10 Places I’ve Never Been: Rock Shop

August 4, 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: Rock Shop

Rockshop street view image 

 

I know you’ve seen it. If you’ve driven along US 31 between Interlochen and Honor you’ve driven past it. The question is, have you ever been inside the C & M Rock Shop? I hadn’t until this week.

 

That’s not to say I haven’t noticed their little enterprise on the side of the road. In fact, I’ve always wondered, "Does anybody shop there?" Turns out, more than a few people shop there. That’s why it’s been open for more than forty years!

Rock Shop image

 

When I walked in to the shop on Tuesday and asked for Bruce Mueller, the owner, I was met with some reservation. Why was I writting an article? Was it going to cost anything? But I assured them it was my own curiosity that put their Rock Shop on my list of 10 Places I’ve Never Been, and I’d be happy to share their story because I believe it just might interest some other folks out there who have passed by for years. With that, I was welcomed into Bruce & Shirley’s little slice of geologic capitalism.

 

Bruce Mueller lead an interesting life before he settled down to sell rocks. He was in the Korean War, where his actions and responsibilities were considered top secret. So secret he’s not even sure what they were. After the war he used the GI bill to get a college degree in geology, a subject that’s been of interest to him since the age of eight. He proceeded to get a masters degree and taught high school in Rockford, Illinois for 35 years.

Rock Shop cases imageRock Shop polished stones image

 

I could’t resist the obvious question: why a rock shop, on the side of the road in Northern Michigan? "I started this so I’d have something to do when I retired," said Bruce.

 

Bruce and Shirley found a 1904 barn that had collapsed because the roofline was so steep no one would go up to reshingle it. They worked with the basement structure, adding a simple roof to create the shop, even cut a doorway into the stone silo so it could be used as an office. In 1967 they opened the C & M Rock Shop for business. They sold $260 in rocks that year. "I’d rather not say how many we sell now," they smiled. But let’s just say Shirley’s family isn’t laughing at them any more.

Rock Shop meteorite imageRock Shop agate image

 

The Rock Shop sells polished and unpolished stones from around the world. There are several display cases showcasing fossils that date back before the age of dinosaurs. Trilobites, cephalopods, ammonites and even metorites line the shelves. You can sort through gemostones like peridot or Michigan greenstone, or pick up a beautifully polished Lake Superior agate.

Rockshop nautilus imageRockshop chain coral imageRockshop Michigan greenstone image

 

It may have been years since Bruce taught school, but he hasn’t lost his passion for geology or his desire to share his knowledge. We chatted for nearly an hour about the geologic origin of Michigan, the make-up of our local rockbed, and stories behind the fossils found throughout the store. He also shared many secrets of the popular Petoskey stone that beach combers search for with passion and nostalgia. It’s probably the Petoskey stone that has kept the Rock Shop in business for so many years.

Rock Shop Petoskey stones

Rock shop petoskey stones

Inside the Rock Shop there are Petoskey stones everywhere. A long table showcases polished stones of all sized. They sell some Petoskey stone jewelry as well. Outside shoppers can sort through piles of Petoskeys that have been dug up from the rockbed. These raw stones bear a much closer resemblance to the coral from which they were formed, since they excavated directly from the ground rather than tumbled in the waves which naturally smooth out their edges.

Rockshop Puddingstone image

 

Outside, visitors browse through the larger stones, including one of Bruce’s favorites: the Pudding Stone. This conglomerate rock is a mixture of several other stones held together by quartz. These stones would have formed over 2 billion years ago, transported here by glaciers.

 

With all the stones on site I wondered if Bruce was an avid rock hound or if he purchased the stones he sells. It turns out he’s willing to buy, if the timing is right. In fact, just that morning a man stopped by with 500 lbs. of Petoskeys—an unwanted inheritance from a lifelong collector. So Bruce bought them. "I especially try to buy from children," he added, paying $0.50 to $1.00 depending on the size and quality of the stone.

Rock shop Bruce Mueller

 

Bruce is a great story-teller, and seeks to share the unexpected or unique facts about his subject. Here’s one of his Did You Know stories, that I just had to share.

If you want to buy a gravestone that will last:

  • Choose a marble stone and it will last 100 years, but the effects of acid rain will destroy it;
  • Choose a granite headstone and water erosion will begin the degrade the inscription after 500 years;
  • But if you choose a Quartz headstone, in 7 billion years, when the sun expands into a red giant and vaporizes the earth you will STILL be able to read what it says on the tombstone…assuming there will be anyone left to read it!

 

I asked Bruce the question I was dying to have answered: how does a business that sells rocks stay in business for so long?

"We picked, by sheer accident, the right location," he answered. Simple as that.

Rockshop book image

 

Before I left I picked up a copy of one of Bruce’s books, The Complete Guide to Petoskey Stones, which he kindly autographed for me. After the third stop on my tour I discovered that Bruce is co-Author of the series of Rock Picker’s Guides with Kevin Gallagher of Korner Gem. It’s a small world.

 

Generations of families have been stopping by this tiny Rock Shop on the side of the road in Benzie County for nearly 45 years. If you haven’t made a point to pull the car over and check it out, I encourage you to do so. Especially if you have any young rock hounds in the backseat just itching to get their hands on a petoskey, or see some amazing fossils.

