The smell of money

Kelly Bruning of Soaps and Such has paired up with Besser Museum and its Founders Society to springboard a fundraising project to raise funds to refurbish the old Maltz Bank.

This partnership has put the smell of money in the air literally. What’s the link with the artisan’s shop and the museum? The original 1921 vault is located at Soaps and Such, 210 N. Second. The original 1872 Exchange Bank of George L. Maltz & Co. is on the grounds of the Besser Museum.

Bruning, who rents the space from Craig Patterson, has turned the vault into a mini-museum with old photographs and history provided by Alpena County Library, artifacts on loan from the museum, frames donated by Patterson, and joint efforts of the property owner and herself to add lighting, ramps and safety aspects to the vault to make it available for the public to enter and learn about the past history of the building and the bank itself.

Visitors can even see an old vault ventilator dated 1921 still on the wall of the vault and the mechanisms involved in the locking chambers to seal the vault.

“I thought it was more important to preserve the history of Alpena and the building itself than use the vault for storage,” said Bruning. “It’s been a long road but the cooperation among many people has helped me to offer to Alpena residents and visitors a little piece of history while also patronizing the shop. I think it’s the perfect example of social responsibility by an entrepreneur.”

The mini-museum is open during Soaps and Such shop hours and free to the public.

Bruning handcrafted a soap just for this project that is green in color and which is scented with a fragrance called the Scent of Money.

Christine Witulski, executive director of the museum, researched and developed the packaging. The soap comes wrapped in a bit of history with a duplication of an original $5 bill issued to the Alpena National Bank in 1929, along with some historical information about the Maltz Bank.

The team has been working since February to bring the product along and into the crafting stage. An original run of 50 soaps is available for sale in the museum’s gift shop, where the proceeds will go to refurbish the original Maltz Bank structure.

In addition, Soaps and Such will also be selling the soap with proceeds to be donated as well. The soap is priced at five bucks indicative of the bill that surrounds it.