10 Places I’ve Never Been: Woodland Creek Furniture

July 28, 2011

10 Places I've Never Been image

This summer I’m on a mission to explore uncharted territory in my own backyard, and improve Michigan’s economy one purchase at a time.

 

The strategy is simple. Visit 10 places I’ve never been before…just because, I’ve never been. Next on my list: Woodland Creek Furniture

Woodland Creek location image

 

If you’re thinking, "eh, Up North woodsy furniture…not my thing," don’t stop reading this post. At least until you scroll through the photos. Because if there’s one thing I learned visiting Woodland Creek Furniture, they’re more than just a rustic furniture store. But if that’s what you’re into, then boy are you in for a treat.

 

I’m willing to bet that if you’ve been to Traverse City in the last seven years, you’ve driven past Woodland Creek Furniture. Probably at about 55mph. Woodland Creek Furniture is located on US-31 North, across from beautiful East Grand Traverse Bay, on a large piece of property that used to be Traverse Bay Woolen. Despite the size of the complex, and fantastic roadside visibility, owner Rob Evina still fields calls regularly from locals who found him on the web instead of driving down the street.

Woodland Creek interior view

 

My first impression of Woodland Creek was one of total shock—at the size of their business, and the variety of goods they sell. Their primary business is hardwood furniture, the majority of which has a very natural, organic style. Clearly if you are decorating a home, cottage or business with a woodland theme this place should be on your list to visit. But there’s also a large collection of home decor, floral arrangements, and gift items that will interest shoppers looking for something you can’t get at a box-store in suburbia.

Woodland Creek bath imageWoodland Creek salt crystals image

 

They have one of the largest selections of Michigan or Up North themed bathroom accessories that I’ve ever seen in one store. I love the lighthouse collection shown here. But if you’re into hunting, or birding or fishing they’ve got you covered. And not just in bathroom decor. From books to lamps, children’s gifts and greeting cards, there’s more here than I can possibly show. Where else can you find a lamp made from Salt Crystals? These were seriously cool. And apparently they’ll ionize your room too!

Woodland Creek bear ornamentWoodland Creek hunt ornamentWoodland Creek ski ornament

 

Since I happen to have a die-hard fisherman at home, I’m always on the lookout for fishing-themed Christmas ornaments. Now I know where to look. There are trees scattered throughout the store each decorated in a different Up North theme. If you’re into hunting, fishing, skiing & snowboarding, camping or cottage life, they have a tree for that. I knew I’d find something I didn’t have.

 Woodland Creek furniture imageWoodland Creek bed image

 

But the basis for Woodland Creek Furniture is, well, furniture. And for the details on the history of Woodland Creek Furniture I had to talk to Ron Evina, the owner.

 

It was seven years ago that Woodland Creek took over the old Traverse Bay Woolen space and created a furniture store unlike any other across the Nation. Their pride in handmade furniture stems from Rob’s own love of unique woods and quality craftsmanship. What started out as a small handmade furniture business lead to 28,000 sq. ft. of space dedicated to their passion. And with customers flocking from all over the nation, it’s safe to say they’ve made a name for themselves in a very competitive business.

Woodland Creek furniture image

 

One of the secrets to Woodland Creek’s success is customization. Any piece you see in their showroom can be customized to suit your space, color palette, style or building dimensions. Fall in love with a dining table for 4 but your feeding a family of 8? No problem. Love the rustic bed on the showroom floor, but you’re more into cottage style? Pick a color and they’ll have it painted. "I love saying, Yes, Yes, Yes," said Rob, "especially when customers are so used to hearing No." Rob Evina is also proud of the fact that 30-40% of the furniture is made right here in MIchigan, much of it in Kalkaska just a few short miles away.

Woodland Creek furniture image

 

So most of my pictures paint a pretty woodsy theme, right? And I promised something beyond that. Well all you have to do is cross the parking lot to Woodland Creek’s new addition…UR Houzz. Say it out loud, and you’ll get it. If you like the idea of handmade furniture, but your style is classic or contemporary, UR Houzz is worth a look. You’ll find more colorful fabrics, cleaner lines and still a twist of the unexpected. They also expand your living space into the outdoors with a large collection of patio furniture, firepits and custom made pergolas.

Woodland Creek furnitureWoodland Creek imageWoodland Creek furniture image

Woodland Creek Furniture image

 

Located alongside the TART Trail, Woodland Creek has made an effort to provide a diversion for travelers young and old. There’s a giant playscape for the kids, a waterscape with a small bridge that leads directly to their ice cream shop. A unique partnership with Moomer’s Ice Cream allows guests to get premium ice cream without crossing town to visit the farm.

