Northern Michigan Entrepreneurs Revitalize General Stores

Recently, several families in Northern Michigan have chosen the general store concept as a basis for their businesses and also as a launching point for their desire to reinvigorate their hometowns.

The general store framework allows for creativity and flexibility, melding with the lifestyle priorities of this generation of entrepreneurs. Some of the proprietors offer grocery basics, like a traditional general store, but also local art, home goods and more, adapting as their community’s needs change. Another is operating as a retro vacation rental. Take a look. 

THE CURATOR | 200 E. Michigan Ave., Grayling

Penny and Erich Podjaske-Pippo took over a storefront in a 120-year-old building in downtown Grayling that had sat vacant for six years. Their mission: help revitalize the Grayling marketplace while supporting Michigan makers. They carry beautiful home goods, pet items, baby supplies and gifts, toys, clothing and art. Erich is also the City of Grayling Zoning Administration and Economic Development Director and Penny Jean is a talented singer and musician, part of the duo Oh Brother Big Sister. Together, they’re investing in the region where they have chosen to raise their five children.

GUNTHER’S GENERAL STORE | 201 Water St., East Jordan

Rebecca and Rick Gotts are renovating a handful of historic buildings in East Jordan, including a marina, future tap house with an antique boat and woodworking shop, a new waterside wedding venue and two houses, which will be available to rent. One of the houses was originally a general store in the old town of South Arm. The Gotts family has not only fixed up Gunther’s General Store (now open as an Airbnb) but also resurrected much of the original look and feel—penny candy, pantry items and all—with the help of 90-year-old Elaine Dvoracek (her maiden name is Gunther), who was born and raised there. “We want to make sure the project is going to help East Jordan in the future,” Rebecca emphasizes. 

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