Long-standing novelty shop closes doors


Kent Novelty began operating on Michigan Street NE in Grand Rapids in 1955. Photo via fb.com

The story of a novelty shop that started out in the '40s has come to the last chapter.

Kent Novelty, the Grand Rapids shop located at 659 Michigan St. NE, said last week on its Facebook page that it’s closing its doors for good this weekend.

“With bittersweet feelings and memories, we are closing our doors on Saturday, April 25th. The building has been sold,” the post says.

“A heartfelt thank you to all the customers who have supported us throughout the last 60-plus years. We will miss you!”

The store owned by the Connell family was popular for selling toys, gag gifts, party supplies and other novelty items.

A number of commenters immediately took to the post to express heartfelt sorrow over the closing.

Closing sale

The shop says that it’s having a sale through this Saturday, and everything in the store will be 30 percent off.

The shop will be open today until 5:30 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


Kent Novelty started in 1947 in the garage of a couple on Birch Drive NW in Grand Rapids, said current owner Nancy Connell.

Kent Novelty moved into its current building on Michigan Street NE in 1955, exactly 60 years ago, she said.

Connell’s late husband, Jim, who passed away in February 2004, and his brother, John, bought the business from their aunt’s estate.

“Bittersweet” end

Connell said she’s now planning to retire and has decided to sell the building sooner than later, “not because we have to, but because we decided to do it on our terms.”

The building sale will become final next week and although she would not say who is purchasing the building, she did say that it is “a Grand Rapids businessman.”

She called her decision to sell the building and close down the business “bittersweet.”

“It was the right time, and it was a conscious decision to go out on my terms than a few years down the road when the Internet kills the business,” Connell said. “Sales are fine right now, but the writing was on the wall.

“And it was the right time to sell, because property on Michigan Street is so hot right now.”

The building

Although the city’s records have not yet been updated to reveal any sale, the 5,789-square-foot building has an assessed value of $158,000.

The building last traded hands for $125,000 on Oct. 19, 2004 in a family sale from grantor Connell John F. Elizabeth Ann to grantee Connell Nancy L.

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