Woodland Creek Rob Evina imageWoodland Creek purchase

 

With a showroom this large, sitting alongside one of the busiest highways in Traverse City, it might surprise you to know Woodland Creek Furniture is more popular in New York, and LA than it is with locals. Their web presence and attendance at furniture shows has attracted the attention of interior designers, corporations and customers from across the country all looking for the quality they can produce—at a price that beats a Manhattan showroom anytime.

 

Alas my tour was complete. I couldn’t resist picking up a couple stocking stuffers for my husband…shhhh, don’t tell. I’m sure I’ll be back before Christmas, but I figured, no time like the present.

 

Woodland Creek Furniture is located at 4290 US 31 North in Traverse City, across from East Grand Traverse Bay. For more information reach them by phone at 231.938.8025 or visit them online at woodlandcreekfurniture.com. You can also find them on the Traverse Traveler iPhone app — our free mobile guide to the Traverse Area. Download on iTunes here.

 

If there’s a place in northern Michigan you’ve been dying to visit, but you’ve never made the time, I’d like to hear about it. Join the conversation on the Traverse Traveler Facebook page, and let me know where you’re going.

 

And stay tuned, as I plan to explore the next stop on my 10 Places I’ve Never Been tour:  The Rock Shop.

Traverse Traveler Giveaway during TCFF

July 25, 2011

Traverse Traveler Giveaway image

Spot Traverse Traveler in the Lip Dub and You Could Win

 

In honor of the premiere of the Traverse City Lip Dub during the Traverse City Film Festival we are announcing a giveaway for a lucky Traverse Traveler fan.

 

Did you know, Traverse Traveler had the opportunity to take part in the Traverse City Lip Dub? Brandy Wheeler, owner of Mealtickets & Unusual Ideas —the Traverse Traveler — was one of the singers in the community production created by FishSoup Films and the Traverse City Film Festival?

In honor of the premiere of the Lip Dub on Tuesday July 26th at the open space, Traverse Traveler is holding a contest to giveaway one of the T-shirts specially created for the Traverse Traveler crew.

 

To enter to win "Like" our Traverse Traveler Facebook page, then send us a message with the lines Brandy sings on the Traverse City Lip Dub.

Not on Facebook? Email us here with the lines Brandy sings and you’ll be entered to win. Contest ends at the end of the TCFF on July 31st.

Traverse City Film Festival July 26-31

July 25, 2011

Traverse City Film Festival poster imageTraverse City welcomes visitors to 7th annual Film Festival

 

Whether you’re a film fanatic, or just looking for a fun activity while visiting Traverse City, the Traverse City Film Festival is a event for the whole family. This year’s fesitival is packed with movies from near and far, including a community-wide Lip Dub that premiere’s on opening night.

 

The festival features:

  • Indie Films, Foreign Films, Documentaries and Shorts in 7 different venues
  • Free movie screens at the Open Space each night
  • Kids Fest with $1 daily films
  • Panel discussions & Film School at NMC

 

Free Open Space begin at dusk:

July 26 – Star Wars V: Empire Strikes Back and the premiere of the Traverse City Lip Dub

July 27 – Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

July 28 – Mrs. Doubtfire

July 29 – People’s Choice: Batman, the Dark Knight

July 30 – Tangled

 

An event this popular often sells out, so if you haven’t purchased tickets yet what are you waiting for? Visit their website: www.traversecityfilmfest.org.

 

 

10 Places I’ve Never Been: Korner Gem

July 21, 2011

10 Places I've Never Been

This summer I’m on a mission to explore uncharted territory in my own backyard, and improve Michigan’s economy one purchase at a time.

 

The strategy is simple. Visit 10 places I’ve never been before…just because, I’ve never been. Next on my list: Korner Gem

Korner Gem sign image

Ever since I received an unusual Fordite necklace from my husband I’ve wanted to stop in and meet the jeweler at Korner Gem. But I’d never found the time or opportunity.

 

Then I began my mission to explore 10 Places I’ve Never Been. And I realized…we don’t find time, we make it.

Brewery Creek entrance imageBrewery Creek sign

 

Korner Gem is located in a small plaza called Brewery Creek, across from the marina on the West side of M-22 as you head towards Suttons Bay. The best way to spot the entrance is to look for the big blue building that looks like a lighthouse (but houses a Subway). With a giant blue diamond sign on the white building it’s easy to find once you know where it is. This is the type of place you’ll be sharing with family and friends once you’ve seen what’s inside.

