Meandering Michigan Series: The General Store, Downtown Hastings

Although I have been to Hastings when I was younger, it has been a very long time and I had never really spent much time downtown. I have to say, I was very surprised at how much the downtown had to offer for shopping and restaurants. My mother and I spent a warm Saturday in December tooling around town and doing some holiday shopping.

The General Store South Jefferson Street
What turned out to be my favorite stop, The General Store, was a big surprise. At first, we thought it was a hardware until I spotted a bunch of greeting cards through the window. This store had a little bit of everything. This store has a large selection of locally made products.

The front of the store was loaded with toys and games. Although I didn't have any kids to buy toys for, games are a favorite in our house, so I did spend some time. I found many games that I had never seen. The store also had candy, snacks, books, soaps, lotions, and a large selection of cards. Their Facebook says that they have largest greeting card selection in Barry County, I believe it. There is a section of the store with gifts and home items like picture frames, and candles

There are also shirts, jewelry, scarves, bags, and purses. We were very impressed with vegan purses designed by a Michigan State Graduate, Jenna Kator. Each of her purses are named after a Michigan City. Jenna's line include a variety of sizes of purses, wallets, and wristlets. Jenna is also a supporter of Philanthropy through the Handbags of Hope program. 100% of the proceeds for the Philanthropy Tawas Point Handbag goes to Handbags of Hope.

We also found some fun bags that were made by a local women in Hastings and they were only $10.

In the specialty food and kitchen section, I was introduced to Mrs. Meyers. My mom was familiar with the products but I wasn't. Mrs. Meyers products are made with essential oils and organic ingredients. My favorite scents are lavender and watermelon. Since this trip, I have started using the air fresher, multipurpose cleaning spray, hand soap, and dishwasher tabs.

Other notable locally brands/made products: Cherry Republic, Coyer Candle Co. handmade soy candles and air fresheners, hand-made wooden bowls by JM Woodworking, Jewelry by Lake Effects Studios, Detroit Coaster Company, Heritage Beard Company, Gee Dee Bee's Honey by Maple Leaf Farm, handmade wooden kitchen utensils from Clarksville, Michigan, Cellar Door Soap, books by local authors, University of Michigan and Michigan State items, and lots of products promoting Michigan.

The prices in the store were very reasonable and to our surprise, everything in the store turned out to be 10% off that day. Bonus!! Looking at their Facebook page, it appears that often have sales, especially around the holidays.

Keep an eye out for more on Downtown Hastings including shopping and restaurants in my Meandering Michigan Series!

More to come from the mind of ...

Personalized hair color and great products delivered to a girl’s door

I’ve been coloring my own hair for a very long time. It’s not something I necessarily enjoy, but I do all-over color and it’s not very difficult, so it’s not a service I feel I need to pay for. I’ve been using the same color for quite some time, until recently. While scrolling through Facebook one day, I read a review for eSalon. eSalon offers personalized hair color that you order online and have shipped to your door. Allure Magazine recognized eSalon with the 2014 Best of Beauty award.

eSalon offers not only custom color, but also shampoo, conditioner, color touch-up and enhancing products, as well as styling products and tools. You can order products as needed or through an auto-delivery subscription service. The subscription service is great. For first time subscribers, there is a significantly discounted rate. Once you join, you can skip shipments, adjust shipment dates, or cancel at any time. It’s all very easy to manage. I’m always leery when you are asked to sign up and is says you can cancel at any time. It always seems that you end up having trouble canceling, end up with extra fees, or pay a lot more than you planned. There’s no gimmick here, it’s really very simple.

Custom Color
To select your custom color, you start with a survey about you and your hair. You then move to picking the color you are looking for. The options are much more than I expected. You can really mix to get hues that go past your basic blonde, brown, red, and back. The palette is quite extensive including coppers, golds, rich auburns, and violets just to name a few.

Once you’ve chosen your color, you can free-form type information for your expert colorist that is going to mix your color. The colorists profiles and pictures are listed on the website. You can also upload pictures before and after your coloring. Once you’ve used the product, they ask you to go back online and let them know if you like it or not. You can also request changes for next time. Maybe it was too dark, too light, too copper, not enough gray coverage? Just let them know and they will adjust before they send the next delivery.

Your package comes in a very nice, personalized box. It includes color, developer, a single use packet of  sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner,  2 pairs of non-latex gloves, applicator brush, stain guard, stain remover, an personalized directions. The standard price is $19.95, however if you use my referral link below, you’ll receive $10.00 off your first order. Shipping is $4.95.

If you are looking for more shine, you can add in the Color Enhancing Gloss, also “Made for You.” This is an accompaniment to the color that you add to your hair shortly after you’ve started your coloring process.

After my first color, I asked for an adjustment and it was very clear on the next shipment that they made the adjustment as requested. I like the gloss. It seems to add quite of bit of shine and my hair seems to really reflect light. My hair is very shiny anyway. I’ve used it both times, however, for my next color, I’m going to try it without it. I'm thinking it might be something I use with every other color.

Tinted Love and Devoted to Hue
I’m loving two products that are used for Color Enhancing, Tinted Love Treatment and Devoted to Hue Mask. These products help extend and enhance your color. Tinted Love is a treatment that you use between shampooing and conditioning. You leave it on for 2-3 minutes. Devoted to Hue is used as replacement to your conditioner. You leave it on for 10 minutes. You can use them together or separately and they really add shine and enhance your color. I think that these products could potentially eliminate the need for the gloss, or the need to use the gloss each time.

