I’ve lived in Howell a long time, and through the years, there have been lots of changes. Some of the additions to the community have been wonderful, like the landscaping on Michigan Avenue, and the parking lot on Sibley Street. And some things, like the closing of the Jewett Street Bridge (which spans the railroad tracks on Isbell Street) have brought much calm to my neighborhood.
And then there are those things that I miss:
1. Sefa’s Market
I always thought Howell so very lucky to have Sefa’s. When we bought our little downtown bungalow and moved to Howell, Sefa’s came highly recommended, and for good reason. It was the quintessential downtown grocery store, human-scale and well-stocked with the basics. And Sefa’s had a well-earned reputation for being THE place in Howell to buy meat.
Sefa’s became my go-to store, the place where I’d shop several times a week. The market’s size and location was ideal for folks like me who shop in short bursts, or when there’s not a drop of milk in the house, or when I needed something quick and great to prepare; pork chops were a favorite great-dinner-at-the-last-minute choice.
I loved shopping at Sefa’s, too, because there was a social aspect to the experience. I knew just about everyone who worked there, and I can’t think of a single time that I didn’t run into someone I knew while shopping.
After so many years as Sefa’s, the market was sold and it became the Howell Village Market. That store seemed to suffer from an identity crisis of whether it was a neighborhood market or a liquor store. When it finally closed, I waited for another market to move in. Instead, Howell got yet another dollar store.
2. Holkins Lumber
I loved Holkins and am thankful it was in operation during the years when we did a lot of work on our house. The service was great and the advice invaluable.
While we were working in our house, we needed several rolls of insulation, which, of course, we bought at Holkins. A couple hours after we left there, a knock came at our front door. We were surprised to see that it was the man from Holkins. It seems he realized after we left that he had overcharged us for the insulation, so he drove to our house to refund us the overage.
Now that’s amazing service.
3. The Honeydew Restaurant
If you ever ate at the Honeydew, you understand why I miss it. It was a cool, unusual restaurant.
It started out in a tiny location on Clinton Street, owned by a cool, young couple, and and it quickly gained a reputation as the quirky, hip place in town to eat. As its popularity grew, so did its culinary ambition, and it moved into the building on Grand River Avenue that currently houses Chinese Delight.
It’s kind of hard to describe the Honeydew’s food. It was unusual and creative, yet familiar. Everyone had their favorite dish. Mine was a fabulous salad with strips of steak and potatoes on top. (That and the creme´brulee.) One of my friends once called it “gourmet food for farmers,” but I think she was off base.
The restaurant had a great vibe. It was the place to see and be seen, drawing diners from near and far.
During Balloonfest one year, the Honeydew opened super early and served breakfast, and we were lucky enough to see the balloons fly in from the restaurant’s second floor.
4. Gill Roy’s Complete Hardware
We couldn’t have the Howell Opera House (one of Howell’s coolest things) if this downtown hardware store were still operating in its old location, but I miss its service, knowledgeable staff and quirky merchandise. And they actually repaired things.
5. Christine Beaubien’s
While in business, Christine Beaubien’s in downtown Howell was THE place for women to buy clothes. Anybody who was anybody bought their clothes there, and the store’s reputation for beautiful, hip-and-trendy clothing brought in clientele from far and wide. Coupled with its neighbor, the Honeydew Restaurant, the two created a shopping-and-dining experience.
I bought a couple pieces in the Blue Fish line there. Blue Fish produced hand-painted, creative and quirky cotton pieces that I would describe as equal parts hippie, hobo, comfort and fashion. I bought a dress there that I loved dearly, one like the one pictured here, except that it had trees painted on it instead of a cup of coffee (thought that would have been entirely appropriate). I wore it for years and years until it finally fell apart.
Gosh, I loved that dress.
6. Crazy neighborhood Halloweens
Back in the late 1990s/early 2000s, Halloween was a good-natured competitive sport in southwest Howell neighborhoods, especially on Washington Street. Residents constructed some pretty amazing Halloween scenes — fire-breathing dragons, spaceships, graveyards, spooky lights, scary music — and trick or treaters would come from near and far.
As the years passed and the Halloween extravaganza calmed down, and as the popularity of the Legend of Sleepy Howell increased, the number of trick-or-treaters at my house has shrunk dramatically.
So, what do YOU miss most about Howell