The Rapidian

Black Eagle Trading Post sets up shop on corner of Fulton and Jefferson

Jefferson Avenue's newest tenant mixes screen printed clothing with antique paraphernalia to create unique corner shop.
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Location and contact

2 Jefferson Avenue

Instagram: @black_eagle_trading_post

Email: [email protected]

616-427-3908

/Eric Tank

/Eric Tank

Jefferson Avenue is now home to local screen printing operation Black Eagle Press. Black Eagle Trading Post is the umbrella company that the press operates under. The 1,000 square footage contains an eclectic but cohesive mix of antique Americana items and locally hand crafted goods along with the printing operation situated in the back of the building.

Artist and co-owner Tom Jenkins was printing out of an apartment in Heritage Hill when the Jefferson location became available. In November of 2013 he and partners Colin Peak (press operator) and Jake Norton (logistics) began moving in. They spent nearly a month tearing out partition walls, buffing the floors, building the cabinetry and refinishing cosmetics such as the pine windowsills to achieve the remarkably remodeled space that exists now.

Jenkins, a Kendall College graduate, has been designing and printing artwork for about five years.

"We were doing screen print jobs before we had the storefront for some local businesses and bands," says Jenkins.

His style has developed into WWII era Americana with an emphasis on Native American imagery.

"For the last two or three years I've been influenced a lot by traditional American tattoo work," says Jenkins. "We're really trying to push custom design work. I do all the custom design work. I hand draw everything and really just try and tailor an image to create something that suits the business as best as we can," he says. "We're definitely trying to do smaller orders, more quality and really custom stuff."

In addition to clothing such as t-shirts and hoodies, Jenkins designs and prints everything from stickers to business cards, beer cozies to tote bags. He hand draws everything including font in order to keep his work as original as possible while still maintaining an old school aesthetic.

"We're not just screen printing either. You can come to me if you want business cards, flyers, stickers, anything. Anything that's graphic design oriented," says Jenkins.

In addition to print and design work the shop is sells all sorts of unique trinkets, paraphernalia, knitted items, motorcycle parts and toys. What isn't locally crafted is most likely vintage. Jenkins sees an abundance of crafters with minimal outlets to sell their work. He wants to provide an outlet where the practical and aesthetic meet.

"We really want to have stuff in here that is tangible, like your everyday objects. We have ceramics, but they're drinking flasks and cups. They're not just an inanimate object,"says Jenkins.

Peak comes from a family of antiques collectors in Olivet, Michigan where his grandfather ran a motorcycle garage for 30 years. Old doors bolted together jut out from behind the cash wrap to form a makeshift fitting room. The doors were salvaged from Peak's family barn. Of the three showcases, Peak's vintage motorcycle parts sits in the center of the shop.

"My grandpa has a whole garage, an old barn just filled with more parts that we slowly want to start bringing in. A lot of old Harley Pan Head parts primarily," says Peak.

Black Eagle is the newest of a group of shops clustered at the north end of Jefferson including Bartertown, Cult Pizza and the tentative People's Cider Company.

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