In 2008, the Reyes family purchased Carpenter Brothers Hardware store and in 2010 began Ita Yoga Studio in the same plaza on Plymouth Road.
Armando Reyes believes their family has built a sense of community and connection in the neighborhood where their businesses are.
“I have grown up in this store,” explained Armando Reyes. “Now you can come in and see my kids running around the aisles working with me. My 11-year-old son will cover as a cashier from time to time. Also, working alongside my wife helps keep our family time together.” The Reyes’ family has two sons, Armando, 11, and Dante Andres, 3.
Carpenter Brothers Hardware has been in the community for 45 years. Originally owned by the Carpenter brothers, the store was sold to Sam Hamilton in the 1980s. In the 1990s, Hamilton hired Armando Reyes, who worked in the store while in high school.
“Working for Sam Hamilton, I started taking shifts in the store while going to school,” recounted Armando. “I did what needed to be done. Stocking and cleaning shelving, assisting customers, working at the shop, et cetera. As time went by, I was promoted to general manager with the option to buy the store in 2006. After Reyes graduated from Eastern Michigan, with a bachelor in science with a concentration in CAD (computer-aided design), Sam Hamilton was ready to retire and hoping to pass on the store to good hands.”
Now the entire family takes part in the day-to-day operations of the store. “Balancing our work and family life has been seamless for us,” Ita said. “The kids come to the store with us and enjoy being a part of it, when needed….We make time for family activities outside of work such as gym time, dinners with our extended family, and vacations here and there.”
Ita was teaching yoga part time at a different venue when they bought Carpenter Brothers. Now her studio has grown from six classes a week to 30 classes a week. “I now balance my time running the studio, teaching yoga, and fulfilling my responsibilities at the hardware store. It is something I truly love to do, and does not ever feel like work. I’m surrounded by amazing people who make it a pleasure to show up for them day after day,” she said.
Always look on the bright side
The Reyes have faced challenges over the years. After they bought the hardware store the economy took a downturn, making things difficult. At that time, Plymouth Road Mall emptied out and the Merchant of Vino closed. Also, Pfizer moved its operations out of Ann Arbor, which brought further trials. But the family persevered.
They remain optimistic today. “We are proud to be a part of the Ann Arbor landscape,” said Ita. “In both our businesses, we aim to be of service and take care of people. We have been truly blessed to be embraced by this community. And we look forward to many years of service as well continued growth.”
Yoga Instructor of 10 years
My heritage: I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. My heritage is everything to me. It gives me my identity. It fills me with pride. My husband is also from Puerto Rico. Yet, we met here in Michigan. We teach our kids about our heritage and visit the island and family as often as we can.
Favorite meal to make for my children: My kids love their Puerto Rican style rice and beans with pork chops. It is a highly requested meal by my boys.
Yoga Style: I teach and practice flow style yoga. A practice that focuses on fluid movement between postures, when done mindfully, an opportunity to disconnect from distractions and turn inward.
Favorite pose: Favorite postures vary from time to time, based on my physical and mental needs. At the moment, and for a bit now, I find my peace in a headstand. This inversion offers a sense of lightness when my mind is crowded. The current state of the world is very heavy. So flipping myself upside down helps release the heaviness of the surroundings.
Favorite post-yoga snack: I really enjoy having fruit after practice. I try to keep an apple on hand and also I like to cool down with coconut water.
How I involve my kids: When I practice yoga at home, my kids will join from time to time. More in a playful manner than as a discipline. My oldest has varied his interest in the practice and my little one enjoys the playfulness of it.
I do practice and encourage pranayama with both of them. Breath control/pranayama, is an excellent way of calming a frustrated little mind. When they get frustrated, I ask them to take three deep breaths. You’d be amazed how something so simple calms down any level of frustration and helps find solutions to what initiated the frustration in the first place.
Armando and Ita Reyes are all about balance. They masterfully juggle a hardware store and a yoga studio, while raising a family.