Quark! is an incredibly unique store, filled with gifts “at the intersection of science, art and everyday”.
This woman- and locally-owned business is located in a beautiful brick
building in downtown East Lansing, and stands directly across from the Eli and Edythe
Broad Art Museum (549 East Grand River Ave). Opened in August of 2021, owner
Renee Leone has a passion for science and celebrating its presence in our daily lives.
Asked about the name, Leone explained the store was named for one of the main
building blocks of atoms –“quarks”. Quarks and atoms, just like science and art, are
connected to everything, and it is through beautiful products that Quark! cultivates
curiosity and joy in the sciences connected to our everyday lives. “This is a store for
everyone- hobbyists, professionals, and the generally curious! I’m a firm believer in the
renaissance mentality- we may have a particular profession, but we can be curious
about many things and explore multiple topics and hobbies in which we are interested.
It’s a big wonderous world and universe and if Quark can inspire curiosity,
conversations, and make you smile through the products we offer, then we’ve done our
job!,” states Leone.
“People are often surprised and excited when they come into Quark! and discover
objects that reflect the scientific interests they enjoy; such as a functional sundial
necklace, wood-crafted mechanical light-switch cover, detailed chemistry tote bag, or an
anatomy themed fine-bone China mug, for example. For an extra bit of fun, we also
have a working microscope in the store. We always have something interesting on it
and invite shoppers to check it out. It’s wonderful to hear people’s stories about when
they used a microscope last, the topics they like learning about, or their last adventure;
and we love sharing the stories behind our products, the hobbies we pursue, and seeing
everyone enjoying their time in the store,” says Leone.
Leone’s background includes working as a psychotherapist (she holds an MS in
counseling psychology), a Montessori educator, and artist. Notably, she also co-founded
the MSU Science Festival. She developed and coordinated this annual event (still held
every April) of free events that includes speakers, demonstrations, tours, and hands-on
activities, for five years. Each of these pursuits contributed to Leone’s path to opening
“These experiences also demonstrated to me that as we learn about how the pursuit of
science and understanding works, we find that every answer inevitably results in more
questions. I think this helps make science less intimidating and reveals how down-right
creative and fascinating it can be. I believe this can also result in increasing our comfort
and confidence when participating in the many important conversations taking place in
our world today.” says Leone.
Not surprisingly, attention to detail is also important at Quark!. Products are carefully
curated and vetted for quality, and effort goes into finding products that are sustainable,
useful, and long lasting. Quark! also works primarily with artists and family-owned small
businesses. “I’m thrilled to be able to support such creative people and make their
quality products available to everyone here in E. Lansing and beyond,” says Leone.
Quark! is sure to bring joy to your shopping experience and a little something special to
your holiday celebration. Visit in person at 549 East Grand River, East Lansing. Or look
for online shopping soon at quarkgifts.com. Quark! also offers gifts certificates.
During the holiday season, the store is open Tuesday – Saturday 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.,
Sunday noon – 6 p.m., and has special hours on Monday 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.
You can find Quark! on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Quarkgifts/,
X (formerly Twitter) at https://twitter.com/quarkgifts/ and
Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/quarkgifts Follow and keep an eye out for an
Instagram contest- there’s one going on this month, from November 1st thru the 29th.