2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog that deals (at least for the last year or so) with the history of Clare County, Michigan. It’s one of three blogs I have. The others highlight things to see and do in Clare County and my random thoughts. They other two blogs can be reached from the navigation bar in my Clare History Blog.  Thanks for reading and commenting on my posts and I look forward to continuing in 2014. All my best for a wonderful and prosperous New Year.

Best regards,


Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,600 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Categories: Clare County, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Disruptive Technologies or ‘Looking for the Next Big Thing’

Motley Fool logoThis posting has nothing to do with history, Michigan or job hunting. Instead, it has to do with technology and finances. That means it’s totally different from my other postings. These are also topics in which I am not well versed. I can figure out how to work my DVD player and load new software on my computer and I do buy and sell stock (usually buying high and selling low) but otherwise I am, like many in my generation, technologically unsavvy.

I am posting this because I found the topic fascinating when I read it on a discussion board at The Motley Fool.com. Motley Fool is a investment site that seeks to help unsophisticated people (like me) make money (or in my case loss less), and the discussion boards allow people to interact.

This particular post summarized four key principles of disruptive innovation as talked about in a book called The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen. Although the discussion board I “borrowed” this from was talking about Netflix and its future, the principles discussed should be of interest to anyone interested in how companies invest in technology and where the next innovative idea (like the iPod) will come from. If you have read the book I would be interested in knowing your thoughts on whether it is worth reading and aimed at the techno unsavvy. Oh, and if you follow Netflix whether it’s a buy, sell or hold

P.S. I hope “Awesomestockdude” won’t hate me for posting the fruits of his labor.

1. Companies Depend on Customers and Investors for Resources

“In order to survive, companies must provide customers and investors with the products, services, and profits that they require. The highest performing companies, therefore, have well-developed systems for killing ideas that their customers don’t want. As a result, these companies find it very difficult to invest adequate resources in disruptive technologies — lower-margin opportunities that their customers don’t want — until their customers want them. And by then, it is too late.”

2. Small Markets Don’t Solve the Growth Needs of Large Companies

“To maintain their share prices and create internal opportunities for their employees, successful companies need to grow. It isn’t necessary that they increase their growth rates, but they must maintain them. And as they get larger, they need increasing amounts of new revenue just to maintain the same growth rate. Therefore, it becomes progressively more difficult for them to enter the newer, smaller markets that are destined to become large markets of the future. To maintain their growth rates, they must focus on large markets”

3. Markets That Don’t Exist Can’t Be Analyzed

“Sound market research and good planning followed by execution according to plan are the hallmarks of good management. But companies whose investment processes demand quantification of market size and financial returns before they can enter a market get paralyzed when faced with disruptive technologies because they demand data on markets that don’t yet exist.”

4. Technology Supply May Not Equal Market Demand

“Although disruptive technologies can initially be used only in small markets, they eventually become competitive in mainstream markets. This is because the pace of technological progress often exceeds the rate of improvement that mainstream customers want or can absorb. As a result, the products that are currently in the mainstream eventually will overshoot the performance that mainstream markets demand, while the disruptive technologies that under-perform relative to customer expectations in the mainstream market today may become directly competitive tomorrow. Once two or more products are offering adequate performance, customers will find other criteria for choosing. These criteria tend to move toward reliability, convenience, and price, all of which are areas in which the newer technologies often have advantages.”

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My Painted Turtles Hatched-Well Kinda

baby painted turtle in handWay back on June 25, I watched a painted turtle lay eggs on a sandy hill outside my window in Harrison, Michigan. I had never seen that happen before and I was enchanted and watched it from start to finish. I even took the female back down to my pond afterward so she wouldn’t have to walk all the way back. I wrote about it in the post soon afterward.

Then I waited. And waited some more. I knew it could take anywhere from 30-to-80 days for turtles to hatch (a lot depends on temps). Every once in awhile I checked the site but 30 days soon turned into 80, and early summer turned into late summer and still and nothing.

My cousin, who is a herpetologist (it’s good to have one of those in the family) told me at our family reunion on Labor Day to wait another couple of weeks and then dig up the nest and see what was there. She said that sometimes the female gets so scared when someone comes around while she’s laying eggs that she does not really lay them, just goes through the motion.

