WRITER | CANDIE CONAT
PHOTO | SERENDIPITY ROAD
For years, David and Julia Kepler enjoyed visiting Michigan’s quaint shops that carried goods from around the state. Periodically, Julia would suggest that someone open a similar shop in downtown Midland. Over time, she realized that, perhaps, she was the one who should open a store in Midland. So, she did!
Kepler had spent years working with nonprofit groups, helping them open successful retail stores, and her husband had a career in retail management. After some discussion, they understood that their dream could be realized, and in August 2017, Serendipity Road was born.
From the beginning, Kepler knew that one of her core values would be a strong desire to serve people, to help other small businesses succeed. Serendipity Road has held to that core value and currently offers inventory from over 125 small businesses, 75 of which are Michigan-based.
With five to ten inquiries per week, there never seems to be a shortage of new businesses hoping to sell their wares at Serendipity Road, but Kepler is selective. She prefers to create solid, quality, long-term relationships. She follows sales trends to know what new products would fit well at the store. When she sees a product grow in demand, she reaches out to her current makers to explore what is available.
Serendipity Road carries small furniture items, throw blankets, pillows, and a unique array of home decor items. Surprisingly, air plants have long been one of their best sellers. “Air plants have a unique look and are easy to keep alive – they make a great gift,” says Kepler. In addition, items for small parties and gatherings have become huge in popularity. Things like unique glassware, cocktail mixes, cutting boards, and other table accents are in big demand.
Like many other small businesses in 2020, Serendipity Road was shuttered for a long and difficult period. Kepler saw her dream being shut down and was discouraged. Then she asked herself why she started the business in the first place. It was to serve other small businesses, and she reminded herself that they’d been hit hard as well. So she, like so many others, figured out how to “pivot” and keep the business going. The result? Serendipity gift boxes.
At first, the gift boxes centered on Mother’s Day. When that proved successful, they expanded them to other events. All in all, they now have eight boxes to choose from, including one totally customizable version. The staff at Serendipity Road simply needs information about the recipient – from ages 5 to 90 – and they will make a special box tailored especially for them. The Serendipity boxes became so popular they have decided to continue offering them indefinitely.
Some of the most popular themed boxes are the Rest and Relaxation, Coffee and Tea, and the Michigan box.
Another favorite product is the terrariums that come from LeadHead Glass out of Detroit. They use glass from old homes being demolished and employ a stained-glass leading process to make unique terrarium sizes and shapes.
Kepler loves being part of the downtown Midland business district. She truly feels that all the businesses in the district are stronger together. Without them, Serendipity Road wouldn’t be where it is today – going strong.
215 E. Main Street
Midland MI 48640
(989) 486-9866 l SerendipityRoad.shop