As soon as I opened the door I was greeted by the owner/designer, Kevin Gauthier. Although we’d never met, the jewelers glasses perched atop his head were a dead giveaway. Before I explained my mission I spent a few minutes absorbing the surroundings.

Korner Gem interior view imageKorner Gem mosaic image

 

Most shoppers would go straight for the jewelry cases to see what treasures await just behind the glass. But I couldn’t help looking at my feet. Just inside the front door, and sprawling across the tile floor was a beautiful stone mosaic river. The cut stone slices shone with a high polish and flowed across the floor in a rainbow of colors. But the story behind it was even more beautiful.

 

Kevin has honed his skills in gemology and rock collecting for decades as of the oldest—albiet youngest—members of the Grand Traverse Rock & Mineral Club. He’s met many friends along the way, some of whom have passed on. The stones in his river were collected and purchased from fellow rock hounds and vendors, only two of whom had the chance to see his creation before passing. The river remains a beautiful tribute to a lifelong journery collecting precious fossils and friends.

 

There are over 600 slabs of stone in Kevin’s river, represending some 70 varieties of rock from across the world. Having designed and laid a tile mosaic in my own home I have a special appreciation for the time, toil and back pain associated with a project like this! It’s worth a trip just to see it.

Korner Gem necklace display

The first impression that struck me in Korner Gem was the atmosphere. Perhaps the stone river carried me away, but there’s something very relaxed and comfortable about this store. I think it’s the rocks. They’re everywhere. From agates and petoskeys, to fossils and geodes exploding with amethyst.

 

Then Kevin said something that explained what I was feeling, "The jewelry profession supports the rock habit."

Korner Gem amethyst geodeKorner Gem display

 

Indeed, Kevin has created a fabulous jewelry collection by focusing on what he loves: rock collecting. Since the age of nine when he floated along the waters of Lake Leelanau on a surfboard wearing a dive mask and scanning the shallows for stone, Kevin has had a rock habit. At fourteen he started is entrepreneurial adventure selling polished petoskey stones at the Holiday Inn gift shop. Years later, he’s turned that childhood pastime into a 12-year-old jewelry business. After two moves, Korner Gem has found a home in Brewery Creek.

Korner Gem charms in hand

 

His work ranges from elegant to whimsical. Display cases throughout the store showcase custom necklaces, pendants, rings and charms. But what strikes me the most is Korner Gem’s use of Michigan beach stones in creative settings that reflect the area. Petoskey stones, Leland blue and even Fordite (or Paint, as he calls it) have been fashioned into creative charms in familiar shapes.

Korner Gem charms image

 

First known for his signature design, the ‘Beachcomber’ —a flip-flop sandal crafted from beach stones and sterling silver—Korner Gem now creates several charm designs with a Michigan theme. From the mitten state (upper and lower peninsulas) to sailboats and lighthouses, shells, frogs and turtles, each design is crafted from sterling silver and local stones, and polished to a beautiful sheen. What a perfect souvenir from a trip Up North.

What’s even more exciting to a rock scavenger like myself…is Kevin’s interest in creating custom designs. I love the idea of bringing in stones I’ve picked up along the shore and having them made into a charm, a ring or even a beaded watch band. And Kevin is more than willing to create a custom shape for his customers. If you’re into birding, how about a chickadee? Or maybe a fish ring for the angler in your life.

Korner Gem stone beadsKorner Gem necklace 

 

Some of the most popular items at Korner Gem are the Michigan stone beads designed to fit today’s charm bracelets like Pandora, Camille and Troll. Imagine creating a memory bracelet from stones you collected along the shore at grandma’s cottage? Or how about a necklace featuring the petoskey that took all afternoon to discover? I’m always on the look-out for unique gifts and this is a great place to find them.

I’ve spent many hours searching for petoskey stones on the shores of Lake Michigan, and I happen to have a pretty good eye. So I brought some of my stones in with me to see what Kevin could do. After looking at the beads I fell in love with his idea for a four-sided bead featuring four different stones. He’ll use my Petoskey, a Leland Blue, a Favosite fossil (which I didn’t know that I had) and Fordite—because I’m a huge fan.

