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By Carol Stiffler

Inside 226 Newberry Avenue, there’s new life stirring. The historic building, most recently home to The Pines liquor store, had been vacant for years. Then Julie McAlpine covered up the windows and began working her creative magic inside.

McAlpine made a name for herself locally making wool mittens out of her home seven years ago, then in Manistique. The wife of Aaron McAlpine, she branched into printing on t-shirts and quickly became so busy she stopped advertising.

She can do much more than that. Julie has the sort of creative mind that can study a homemade product and figure out how to do it.

“Anything you see online, or on Etsy, I can do,” said Julie, who moved with her family to Newberry in 2019.

She’s developed a space on Newberry Avenue, which she calls McAlpine’s UP North & Personalized, where creative sparks can fly. An evolving window display – it’s already been updated several times, and the store hasn’t really been open yet – hints at how alive the shop feels inside.

The shop will be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and select evenings too.

Julie and her sister cleaned, painted, and laid new flooring inside the building, which still boasts those beautiful floor-to-ceiling cabinets on the north wall. The units are cleaned and polished now, and the glass fronts have been removed, but they’re basically the same as they always were.

Handmade tables and benches on the south side of the store are ready for guests, there for a baby shower, a paint night, or any other craft event that can bring people together. The extra-long furniture was made by her father-in-law at her request.

The north wall, with the cabinets, has customizable gifts for any occasion – wedding, anniversary, baby, birthday. Hats in every color are set aside, waiting for a business logo, U.P. icon, or 906 area code.

Julie has everything she needs to alter the hats, t-shirts, mugs, and other items right in the store. She has machines that can do sublimation on sports tees, carve and etch wood, screen print, and more.

“Everything I would like to sell I would like to be able to personalize in one way or another,” she said. That makes a gift extra special, she thinks, when the giver had the chance to make it perfect for the recipient.

That’s what she loves – when gifts and belongings are creative and personalized. Her store is like her heart on display.

Julie is looking forward to sharing the space with locals, and happy to give them new ideas.

“I want this to be a fun place,” Julie said. “I want people to want to come here.”