 

C & M Rock Shop is located along US 31 between Interlochen & Honor. 13236 Honor Hwy, Beulah, MI 49617 to be precise. They are open seasonally. For more information reach them by phone at 231.325.2309. They also own a jewelry showroom in Rockton, IL. Check out their website here:  www.gemshoponline.com. As with all my 10 Places locations, 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:  22 Vines & Wines.

 

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.

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.

10 Places I’ve Never Been: Hodge Podge Lodge

July 7, 2011

10 Places I've Never Been composite

 

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. First on my list: The Hodge Podge Lodge

 Hodge Podge Lodge exterior

The Hodge Podge Lodge

I’ve browsed the stores in Beulah for years, but I’d never noticed the sign for the Hodge Podge Lodge. Technically that’s because they’ve only been open just over a year. But that’s beside the point. What matters is how easy it is to stroll the same path without really paying attention to what’s new.

 

Truth be told, I first heard about the Hodge Podge Lodge when they signed up for a listing on the Traverse Traveler app. But it was their clever name, and the photo of a wooden lampshade that drew me to Beulah to check it out.

 

Located on main street in downtown Beulah, the Hodge Podge Lodge is somewhat hidden behind the elevated ramp enterance that leads visitors past a welcoming window display. An ever changing array of antiques, clothing and lamps line the large windows — an attempt to lure in visitors with a peek at the treasures that await inside.

 Hodge Podge Lodge interior

Store manager Jennifer Kolinske greets all guests from behind the front counter, offering assistance if any is needed. I introduced myself and explained my mission to visit 10 Places I’ve Never Been, and admitted that the Hodge Podge Lodge was on that list. Her enthusiasm for the idea and the prospect of being included let me know I’d made a great choice for my first stop. So I got to work exploring the store and learning more about their history.

Hodge Podge Lodge imageHodge Podge Lodge vault 

If you’ve never noticed the Hodge Podge Lodge in Beulah, but consider yourself a local, it may be because the store is just over a year old. But the building is not. In fact, the store is housed in the old Central State Bank building, circa 1912. Whether you recognize the exterior or not, you can’t miss the giant vault on the main floor that serves as an office.

 Hodge Podge Lodge image

The name of the business is no random assignment. The collection of goods for sale clearly falls into the category of Hodge Podge, with an ecclectic mix of antiques, vintage collectibles, new and resale clothing, arts and crafts. They added the word Lodge to incorporate the store’s primary artisisan focus: homemade lamps with a uniquely rustic lodge look. The lamps are a story on their own.

 Hodge Podge Lodge lampHodge Podge Lodge lamp

Store owner, Larry Revnell began making these unique lamps and selling them at arts & crafts fairs. Each lampshade is created from a single piece of wood, with no glue or veneer. Larry, and his brother Joe, have developed a technique for turning white pine logs into lampshades. The nature of the material is shown in every piece, including knot holes, and often revealing a raw and irregular bark edge and a soft golden glow through the thin wood. The brothers search for a base that suits each shade, thus creating one-of-a-kind lamps every time.

 

Most lamp bases are a collection of found materials, from antiques to driftwood, to towers built of beach stones. Some are quite rustic, but they’ve expanded to include classic shaply lamps for a more contemporary setting. The lamps are now exclusively sold at the Hodge Podge Lodge in downtown Beulah. So you’ll have to stop in to see their unique elegance.

 Hodge Podge Lodge image

The decision to open a store in downtown Beulah also reflects the creativity of the rest of Larry’s family. There are adorable crocheted hats and prayer purses made by his sister Teresa, and his daughter Chris is responsible for their popular tie-dye collection that lines the walls at the back of the store.

 Hodge Podge Lodge

The Hodge Podge Lodge is one of those places where you have to look at everything, because the perfect item might be hidden in one of the nooks and crannies, next to a bowl of pipes or behind a vintage lunchbox. And I love the way Jennifer has mixed and matched all of the displays. There’s vintage glassware and tablesettings on an antique table, with a colorful handmade teddy bear waiting to dine. From hippie art, to handmade jewelry made from bottle caps and fabric scraps, you never know what’s around the corner.

 Hodge Podge LodgeHodge Podge LodgeHodge Podge Lodge

Hodge Podge LodgeHodge Podge LodgeHodge Podge Lodge

I found my perfect purchase on the floor. In a small collection of resale shoes I discovered an adorable pair of heels. Lo and behold they were just my size. And best of all, the resale price:  $10. How could I resist.

 Hodge Podge Lodge image

So I left with my $10 shoes, and plans to come back whenever I’m in Beulah. Because in a place like the Hodge Podge Lodge, the inventory changes almost daily. And I know the next time I stop by I’ll fall in love with something else.

 

The Hodge Podge Lodge is located in downtown Beulah a 254 S Benzie Blvd. For more information reach them by phone at 231.882.7010 or visit them online at hodgepodgelodgemi.com. Show them some love by becoming a fan of their new Facebook page. 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:  Chateau de Leelanau Winery.

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