I have a powdered root cover that I love, so I have not tried eSalon’s Color Kiss. Color Kiss is a temporary root touch-up. It the style that come in a tube with a small brush like mascara. It has good reviews on the site.

The Match-Up
If you like the additional products that eSalon sells, The Match-Up is the way to go, it can save you up to 45%. It’s an auto-delivery subscription service for the products. You select three products for $30 and the products are delivered at the frequency you select. Again, you can adjust at any time. You can swap in and out products; you can delay, skip, or cancel.

I’ve used the Heart Lock It Color Safe Shampoo and the Love Unconditionally Color Safe Conditioner and like both products. I'm going to try the Volumizing Shampoo and Conditioner next time. I’ve also used the Get Lifted Root Lift Spray. You can see my review of this product here: Turn up the volume ... a girl's suggestions for thicker, fuller hair!

With the busy world that we live in, convenience can be so important. How can I save time without spending a ton of money? eSalon is here to help with that. These are great products, for good prices, that come right to your door … my favorite … our mailman loves us!

More to come from the mind of …

Michigan Girl's guide to getting rewarded for shopping and spending money

There are so many ways to be rewarded for spending money today. Who doesn’t want to receive cash back for spending you are already doing? Most of the time, it’s not too difficult, and if you put a little strategy too it, you can receive multiple rewards for just one purchase by stacking the rewards the same way people stack coupons.

Credit Cards
Most people are familiar with cash back from credit cards. Many cards offer cash back on some or even all purchases. Check your current cards to see what options you have. When I selected which cards to sign up for, I checked closely to avoid any yearly fees and make sure I had some type of reward for my purchases.


Many banks and credit unions are moving to a reward for purchase system as well. My credit union offers a new type of checking that I’ve recently signed up for. If you meet the monthly qualifications, enroll in and log into online banking, enroll in eStatements, have at least 1 automatic direct deposit, and have at least 15 debit card purchases, you are rewarded with cash back and a reversal of any ATM fees.

Loyalty Cards
Speedway has a very successful program with the Speedy Rewards card. Each time you purchase gas or items in the store, you receive points. They also offer bonus items and special offers each month. If you purchase a particular item or visit a specified amount of times, you can receive extra points. The points can later be used to purchase various items in the store, gift cards at lots of places, or a discount per gallon of gas.

If you log into your account online or through the mobile app, you’ll often see additional deals, including freebies from time to time.

Most locations also offer deals where you receive 3 cents off a gallon when you use your Speedy Card. Additionally, at some locations, if you purchase a Fuel Card and purchase gas using the Fuel Card, you receive an additional 3 cents off a gallon. The Fuel Cards are re-loadable so you can continue to use them to purchase gas as save the additional 3 cents off a gallon.

Online Rewards
There are many companies that offer rewards for online shopping. Two sites that I use are Ebates and Upromise. The process is simple, start on the Ebate or Upromise site, and search for the site you’d like to shop from, ex. Walmart, Ebay, Kohls. After you find the place you’d like to shop, let Ebates or Upromise transfer you to the site. Different stores have different rebates or rewards. Both Ebates and Upromise have optional toolbars that you can install to your browser to remind you to log-in through the site before shopping, so you can receive your reward. This is very helpful, great reminder.

Ebates currently has a promotion, if you join from a desktop computer, you can choose to receive a $10 gift card from Macys, Walmart, Target, or Kohls for signing up. I just received mine in the mail. 

If you refer someone to Ebates, you receive $25 dollars. Please feel free to select this referral link.

Every 3 months, Ebates sends a cash back payment for purchases posted during the previous quarter. If you've earned less than $5.01 cash back, they carry over your money to the next check. You can choose to receive payment through a physical mailed check or PayPal. You can also choose to donate your money to another person or charity and a check will be mailed each quarter.

Upromise works very similarly to Ebates. Upromise was developed to help people that have student loans. The rewards you received from Upromise can be transferred directly to your student loans, or paid to you through a physical check.

Upromise allows people to sign up and donate their rewards to your student loan debt. So, it’s great to share that with friends and family. They sign up, shop online starting from Upromise and you receive the reward.

With Upromise, you can also choose to link your credit, debit, and store loyalty cards so that you can receive additional rewards when dining or shopping at selected locations. Upromise also offers a MasterCard that rewards you for purchases.

eBay Bucks
If you are an eBay shopper, you are probably already aware of eBay Bucks. If you sign up for eBay Bucks and pay for qualifying items with PayPal, you receive an eBay Bucks Certificate to use toward eBay purchases. You do have to sign up, but it's very simple.

When you earn $5.00 or more in eBay Bucks in a calendar quarter (every 3 months), eBay sends you an eBay Bucks Certificate after the quarter ends. Once they issue the eBay Bucks Certificate, you have 30 days to use it. Qualifying items have an eBay Bucks icon.

Promo Codes
Don’t forget to check for Promo Codes for potential for other discounts or free shipping. I often visit Retail Me Not to find Promo Codes, the mobile app for Retail Me Not is very helpful. It can help you find promos based on your current location.

Checkpoints is another downloadable app that will also alert you of promos or sales based on your location.

Stacking Rewards
With so many options to receive discounts or cash rewards, it’s smart to stack the rewards. I try to combine multiple offers to receive the most discounts or rewards. Always try in for at least one.

Happy Shopping ...

More to come from the mind of ...