Monday, January 10, 2000

The Ann Arbor News, Businesses work hard to get established

The Ann Arbor News
Businesses work hard to get established
By Pamela Appea

Clinton [Michigan.]—Clinton Inn owners Mark and Laurie Pedersen have some advice for those who are thinking of running a business: Don’t buy a nearly 100-year-old inn without thinking a lot of work, time and dedication are involved.

The classic entrepreneur’s dream of opening up a quaint bed and breakfast in the county with a cushy 40-hour work week is just that: a dream, they say. Even with Mark Pedersen’s years of experience in hotel management working at several Hiltons, the couple said being their own bosses in a smaller community like Clinton presents its own set of challenges.

One of the first challenges is how to get a few of the 12,000 daily drivers on the US-12 to stop and check out Clinton.

The Pedersens’ wish isn’t uncommon.

Marilyn T. Weaver, owner of the Wild Swan Shoppe, an eclectic gift and collectibles store, echoes the Pedersens in saying sometimes it feels like a challenge to get drivers to stop and park.

Weaver said she can’t afford to just carry specialty items in her shop. So she carries everything from stickers to Irish-related gifts and crafts to aromatherapy items.

Changing her window display every three weeks is a priority, Weaver said. “People have five seconds to look. I do have people come in—for the first time—who were driving cars by the store,” she said.

Locals come in to look at each new display and support her store by buying gift items, Weaver said. But since Clinton’s population is a little more than 2,500, Weaver said she appreciates the outside support.

Area business owners say it can be challenging to operate a shop or store in a small bedroom community like Clinton where many residents work outside the town and many business owners live elsewhere.

Carl Habrick, president of the Chamber of Commerce, said that many Clinton residents are used to driving to Toledo or Ann Arbor for clothes and big shopping trips.

Clinton could use some diversity in retail businesses, funneling some of the money back into the town, he said. Habrick, who co-owns The Clinton Local newspaper with wife Marianne, feels there is just the right number of eateries and antique and collectibles shops around.

What Clinton needs, Habrick said, are new and different retail busineses like a men’s clothing store and a shoe store. And Weave adds to the wish list of businesses: a hardware store, a bakery and a woman’s clothing store.

Weaver said it can take up to five years for a business to become established, and some potential business owners may feel the risk to too great to open up a business in a smaller community like Clinton.

Newcomers like Hubie’s Jerky and More show there is a market for other stores coming into town.

Tom Huber, owner of Hubie’s Jerky and More, said right now that business could be better. Huber said he hopes to see business improve in the spring and summer time as the weather warms up and more people will go out driving. The Manchester native said he sees a market for quality jerky, especially priced at a competitive level.

“I know it’s a very popular snack good. Everybody thought that, and I began selling it where I work, selling to where I golf. There weren’t any stores available (in Manchester.) My stepson heard about the opening in Clinton and I had two days to decide if I wanted it,” Huber said.

Huber’s store, which has been open for 16 months, sells 12 different varieties of jerky, including beef and turkey jerky, and flavors such as beef teriyaki jerky.

Habrick’s prognosis for Clinton merchants is optimistic. Armed with the support of the Clinton Chamber of Commerce members and the community, Habrick said the goal is to “get things going.”

“Clinton is a growing area and I don’t see a lot of turnover in business … People are taking a chance and finding it a good place to do business.”

Originally published in The Ann Arbor News.
Copyright 1999-2000