The tourist season is back, and it’s kicked off with a big upswing in business over Memorial Day weekend.
For many businesses in northern Michigan, the holiday weekend marks the unofficial start of summer. Alden Outfitters manager Jennifer King says: “A memorable weekend is the start of our entire season. Being a seasonal business, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, this is our main travel season.”
Whether it’s traffic on the road, on the water, or foot traffic in stores and restaurants, traffic means doing business in northern Michigan. Tony Smedra of Torch Lake Beer Company says the weekend was “very, very busy. More busy than expected. So we are looking forward to the season. It should be good.”
In County Antrim, Torch Lake is a major visitor attraction and the village of Alden saw quite a buzz this weekend. King says Alden is “one of those hidden gems.” As one of the many locations along Torch Lake and as a shortcut for some people traveling from Traverse City to Bellaire, Alden is ideal for summer tourism. And local businesses say they are ready to make the most of it.
“This is one of those few towns where you can park anywhere. You can walk in a small lane and go from store to store. Eat, drink wine. Go shopping,” King says. Smedra adds: “Everyone has families here and everyone is having a good time. It’s Fakel Lake and the sandbar, so it’s always good here.”
King says it’s good to see traffic recovering after slowing down due to the pandemic and off-season. “It’s nice to have you working so hard these spring weeks trying to clean up stores, stack them up and open them. As in years past, getting the goods this year was a bit of a gimmick. To have a product, to really be open, to work during business hours. It’s great to see people and see people travel.
Smedra says business in the next few months will depend a lot on cooperation with Mother Nature. “It all depends on the weather on Fakel. When people board their boats from the sandbar, the wheels are just starting to turn. It will get busier.” King agrees. “I hope the weather will help and it will be a wonderful season. When you’re on a lake like this, there’s nothing to complain about.”