C&M Rock Shop started as a summer project. Bruce and Shirley Mueller sold rocks they dug up or found themselves, offering their wares from card tables set up on Shirley’s grandparents’ farm along U.S. 31. That was 1966.
Over the years, C&M has grown. Now housed in a former barn basement and overflowing onto tidy rows of tables outside, it’s a seasonal rock shop destination for both curious passers-by and rock hounds alike.
On any given afternoon, you’ll find all ages sifting through an astounding array of rocks and fossils—polished and rough, sold loose and as jewelry. Kids especially love picking out their own treasure, or showing Bruce and Shirley a cool rock they found in their backyard or at the beach.
Bruce has been passionate about geology since childhood, when a 350-million-year-old fossil he found set him loose on a lifetime of seeking knowledge. Shirley jokes that she got interested in rocks in 1950 … the year she and Bruce got married. “I did collect rocks on the driveway as a girl,” she says, gesturing out the rock shop’s screen door. “I put them on Grandma’s kitchen windowsill, and, strangely enough, later I’d see some in the driveway strikingly similar to those I’d already found,” she laughs.
So what’s the best way to get kids interested in rock hunting? “Turn them loose in here,” says Shirley. “Let them ask us, ‘What’s this?’”
Bruce and Shirley Mueller have been married for 69 years, and were high school sweethearts.
Adds Bruce, who has a masters degree in geology from the University of Illinois, “Have kids bring in things that they’ve found. Kids get really excited to learn how old it is and how it formed, and we can generally tell them all about it.”
There’s certainly no shortage of places to hunt for rocks in Michigan. Michigan has the longest freshwater coastline in the U.S., and Michigan is home to the largest variety of stones in the entire world. Glaciers covered almost 200 million acres when they formed and acted like a giant conveyor belt bringing rocks south to what is now Michigan.
“I tell kids, the glaciers started at the coast of Canada and picked up a piece of everything. In Michigan, we can find things that could only have come from the bottom of Hudson Bay,” says Bruce. Budding rock hounds can check out Lake Michigan Rock Picker’s Guide, Lake Superior Rock Picker’s Guide and Lake Huron Rock Picker’s Guide co-authored by Bruce Mueller and Kevin Gauthier for more information about our state’s coolest stones.
Rock Hunting Laws
As with almost any activity that’s fun…there are laws so we all can continue to enjoy the experience. Michigan law states that an individual cannot remove more than 25 pounds per year of any rock, mineral (exclusive of any gold bearing material) or invertebrate fossil from state-owned land for personal or non-commercial hobby use. It is illegal under federal law to remove stones from a National Lakeshore, such as Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.