Local Businesses Change Hands | The Ticker
Three well-known shops in the area are changing hands, with the Harbor Café in Elk Rapids, which is to become a new village bookstore, the long-standing archery pro shop Gauthier’s Archery under new ownership and the 123 Speakeasy in downtown Traverse City, which is listed on the market.
Karen Simpson, owner of Cellar 152 and the Elk Rapids General Store, has bought the Harbor Café building at 129 River Street from Kay Clark. According to Realtor.com, the property sold for $ 239,900. Clark bought the café eleven years ago, according to her daughter Kelly Jacobs, who worked as a waitress in the restaurant. Jacobs’ brother and Clark’s son, Chad Clark, also worked in the kitchen. “At this point in my mother’s life, it is time to retire,” said Jacobs of the decision to close the family business. “She’s been thinking about retiring for the past few years, but we really loved the place and our customers. So we kept postponing it. Thinking it would take a couple of years to complete we thought it would be better to at least get it on the list. To our surprise, it actually sold very quickly. “
Simpson, who recently sold the building that houses Bayfront Beach and Bike to the company’s owners, says the timing was a fluke to purchase the Harbor Café building. “I’ve always wanted to open a bookstore,” she says. “It’s been a dream of mine for a long time and a lot of people have said we need a bookstore in town. I plan to set up a bookstore in this room and have coffee and tea and a cozy place for people to read. “
Simpson says the unnamed bookstore will have a general selection of fiction and non-fiction, but notes that she plans to specialize in “children’s and teenagers’ books, illustrated books, and food books. That is also one of my passions. ”The former café building will be completely renovated in winter before a targeted opening in spring. “We’re basically ripping out everything except we keep a small kitchen area for the future,” she says. “We’re going to stretch back a few meters to make the room bigger. There will be many mechanical upgrades. The interior will be completely renewed; I would like to make a mural on the ceiling and have a cozy window seat. “
In Traverse City, Gauthier’s Archery – the oldest continuously operating archery pro shop in the state of Michigan – is under new ownership after founder Jim Gauthier decided to retire after 41 years in the business. Gauthier notes that he has been in retail since high school. He once ran the former Field and Stream store on State Street in Traverse City before starting his archery business in the basement of the Amical building on Front Street in 1980. A decade later, he built his own 1788 M-37 South building and has been there ever since.
In the past few years, Gauthier says, he started thinking about retirement as crossbows became more and more high-tech and more sophisticated. “The biggest thing was that the technology passed me by,” he admits. “You got so technical. I thought I’d let someone else take it over with more enthusiasm. ”Gauthier put the deal up for sale on a“ soft ”basis and attracted several potential buyers. However, he says that most of these buyers didn’t want his store but his exclusive product lines – one of the key benefits that allowed Gauthier to stay competitive as large stores moved in over the years. Then Greg McDonald, a sports enthusiast and local tanning salon owner, came in.
“Greg wanted to carry on my legacy and his passion was really there,” says Gauthier. “He’s a veteran too, which is really cool. I was really impressed with what I saw of him. ”Gauthier and McDonald spent several months negotiating before closing a deal this summer to buy the company from McDonald’s. Since then, Gauthier has actively supported the transfer of ownership, saying he is always available to answer questions or offer help whenever McDonald needs it. Although Gauthier’s decision to sell the company was bittersweet, he’s already enjoying the fruits of his retirement – especially being out in the woods during the hunting season rather than stuck behind a counter.
“Now in the preseason I can go hunting, ride my bike, travel with my wife,” he says. It was especially rewarding to be in the field for archery season this year, he says. “I just got back from Alberta and hunted there for 10 days. It was just great. ”Gauthier adds that archery sales are still thriving in Michigan despite the decline in the number of hunters. While many children are always more interested in playing video games or using their phone indoors than hunting outside, Gauthier says that when they are exposed to the sport, they fall in love. “We just have to expose the children to it,” he says. “It’s part of our heritage. The children who appear in it pass it on to their children. That is our hope: that it will continue to be passed on to the children. “
Another store in Traverse City could soon be in new ownership. The owners of 123 Speakeasy on West Front Street in downtown Traverse City (pictured) have just put the bar up for sale. The deal is listed for $ 220,000 and according to the listing includes the “antique bar, furniture, full fitout, liquor license, inventory (subject to MLCC approval), kitchen equipment, and a below-market lease through January 2027 “.
Co-owner and general manager Taylor Keefe says staffing challenges ultimately failed the company, which tried to reopen its doors this fall after closing since the pandemic began. “The speakeasy is completely inside, no outside seating, and we didn’t want to endanger any of our employees,” he says of the closing of the speakeasy beyond the year. “We thought we’d survive the storm.” When vaccines became available, Keefe said the owners tried to reopen, but by that point many employees had found other jobs or left the industry. “We only had one bartender,” he says. “We couldn’t find a cook. We had to work to very tight schedules and were very understaffed. If a single person called, we had to close. “
With 123 Speakeasy operating on a reservation-only system and on weekends only, the closure – a scenario that happened several times this fall – meant calling 100-200 people to inform them of the cancellation, and all potential ones Income for it was lost week. Between these challenges, an estimated 20-25 hours a week just trying to recruit, and rising labor and procurement costs, Keefe says the company’s business model “just stopped working”.
“We decided it was time to hopefully find someone else who might have a different business model or strategy,” he says. “It is turnkey and we would be happy if it was continued in any form. But the face of hospitality has changed radically in the last two years. So we can’t exactly expect what will happen next. “