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Posted on Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Why one Dexter boutique abandoned its plans to close

By Laura Blodgett

Facing its first anniversary this month, Modern Vintage, the handbag and jewelry boutique in downtown Dexter, nearly closed its doors.


Amber Sears co-owns the Modern Vintage shop in Dexter.

Laura Blodgett | For


The Modern Vintage shop will remain open after abandoning previous plans to close.

Laura Blodgett | For

A lawsuit at Modern Vintage’s Brighton store was wearing down Amber Sears, who co-owns Modern Vintage with her mom.

Sears originally had a store in the Dexter Crossing shopping plaza for eight years called Frivolities. In September 2010, she decided to move to Brighton amid concerns over the plaza’s high rent and changed the store’s name to Modern Vintage.

She was open in Brighton for three weeks when a construction incident next door shut her business down permanently. As a result, Sears sued the contractors. “It’s been very, very stressful,” said Sears, who is a Dexter Township resident.

With the Brighton store shut down with everything inside exactly as she had left it, Sears decided to open the store in Dexter at 8118 Main Street while the Brighton lawsuit dragged on.

Meanwhile, while on an antiquing getaway to Blissfield, Sears learned that her favorite store had closed and the space was up for rent. She ended up taking over that space in November and opening a third Modern Vintage location.

“I didn’t set out to have a store there,” said Sears. “I never planned to be a franchise. It’s sort of like puppies, ‘Oh, they are so cute.’”

Although she loves shopkeeping, Sears says she spent December through February driving herself crazy running back and forth between Dexter and Blissfield.


A selection of products at Modern Vintage in Dexter.

Laura Blodgett | For

"I enjoyed both stores but when I got notice the trial was pushed off into June, I just felt something had to give,” she said.

She couldn’t get rid of the Brighton store because it was under litigation, and she had just signed the lease in Blissfield. With her one-year lease up in Dexter, as much as she loved it, closing that store seemed to be the easiest choice.

When she started taking steps to move she was surprised to learn how much of an impact the store had on customers.

“I felt so bad,” she said. “People were really upset I was leaving. Some guys were upset — I think I was an easy destination to buy things for their wives and girlfriends. It started weighing on my mind.”

Her thinking, she said, was ‘this store is really cute, business has always been good here, I’ve always enjoyed it,” so she realized, “what am I doing?’”

Unexpectedly, the lawsuit was settled — in her favor.

“I felt this huge weight gone,” said Sears, who is very happy with the outcome. “Now that stress is gone and I can get back to my life.”

She decided to keep the store open in Dexter. Sears says that business at the Dexter store has been very good with a strong Christmas and summer season last year, thanks to foot traffic.

Catering to products that appeal especially to women, the 900-square-foot space features handbags, jewelry, frames, mirrors, hats, scarves and decorative items. She is planning to add more home decor such as candles and seasonal items.

Items are moderately priced from $5 for a package of decorative tissues to $150 for a handbag or mirror, with most pieces ranging between $20 to $60. Her top sellers by far are bracelets.

“People really go for bracelets,” said Sears. “All kinds — fancy, plain, cuffs. If it goes on your wrist, that’s the magic.” Pins such as a gold-and-pearl brooch are second.

Currently on a month-to month lease in Dexter, Sears has no plans of moving. The Blissfield location is also going well. Sears will find out any day now what will happen with her Brighton store.

She said the building recently entered foreclosure and now has new owners. Although Sears is hopeful that she will be able to reopen under the new owners, she is waiting to learn if renting is part of the new owners’ plans for the building.

Sears is currently donated 15 percent of all sales to the Dexter tornado recovery efforts. She is then renaming her “Moving Sale” to the “Not Moving Sale” and continuing to offer 25 percent off everything through March 31.

“One thing I really love about Dexter is all the stores are so diverse,” said Sears. “It’s become a really good shopping destination.”

Laura Blodgett is a freelance reporter for



Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 4:36 a.m.

I live in the village, and have been looking everywhere for your store...could you please give me specific location..Is it upstairs somewhere...what buildings/stores are its neighbors? Congratulations for standing your ground! You'll see me soon! Good luck!


Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 7:16 p.m.

Thanks so much, Dex! Haven't seen you around much!

Dexter Bear

Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 3:47 p.m.

It is next door to the Dexter Pub! 8118 Main Street. Thanks, and we look forward to seeing you! GRRRR!


Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 12:42 a.m.

The idea is nice but almost everything is made in China--I have been there I know. Oh sure, it all glistens and is attractive to the eye...but it's all starting to look the same. I know, I know, many of you don't care where it's made. I do. And many other people do too. I know because I am in the BtoC industry. We can go to Kmarts, Walmarts, Sears, Target, and Charming Charlies or anywhere else and buy same product. I expect that at this point from the mass merchants...but hometown American...I expect more. What's disappointing is that some area retailers are mixing authentic vintage and antique with this stuff--with no apologies. So buyer beware.

Dexter Bear

Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 3:45 p.m.

Please do stick to shopping at Kmart and Walmart(s). I'm sure we won't miss you downtown. GRRR!


Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 4:37 a.m.



Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 10:48 p.m.

This sounds like a possibly great business> How does someone obtain a franchise?


Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 12:34 a.m.

go to charming charlies...same thing...just bigger ...much bigger. But at both everything is made in China.

Linda Peck

Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 3:41 p.m.

Love the story, love the spirit of the young and creative businesswoman! Good luck to you, Amber Sears, and I will be visiting one of your stores down the road a piece!


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 1:06 p.m.

Great! Best wishes with both stores. Think local, buy local.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 1:06 p.m.

Great to see that Amber and her mother are doing well. Many hours and the stressful lifestyle, travel, and court dates make me admire the spirit of small business owners.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 12:07 p.m.

Amber, I am glad for Dexter that you are such a valueable contributor and staying in Dexter!

Chip Reed

Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 10:29 a.m.

Call me old-fashioned, but I'm surprised that $5 is considered "moderate" for a package of tissues.

Dexter Bear

Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 3:54 p.m.

Oh, but you should see them...they feature a funky retro lady saying "She could no longer pretend that he wasn't an idiot." :-D GRRRR!