By Tashmica Torok
Walking into the courtyard of Tallulah’s Folly is walking out of the world. The sidewalk chalk left available for the occasional doodler and the sound of water trickling from the fountain are full of whimsy. Many will find themselves looking out into the street and wondering how they will ever get back to the real world. Why would one want to?
Tallulah’s Folly is another of the beautifully unique shops in Old Town but before you become weary of the praise of Old Town, read to the finish. Don’t write them off as over rated too soon. If you are a person who spends their time working hard and parenting harder, shopping for leisure is a sport. Tallulah’s Folly is the field.
A Folly is described as a structure built for beauty without thought regarding practicality. They were often built in the backyard of elaborate English estates for friends to gather and celebrate. It could be compared to the description of the juke joints of the Roaring 20’s. Particularly the one depicted in The Color Purple where the community brought the place together with odds and ends of their own. Once the building was complete it was a symbol of the whole because of the sum of their parts left in one place.
The shop has lovingly been decorated with items donated by friends and family of the owner David Gregware. This is not the furniture given away to a young adult before moving into their first apartment. There are no milk crates to sit on or wobbly tables years past their prime. The room is filled with antique buffets, book shelves and tables that give shoppers the impression that they just climbed into their grandmother’s attic and discovered a few treasures.
The entire shop is a testimony to repurposing. Friends of the Folly brought little pieces of themselves to add to the charm and character of Tallulah’s.
The columns that frame the front desk were rescued from the Senate Library in the Capitol Building twenty years ago during remodeling. The mailman delivers and picks up mail from a vintage red and black mailbox that used to reside on Grandpa Van Maldegen’s fence post. Even the beautiful “Folly Gates”, originally the solid wood garage door, was reconstructed and repurposed by Bradley Kooyers. Gregware believes that all of these contributions to the Folly give the patrons a unique feeling of ownership.
Even vendors got in on the contributions. Fran’s Famous Nuts, which is a locally owned business, donated the door that creates her own display and the entrance to the private office. Gregware of Tallulah’s Folly is an avid supporter of high quality local wares and talented artists. Upon perusal, visitors will find art by Barb Hranilovich and doggy treats by Momma Bears Conscious Cafe. Everyone will enjoy the glassware crafted in the Upper Peninsula and lamps refurbished by Bohnet’s Lighting. This is a localvore’s ideal buffet.
Gregware has made the Folly a place where every piece has a story. Elaine Cooper of Brethren, Michigan became a widow and a single mother of seven children when her husband unexpectedly passed away.
The Mennonite Church to which she belongs made the commitment to help her sustain herself in her time of need by helping her start a business. Cooper Family Jam was created when the church repurposed her garage into a full kitchen where she makes her jam. That small kitchen has grown into a very large commercial kitchen where she is now able to employ several family members. The Cooper Family Jam and the family who makes it, much like many of the products available at the Folly, fits the theme of repurposing, community and collaboration.
Tallulah’s Folly is open seven days a week and is located right next door to Cravings Popcorn on Turner Street. They have an active Facebook page that keeps the online community abreast of their latest products and services.
Those who pop in soon will be some of the first to see the new windows that look out over the garden created by Robert Busby. They have just added a cold room for beautiful cut flowers that have include pale green roses that appeared to have been dipped in pink. The best of what’s new with Tallulah’s Folly is the fresh fair trade coffee and deserts made to enjoy by Mama Bears Conscious Café. The holiday season will be full of deliciously unique offerings at the Folly.
In preparation for the holidays, stop in and meet Tallulah, Gregware’s dog for whom the Folly was named. Introductions should also be made to another sweet dog named Hazel keeping her company.
Sit down at the piano and play a ditty. Have a chat with David over coffee and enjoy his sense of humor. Create a beautiful bouquet of fresh cut flowers to keep or have a little whimsy delivered to a loved one. Find the perfect gift for a best friend or family member. Enjoy the sentiment of the repurposed pieces and the art anew. Laugh and enjoy the shenanigans of Tallulah’s Folly.
Tashmica Torok is a local entrepreneur, blogger and community activist. She is the co-owner of Heritage Flooring, a professional flooring installation company, the Mid-Michigan Coordinator for the Michigan Darfur Coalition and the author of the popular blog Mother Flippin’: One Funny Mother.
For more information about Tashmica or her small independent business visit, www.mother-flippin.blogspot.com or www.thetorokheritage.net.
Editors Note: To see inside Tallulah’s Folly, log on to www.tncp.net
This was originally printed in the November 7, 2010 - November 20, 2010 edition.