 Korner Gem rock collecting books

Kevin identified my stones in no time at all, which should come as no surprise since he’s written three books on the subject. Rock Picker’s Guides to Lake Michigan, Lake Superior and Lake Huron. What a great cottage coffee table read, or gift for a child who needs something to do at the beach besides chasing seagulls and fighting with their siblings.

 

Korner Gem iron ore samples

Kevin also took the time to share some rock facts with me. I asked about the creation of Leland Blue and Frankfort Green, since these are "misfits" found only in this region. He pulled out samples of iron ore and the glass-like by-product that formed in the smelting process. This "slag" was deposited in Lake Michigan from several processing operations in the late 1800s. The source of the color (blue vs. green) is debatable, but most likely determined by the process used at each location.

Korner Gem Kevin Gauthier imageKorner Gem lapis image

I also learned that rocks smell. Didn’t know that, did you? There’s something called a stink stone that smells like rotten eggs when you break it open. When grinding the stones for shaping and polishing some produce a pleasant smell, like turquoise. Petoskey stones have an oily smell, and the aroma from a ground piece of amber is like pine. The grinding process is a dusty one, but sometimes it too yields an interesting result. Lapis creates blue dust, where most stones are white.

 

Korner Gem my purchase imageKorner Gem book and stones image

Part of the magic at Korner Gem is the knowledge you receive when talking with Kevin and the staff. Their passion for jewelry making, and rock collecting is infectious. I left my stones there for a make-over, and picked up the Lake Michigan Rock Picker’s Guide to share with my kids. Hopefully our next trip to the beach will yield many more colorful memories to treasure.

 

In the back of the book there’s a line I just love, "We don’t own rocks, we only borrow them…so enjoy them while you are their keepers."

 

The next time you’re cruising through your hometown on auto-pilot, thinking about the grocery list and searching for the dry cleaning ticket you thought was stuck to the bottom of your cup holder, put that thought on hold. Look around you, at the OPEN signs on doorways your pass every day. Find one that calls to you and take a mini detour. I’d highly recommend a stop at Korner Gem, in Traverse City.

 

Korner Gem is located just off M-22 in Traverse City, on the West side of town. 13031 S. Fisherman Cove, Traverse City to be exact. For more information reach them by phone at 231.929.9175 or visit them online at www.KornerGem.com. They are not yet on Facebook, but you can find them on the Traverse Traveler iPhone app — our free mobile guide to the Traverse Area. Download on iTunes here.

 

If there’s a place in northern Michigan you’ve been dying to visit, but you’ve never made the time, I’d like to hear about it. Join the conversation on the Traverse Traveler Facebook page, and let me know where you’re going.

 

And stay tuned, as I plan to explore the next stop on my 10 Places I’ve Never Been tour:  Woodland Creek Furniture.

10 Places I’ve Never Been: Chateau de Leelanau

July 13, 2011

10 Places I've Never Been image

 

This summer I’m on a mission to explore uncharted territory in my own backyard, and improve Michigan’s economy one purchase at a time.

 

The strategy is simple. Visit 10 places I’ve never been before…just because, I’ve never been. Next on my list: Chateau de Leelanau Winery

Chateau de Leelanau winery image

Chateau de Leelanau Winery

When it comes to wine, I prefer to drink local. Since I live in the heart of northern Michigan wine country and work with several wineries I’ve had the opportunity to visit many tasting rooms. But until this summer I’d never been to Chateau de Leelanau. And it’s not because it’s off the beaten path. In fact, Chateau de Leelanau is on one of the most well traversed highways in the area, M-22, at the beginning of the Leelanau Wine Trail. And yet so many people pass them by. I wanted to find out why.

Matt Gregory Chateau de Leelanau image

Matt Gregory, vintner, greeter and face of Chateau de Leelanau, was in the tasting room on the fateful day I walked through the door and sprang the news of my 10 Places I’ve Never Been series. Much like his wine industry cohorts he generously offered his time and some wine samples to walk me through the history of Chateau de Leelanau.

 

I’d like to say you can’t miss their tasting room, located on M-22 next to E. Hilltop Road, but the truth is so many people do. And that’s one thing the new owners are determined to change.

Chateau de Leelanau tasting room

Those who remember the former tasting space will not recognize the building since Matt and his family moved in. They’ve cleared out the dusty tchotchkes, expanded the tasting bar and reinvented their brand with a simple clean logo. The goal: to rebuild the reputation of a winery born in the new millenium, and reborn in 2010.

