Spring Sweet is a shop owner whose store, literally and figuratively, reflects her name and personality. Spring has owned the store, Spring Sweet, for 6 years. The store was originally on 9th St., but as a Holland native, Spring always new that she wanted to end up on 8th St. When the owner of September's Bride, Tami Parks, asked if Spring had interest in buying her store, it was near fate for Spring.
“The blending of these two businesses is a fantastic idea and I think will provide ample opportunity for business growth,” Downtown Manager Dana Kollewehr said in an article in the Holland Sentinel. “Spring Sweet is a great addition to Eighth Street.”
Spring Sweet, the store, never sticks to one set style. As the store owner, Spring curates her collection to her specific tastes.
“I feel that it's kinda ever evolving, and that’s one of the main reasons I wanted to name it after myself….The great thing about it being my name is that it doesn’t have to be just any one thing. It evolves as my tastes change and grow,” Spring said. “It’s a reflection of things I love and hope to bring to people.”
Exposed brick walls line the store with racks of clothes, home decor and knick-knacks displayed all over. A large wooden staircase leads up to Spring’s desk with papers and trinkets spread across it. There, Spring searches for inspiration for next season, updates their social media and tries to keep up with all of the emails. Go up one more flight and one can reach the bridal section full of white dresses and open windows.
“The more I talked with customers, the more we found how much the space resonated with people. It was a place where they felt calm and welcome,” Spring said.
Spring wants customers to feel that they are invited in without having the pressure of feeling like they need to buy anything.
“I feel like her personality kinda matches the store itself because shes like really bubbly. You could see that she was the owner….her personality just fits in the store,” Saira Navarrete, a Hope College student whose sorority, Alpha Gamma Phi, recently partnered with Spring Sweet to do fundraising, said.
However, Spring did not always have Spring Sweet. Spring attended college at Indiana Wesleyan, and majored in Business Management and Finance. Although Spring wanted to go into Interior Design, the university did not offer the program. She graduated when the recession was in full swing and it was hard for college graduates to get a job. After waitressing for 3 months, Spring was hired to do accounting for Johnson Controls. Spring didfinances for 10 years. She convinced herself to wait until she had a family and until the kids were out of the house to start her business.
“I wasn’t getting married and I wasn’t having kids, so it was like, why am I doing this job that I don’t really love….I ultimately decided to open a store,” Spring said.
After finding a vacancy on 9th St. she started her path to building her store. However, her road to her dream was not easy. Money was very tight. Since the recession was still having its effects, loans were not being given out to start retail stores. Spring ended up having to sell her home in order to pay off debts that had crept up on her. As her business grew, not only did she have to worry about supporting herself, but the new staff as well. She worried about whether people would find her business and love it as much as she did.
Spring credits her parents and friends for helping her so much and believes that she would not be where she is today without them. Her dad, a builder, would help with construction and painting. Her friends would come and help sledge down plaster walls to reveal brick walls until three in the morning and make Spring meals when she was too busy moving into her new location to feed herself. Spring especially credits her mom.
“One of my number one inspirations is my mom….She’s the one that has instilled in me a love of decorating. Not just decorating out of a catalog, but a varied mix of things that all seem to go together because they are your favorite things, so your house is like a reflection of you,” Spring said.
She remembers her mom working at Janthrop’s Antiques at the old cash register in the 1980s. Spring romanticized working in a small business and this inspired her from a very young age. She has never wanted to build her business in a place other than Holland.
After seeing the downtown hustle and bustle, she knew that no other place besides 8th St. would fulfill her dream. After all of this struggle in order to make her dream come true, Spring is still as sweet as her name suggests.
“We went in there asking for only 10-15% of whatever we could sell for them and she emailed us back saying, how about we give you 30% and that was so generous, especially for a smaller business being willing to give up that much of their profits up to a single organization. She was very helpful and kind. She was patient,” Karey Frink, another Alpha Gamma Phi member, said.
Continuing her generosity, Spring always donates things from her shop when there are fundraisers. She also serves on Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and the Design Review Board of Holland. Although she contributes to the Holland community as much as she can, she still wishes that she could do more.
While Spring is obviously proud of her shop, she is also very proud of the friendships and relationships that she has in her life. They are important to her and she wants to be the best friend she can be to them. When asked how she thinks her friends would describe her, she said that she hopes they think of her as a hard worker, generous, warm and a good friend.