BY KATE WESTPHAL
STAFF WRITER

Students are back on campus, which means Alma is bustling with new opportunities and places downtown. Two of the newest places, Highland Blush and Serendipity, are already proving to be popular places with students. Both of these businesses opened near the end of last semester, and have been growing a presence downtown ever since.

Highland Blush had a soft opening in April, and then a grand opening on May 21. Owner Damian Sanderson described it as a “performance lounge and espresso bar, or more of a fine arts community center that serves really great food.” The store also serves desserts from Carolyn’s Cake and Confectionary as well as gourmet coffee. Highland Blush offers consistent entertainment nights throughout the week, ranging from open mic nights and guest speakers to dance classes and live music.

Owning a business has always been on the back of Sanderson’s mind, and he wanted a relaxing, fun environment for students to hang out and feel as though Alma has something just for them. Noticing that Alma’s downtown didn’t have much entertainment, Sanderson chose to have a space that could host a wide variety of events, much like the ones listed above. Even though Highland Blush opened a few short months ago, some already say it has impacted downtown.

Lillian Windsor (‘22), student and employee at Highland Blush said that “since Highland Blush books many events with no specific genre, it accommodates for many different

people in the community.” Having an understanding of the community is huge for Sanderson. By offering such events like drag shows, the store aims to provide an all-inclusive community space for anyone to hang out. Highland Blush is devoted to charity and fostering a greater feeling of community feeling.

Windsor enjoys the atmosphere of Highland Blush most of all. “The second you walk in you instantly feel comfortable, whether it’s from being greeted by the barista or just seeing a familiar face, Blush just brings everyone together as an even closer community,” she said.

Lana Wood, owner of Serendipity Frozen Custard and Doughnuts, also feels this way about Alma. She says the best part of owning Serendipity is meeting and talking to the customers, especially the children. “I sell happiness,” Wood said.

After moving here seven years ago, she noticed that after Stucci’s closed, there was a void downtown. With the help of her daughter Brandi, Wood opened Serendipity. Serendipity had their grand opening on March 13, and Wood now calls it a “game changer” in town.

“Before Serendipity, no one had tables out [on the sidewalk], we have tables now. I stay open late, other people stay open late.” Wood has high standards for her custard, describing it as “the highest quality custard I can find, with no additives or preservatives.” As well as serving their regular array of custard and desserts, Serendipity offers themed weeks with themes such as superheroes and unicorns.

With the variety of events hosted by Serendipity and Highland Blush, ranging from themed weeks to family game nights, students won’t be bored going downtown. Highland Blush is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day except for Sundays, when they are open from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Serendipity is open every weekday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and every weekend from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.