New lease on life: Buchanan manufacturer purchases Leader Publications building

Published 4:43 pm Thursday, October 20, 2022

NILES  — A local business owner will be “taking the lead” on developing one of the city’s historic buildings.

Jen Tabor, owner of independent craft design manufacturer Souldier, recently purchased the building on the 200 block of Fourth Street for the future site of its headquarters, manufacturing and other business endeavors.

Built in 1926, the 35,291 square-foot building is currently home to Leader Publications, Off Main Street Salon and Shelf Life Community Bookstore, with each planning to continue leasing space in the building. The building was formerly owned by Leader Publications, 217 N. 4th St.

Leader Publications is publisher of The Niles Daily Star, Dowagiac Daily News, Edwardsburg Argus and Cassopolis Vigilant along with Michiana Life magazine, The Leader and related digital products. 

Founded in 2005 in Chicago and currently based in Buchanan, Souldier produces custom goods including fretted instrument straps, dog and cat collars, saddle straps, purses and more using primarily upcycled materials. Souldier has reached an international audience, with recording artists like Chris Stapleton, Taylor Swift, Tom Petty and Panic! At The Disco sporting the brand.

Tabor respects the history of the building and plans to honor that history with her plans for the space. The building will be named and referred to as “The Star Building,” just as it was years ago. Tabor plans to use the available space in the building to house a guitar store, reopen the former Pickwick Club on the second floor and create a mid-size event and concert venue.

“When the Leader building became available, we started to talk to the owners because we were looking to continue to expand the business in terms of having a comprehensive music company where we can have a guitar store and sell our stuff, open up a restaurant here and have a venue where people can come see music,” Tabor said. “This location allows us to add all the aspects of the music industry into our brand in one location.”

Tabor is looking forward to further engaging Southwest Michigan by establishing business roots in Niles.

“I love working-class, blue-collar towns,” she said. “There’s a lot of heart and a lot of passion for the things that we do. Southwest Michigan has done a great job of really celebrating the music community and we’re just adding more resources to what exists here. I think that we can add on to everything that’s going on and it’ll be a symbiotic relationship between us and the mission of our local neighborhoods.”