Terrapin Imports
 
 
 

Marvel Neal, Proprietor

Founder and owner of Terrapin Marvel Neal has always had a creative side and felt the need to keep busy. Achieving her B.A. in nursing followed by a successful career as an RN Marvel always found time for musical endeavors , singing in numerous operas including Madam Butterfly and Carmen as well as cutting her own 10 inch record. Raising her 3 children was her ultimate priority but there always seemed to be something missing. Post nursing career Marvel was involved in interior design work that allowed her to express her creative side but she had always envisioned having her own shop. In 1986 (after the youngest had flown the coop) Marvel opened Simply Marvelous in the newly renovated Rose Street Market in Downtown Kalamazoo. Comprised mainly of Antiques and floral arrangements created by Marvel Simply Marvelous held it’s own in the somewhat unknown location.

Fast forward to 1989… Simply Marvelous had run it’s course and Terrapin was starting to emerge from it’s shell. With the introduction of tie dyed goods created by Marvel and her sons a smattering of imported handicrafts and jewelry and a healthy dose of the good ole Grateful Dead Terrapin was formed. Kalamazoo embraced this new store and their “kinda weird” stuff and the rest as they say is history. Terrapin has made many transitions since then, from tie dye hippie shop to a unique import boutique. Marvels inspiration and creative vision propelled Terrapin to new heights. She remembers her and her sister playing with paper cut out dolls, putting together outfits, creating new styles, that was her true passion and she brought that with her to Terrapin. Marvel is still involved in the day to day buying selling and running of the business and could not be happier seeing her dream come true. She loves the idea of providing Kalamazoo with some of the most unique artifacts, handicrafts, fashion forward clothing, and one of a kind jewelry pieces.

Marvel is grateful for the help, inspiration, time, patience, muscle and effort of her 2 boys Chris and Jeff for the last 20 years.

 
 
 
 
 

Jeff Neal, Proprietor

I have always had an interest in far away places and cultures. Traveling to distant lands and seeing new things has always appealed to me. Wild Kingdom, Johnny Quest and Treasure Island are just a few things from my childhood that fueled me to discover new and different people and places. My dream came true in 1991 when I traveled to Kenya, East Africa on a 6 month program that culminated in my B.A. of Anthropology from the University of Cincinnati.
Since then I have gotten “the bug” as they say and have been traveling ever since. After graduation I worked off and on with my family at Terrapin saving money to travel in S.E. Asia. My brother Chris and I found a second home in Bali, Indonesia where we began directly importing clothing, handicrafts, jewelry and textiles. We take every measure to insure quality goods and quality of life for all the people we work with. We operate on a very small scale working in villages and with cottage industries.

For the past several years I have dedicated more time to Terrapin and gotten involved in the day to day operations of the business .Travel has had to take a back seat to this new adventure. I still make an annual trip to Bali to insure that Terrapin continues to carry the most unique products from this region. I am finding out that it takes a lot of work to be involved in every facet of this business, from designing products overseas to ringing the sale on the show room floor. I guess that’s what makes Terrapin so unique as well as remaining a family run business for over a decade. Many changes have occurred over the years but it is the solid foundation of family and ethics that makes Terrapin the unique and quality business that it is today.

 

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