Yoga studio, bookstore fill last available storefronts in downtown Baldwin City

photo by: Elvyn Jones

Renovations are underway Aug. 18, 2019, at the building at 703 Eighth Street in Baldwin City. Niki Manbeck said she plans to open next month a bookstore, gift shop, coffee lounge and full-service bar in the building's ground-floor commercial space.

A recent opening of a new business coupled with the imminent opening of another has filled all the storefronts available in downtown Baldwin City.

Sandy Chapman and Lora Rimmer opened the doors to their Om Grown Yoga Collective at 707 Eighth St. in June, and Niki Manbeck plans to open The Nook at 703 Eighth St. next month.

Chapman and Manbeck said they spent a year looking for a location before finding a place in the popular downtown district.

Chapman and Rimmer established their yoga business through the use of space the Baldwin Academy of Dance and Voice and Baldwin Fitness made available as they continued to look for a downtown home, Chapman said.

“We feel very fortunate,” she said. “We wanted a place downtown. We were looking for a place a lot of people could find us.”

The partners’ goal is to make yoga affordable and accessible in Baldwin City, Chapman said. Om Grown offers yoga classes and workshops Monday through Saturday at the studio.

Manbeck said she first approached Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce Director Jeannette Blackmar about a site for a downtown bookstore soon after she moved 16 months ago to Baldwin City. Her search ended in May when Dave Hill and Casey Simoneau purchased the two-story house at 703 Eighth St. Her plans for the business grew during conversations with Hill about the ground-floor commercial space in the house, which at one time had been a pharmacy, she said.

“It grew from a little book store to a really great project,” she said. “We will have new and used books, a small gift shop, a coffee lounge and a full-service bar. It won’t be a ‘rowdy bar’ bar, but a place shoppers and tourist can come and relax. We’re going to use the soda fountain counter that was there from the pharmacy for the coffee bar.”

The Nook will have Wi-Fi, which she hopes attracts Baker University students to the coffee lounge operated by the existing Baldwin City coffee shop Jitters, she said.

Ongoing restoration will include the installation of an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant restroom and ramp to the ground floor, Manbeck said. An outdoor patio is also planned for the house’s lawn.

A Sept. 13 Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting has been scheduled, and she hopes to open the next day, Manbeck said. Renovations may delay the opening, but The Nook will be open by Oct. 1 at the latest, she said.

The Nook will also be the home of her Imperium Publishing, Manbeck said. The company offers authors a step up from self-publishing their works by providing hands-on advice and support for such things as cover art and directing marketing efforts, she said. Imperium Publishing has published more than 50 works of science fiction, children’s literature, mystery novels, poetry and other genres, she said.

Manbeck said The Nook will complement and benefit the existing restaurants and retail business in the downtown district, especially as the community attracts more visitors through the activities of the chamber, the downtown Lumberyard Arts Center and Midland Railway.

“The more business you have in similar to each other in an area, the more people you bring in,” she said. “You might have a couple who eats at the Mexican restaurant, who walk by our patio and decide to have a drink. Tourists want a place to go. Having more business will increase foot traffic downtown and bring in more business for all.”


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