After 100 years in the dry cleaning business the Ziker family is branching out and ready to play a major role in the transformation of South Bend.
It all starts with the very building on E. Sample Street where it all began for Ziker Cleaners.
Ziker is a fourth generation family business that started when a 14 year old Russian immigrant named Joe opened a tailor shop to serve the Vaudeville industry.
“A vision came forward to repurpose the building into something that would benefit the community, and the City of South Bend,” said David Ziker with Vested Interest.
About a year and a half ago, Ziker Cleaners moved out of its place of birth and ultimately decided to divvy up the sacred space among others—incubator style.
“What we describe as a good fit here is a small business that is looking for an opportunity for more space but that has an education spin to it,” David Ziker said.
For instance, one portion of the campus contains dozens of old pianos that were saved from the landfill. Not only will the pianos be rebuilt and resold, but the tenant has pledged to resolve a persistent public predicament.
“There’s only two piano tuners in the area and it’s kind of a lost art,” Ziker explained: “So the idea is to teach that skill and hopefully put some people into the workforce.”
Jacob Titus is all about education. His mission is to educate the pod cast listening public about the transformation going on in his town (https://westsb.com/) “I tell people that I capture life in South Bend—a rust belt city on the move.”
When Titus isn’t using the pod cast studio for his own show, he rents it out to others. Needless to say he feels right at home here. “In the simplest sense they are businesses but I think all the businesses that have found themselves here so far are kind of mission driven businesses.”
Headed to the second floor of the oldest building on the Ziker campus is a business on a mission to bring opera to town. “We have about 14,000 square feet of second floor space that we're looking to build a home for the South Bend Lyric Opera and practice facility and teaching facility classrooms,” said Ziker. “It is a new role and a different role and it’s one that I’m learning and evolving into but with all the different things that are going on around town and the energy and now the city backing our project, it’s brought a lot of good energy into the project so we’re really excited about it.”
This week, Ziker pledged to make at least $750,000 worth of improvements to the building. The City of South Bend pledged to contribute $100,000 to the project through its redevelopment commission.
There are actually several buildings on the Ziker campus. The oldest dates back to the 1880’s while the newest addition was completed in 1993. The campus has a total of 70,000 square feet of space.