara norman, emily townsend

Copy Editor/Poetry Editor margaret deritter

Advertising Sales tiffany andrus krieg lee celeste statler


mark thompson

Office Coordinator hope smith

Encore Magazine is published 12 times yearly. Copyright 2017, Encore Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Editorial, circulation and advertising correspondence should be sent to: 117 W. Cedar St. Suite A, Kalamazoo, MI 49007 Telephone: (269) 383-4433 Fax: (269) 383-9767 Email: The staff at Encore welcomes written comment from readers, and articles and poems for submission with no obligation to print or return them. To learn more about us or to comment, visit Encore subscription rates: one year $36, two years $70. Current single issue and newsstand $4, $10 by mail. Back issues $6, $12 by mail. Advertising rates on request. Closing date for space is 28 days prior to publication date. Final date for print-ready copy is 21 days prior to publication date. The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by those interviewed and published here do not reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of Encore Magazine or the official policies, owners or employees of Encore Publications.

4 | Encore MARCH 2017

Encore March 2017  

Southwest Michigan's Magazine: Awesome Entrepreneurs! Meet KalamazooKitty, Nova Virtual Reality, Fitz's Farms, Chris Falk and many more of t...

Encore March 2017  

Southwest Michigan's Magazine: Awesome Entrepreneurs! Meet KalamazooKitty, Nova Virtual Reality, Fitz's Farms, Chris Falk and many more of t...