 

While Matt and his family are new to the wine business, they are certainly not new to agriculture. In fact, that’s how they ended up with a winery in the first place. The tasting room for Chateau de Leelanau sits on M-22 just south of Suttons Bay. But the vineyard is several miles north — right next door to the Gregory family orchards, aka: Cherry Bay Orchards and Shoreline Fruit. When the winery and vineyards went up for sale, it seemed like a good time to make some wine.

Chateau de Leelanau wine imageChateau de Leelanau wine image

I arrived in the winery for my tasting the same day Matt submitted his wines to the Michigan Wine & Spirits Competition for the first time. Since they’re a new winery, with less than a dozen wines for 2010, he sent them all. But the Gregory family didn’t join the wine ranks for the medals.

Chateau de Leelanau glass imageChateau de Leelanau wine image

"We want to create palatte pleasing wines for the customers, that represent the agricultural background of Leelanau County," Matt explained. The industry folks often preach dry, dry, dry but nearly 90% of Chateau de Leelanau’s customers want sweet, sweet, sweet. The challenge is to produce wines that bring a smile to all their lips.

 Chateau de Leelanau labels imageChateau de Leelanau cider imageChateau de Leelanau wine image

After trying the wines, I was quite surprised by my favorites. Typically I prefer sweet whites, and while I like their Select Harvest, and signature Bianca, that’s not what I left with. I fell for a bottle of red, Solem Farm Red to be exact. It’s the perfect backyard BBQ, easy-to-drink, red wine. My second surprise was their Hard Apple Cider. The unusual combination of Sweetango™, Northern Spy and Golden Delicious apples, grown on the family farm, makes for a fabulous hard cider.

 

Little known fact: the Cherry Wine and Hard Apple Cider are Chateau de Leelanau’s best sellers and neither were in their sights when they set out to make wine. This year Chateau de Leelanau will produce 1000 cases of Cherry wine, compared to a very limited supply of their signature Bianca, at just over 40 cases.

Chateau de Leelanau wine imageChateau de Leelanau wine corralChateau de Leelanau walkup window
 

If there’s one thing that stands out about Matt and the approach at Chateau de Leelanau it’s their laid-back style.

"We’re farmers, man! We’re not a snooty joint,"

Matt explained as he showed off one of their latest additions. They’ve fenced in a ‘wine corral’ just outside the building, complete with a window for walk-up service. This summer guests will be able to relax and enjoy a taste or a glass while they soak up the sun with friends and family. And after hearing about weekend specials like Cherry Sangria (see their recipe on our

Summer Sippers: Cocktails from Northern Michigan

post) and the infamous cherry wine snowcone…I’m definitely coming back this summer!

Chateau de Leelanau wines imageChateau de Leelanau open sign

Before I left I had to get some food and wine pairings from the winemaker. So next time you’re debating a menu, give these a try:

>> Cherry Wine paired with pulled pork tacos

>> Bianca with bacon-wrapped scallops

>> Solem Farm Red & anything off the backyard BBQ

Vintner’s Picks: 2010 Cab Franc and 2010 Pinot Noir

 

I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the "family five" that make up the Chateau de Leelanau crew.

Don Gregory: The patriarch of Cherry Bay Orchards, one of the state’s largest cherry growers and production facilities

Matt Gregory: Nephew to Don, my host with the most, face of Chateau de Leelanau, and vintner

Roger Veliquette: The "food science guy," Roger crossed over from the Great Lakes Packing Company and brings years of experience to the table to tackle day-to-day aspects of winemaking

Andrew Gregory: Brother to Matt, who work for the marketing arm of the family cherry business, Shoreline Fruit

Mark Miezeo: Cousin to Andrew and Matt, and farm manager

Chateau de Leelanau truck image

Chateau de Leelanau is located on M-22 south of Sutton’s Bay at the intersection of E. Hilltop Road, that’s 5048 S. West Bayshore Dr, Suttons Bay for those using a GPS. For more information reach them by phone at 231.271.8888 or visit them online at chateaudeleelanau.com. Show them some love by becoming a fan of their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter @CDLwinery You can also find them on the Traverse Traveler iPhone app — our free mobile guide to the Traverse Area. Download on iTunes here.

 

If there’s a place in northern Michigan you’ve been dying to visit, but you’ve never made the time, I’d like to hear about it. Join the conversation on the Traverse Traveler Facebook page, and let me know where you’re going.

 

And stay tuned, as I plan to explore the next stop on my 10 Places I’ve Never Been tour:  Korner Gem.

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