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 Safes and Guns Unlimited is a local business that has run for nearly 30 years. Pictured, manager Steve Schwartz showcases inventory at his store in Keego Harbor Nov. 13.

Safes and Guns Unlimited is a local business that has run for nearly 30 years. Pictured, manager Steve Schwartz showcases inventory at his store in Keego Harbor Nov. 13.

Photo by Deb Jacques

Keego Harbor businesses focus on community

By: Sherri Kolade | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published November 14, 2018

 Safes and Guns Unlimited is located at 3361 Orchard Lake Road.

Safes and Guns Unlimited is located at 3361 Orchard Lake Road.

Photo by Deb Jacques

KEEGO HARBOR — Local business manager Steve Schwartz isn’t just about the bottom line.

The manager of Safes and Guns Unlimited in Keego Harbor said his store opened its doors at 3361 Orchard Lake Road almost three decades ago, and they’ve become part of the community, he said Nov. 13 at his business on a snowy day as the store mascot, pet dog Sushi, roamed about greeting customers.

The store sells ammunition, safes, guns, knives and more.

The small business manager, whose father opened up the business 25 years ago, said that the gun industry is changing — and for the good.

“There is a lot of new folks that buy guns and … there is a lot of women who aren’t familiar with guns; (guns) are intimidating when you are new, and we take a lot of time and explain everything to them,” Schwartz said.

Shoppers, retailers and business analysts are paying more attention to the impact of small businesses as Small Business Saturday approaches Nov. 24. The campaign encourages consumers to buy local from a brick-and-mortar small business.

Schwartz said that the impact of small businesses and making partnerships can be felt in the community.

The owner of The Italian Dish in Birmingham, Holly Anselmi, comes from a long line of entrepreneurs.

“My grandfather had a roller rink in Waterford,” she said. “My cousins have a business and my brother is a local attorney. There is a little bit of it in our blood.”

Local business owners have a unique connection with their customers as important members of the community, she said, noting that she is a past member of Women of Tomorrow, which mentors high school girls.

“My dad was on the school board,” she said. “We support the schools and pay taxes here, and I employ five women that work here,” Anselmi said.

Customers benefit from shopping local by discovering new and unique items, she said. “We have a loyal customer base that is always looking for something new,” she said in her Maple Road store that features Italian pottery, gift and food items, and a wide array of holiday-themed offerings.

“You don’t know stuff like this exists anymore,” said Nancy Mazurek, who works at The Italian Dish. “I like to see things up close. And you won’t get that personal touch at the mall.”

Anselmi said she applies her “shop local” philosophy personally. “I think about that when I need makeup or gifts,” she said. “We all like to shop online — it is easy and convenient. But it doesn’t do anything for the local community.”

Schwartz said that as a business across the street from Abbott Middle School, he has made connections with local schools, sponsored sporting events, participated in fundraisers for the Humane Society and supported the Navy Seals.

“We do a lot of that stuff — it is important to us … to give back to the community,” he said, adding that they have also partnered with Lock-It-Up Oakland via the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, along with working with local police.

Keego Harbor Police Chief John Fitzgerald said the same day in a phone interview that the Keego Harbor Police Department is “extremely open” to business owners’ ideas.

“We love to listen to anything they got, and try to keep a very open relationship with anybody that wants to give me a call or talk to me,” he said, adding that a couple of businesses have done Chat with the Chief or Pop with a Cop-type initiatives in town.

He also makes it a point to stop into local businesses and meet with owners to let them know his door is open, like with Schwartz.

“I’ve been in there and talked to him,” he said, adding that he appreciates the fact that there are businesses in the city that promote the positive aspects of the community.

Schwartz said that shopping locally, in particular during the holidays, is paramount.

“If you are like myself and like to touch and feel things before you purchase them, I think this is what the country was built on — small business,” he said.

West Bloomfild Township Supervisor Steve Kaplan said in an email that small businesses are important to a municipality and that they “add to the quality of the township,” he said. He said many of those businesses are not part of a chain or franchise.

“Thus, they add a local flavor to the area,” he said. “They also lead to nonresidents visiting the area, resulting in revenues for other businesses, such as restaurants and gasoline stations.”

He added that one local store sells  on consignment and at discounted prices. Another local store sells trendy, brand-name, upscale  women’s clothing and accessories, while another sells diverse games and toys.

“Although families and individuals do not move to a city or township based on the variety of small businesses, the proprietors — such as restaurants, sports bars, yogurt stores, exercise and health establishments, boutique-type stores, and clothing stores — enhance the overall atmosphere and liveliness of a municipality,” he said.

Novi resident Michael Mukhtar said he has been frequenting Safes and Guns Unlimited for about 10 years.

“It is a family business ... which is one of my main reasons I started coming here,” he said while shopping. “They treat you like friends.”

Mukhtar, who purchases guns for collecting, hunting and target practice, said he goes to that particular store because even if he isn’t buying anything, he might have a question, and they are there to assist. That is not the same everywhere.

“If I’m in a big box store and I am not actually looking at guns, I won’t consider buying from there — I will just come here and see if they have them,” Mukhtar said. “I don’t think I will ever stop coming here unless they close down, which I’m assuming is never going to happen.”

Staff Writer Linda Shepard contributed to this report.