Five turtles So I waited. And waited some more. And then on Sept. 22, I grabbed my shovel and dug. Carefully, hoping I wouldn’t chop any  eggs– or turtles–in half should there be any. I was not even sure what I would find. And after about four shovelfuls of dirt I hit paydirt. Or should I say a squirming mass of turtles about six inches down in the warm sand. Five turtles to be exact. Well, maybe six but I was so excited I could have lost one when I scooped them up. They were about an inch in diameter and the spitting image of their mom. Although they seemed happy at first to see the sunlight and me, they soon did their turtle thing and pulled back into their shells. I placed them down in the grass, then on the concrete and then in the house on the kitchen floor and took a number of photos of them. And then…well, I was suddenly at a loss on what to do. Maybe I shouldn’t have dug them up after all. Maybe they were getting ready to hibernate. Maybe they were now as good as dead because I HAD dug them up. Maybe I had sealed their death warrant.

I tried to call my herpetologist cousin but she was not available. So I decided to just let them all go. After all, the water was still warm, the sun was still bright and at the very least they could get a bite to eat (assuming they knew how and what to eat) since I was plumb out of turtle food.

So I took them to the edge of the pond on my property and placed them on a stick one-by-one at the water’s edge. And, one by one, they came out of their shells, launched themselves into the water and set off swimming as though they had been doing it all their lives. And then they were gone.

It was very cool.

Categories: Clare County, ecology, Harrison, Home life, Uncategorized | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Lost on the Green Pine Lake Pathway

Green Pine Lake mapI got lost on the Green Pine Lakes Pathway in Clare County, Michigan. Twice. Heck, I got lost just trying to find the place.

Now getting lost is not a big deal for me. I can get lost on my way to the my bathroom. That’s why, when I go on a hike,  I generally go where there is a broad path and a well-marked trail. None of that “take the path least traveled” crap for me. Give me well-traveled anytime. And deserted. I hate to run into people when I walk, but that’s a different topic…

Anyway, my walk that day stated out well, well–it did once I found the right spot. My first attempt to find the pathway had taken me to the State Forest Camp ground at Mud Lake. It’s a pretty lake and nice campground and the Green Pine pathway does connect to the campground. However, the connector path is several miles long and several miles from where I wanted to be. Luckily, there was a nice map of the trail created as an Eagle Scout project. So, after reviewing the map I climbed back into my dirty Ford Freestyle and finally found the right parking lot on M-115, and within sight of Lake George Road. I parked I grabbed my camera, cursed myself for forgetting water and headed off down the trail  An identical map by the same Scout was located down the path so I oriented myself and began to walk the level path.

It’s a pretty trail and the first section was easy to navigate. Trees had blue paint and blue medal markers on them and since there was nobody around but me, I was having a grand time. Then I got to the second loop around Green Pine Lake and things started to go awry.  The trail narrowed and about the time I got to a couple off-kilter wooden bridges almost impassable due to vegetation, the markers had disappeared. That left me to flounder about in the dense woods. Although normally when I Obscured Bridgeflounder about in the woods I worry about my bleached bones being found years later, I wasn’t too worried in this case since the sun was out and I could navigate (somewhat) using that. I also had my cell phone with me.

Eventually, the missing blue paint was replaced by red paint and I followed that out to a dirt road and walked the road until it intersected with Lake George Rd. I walked Lake George Rd. for a while and when I figured I was parallel with the part of the Green Pine trail that would take me back to my car I headed cross-country to intersect it. Dumb move given my lack of navigational abilities and woodland skills.

Anyway, once back in the dense woods I mistook a couple of deer trails for the path, wandered/floundered through the remains of a lake bed, through some heavy brush, found evidence of some long-ago beavers and, after 30 minutes, ended up back on Lake George Rd. not far from where I had gone in. At that point, I threw in the towel and walked the road to my car and headed home without incident.

It was a good walk but I wouldn’t do it again and I wouldn’t advise anyone else to do that second loop around Green Pine Lake. I DO plan to go back in the near future and walk the first loop. I think I can do that one. Only this time I will take water, a compass and a map. One can only cheat death so many times.

Pike LakeJune 2012 Update: I received a comment from Mark who has a Hiking Michigan-North/Central Region blog. He walked the trail just recently and also posted an entry about his experience.

Categories: Clare County, Michigan, Travel and tourism, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

A Cross at the edge of the Woods

White cross on a tree at the edge of the woodsDavid Bruce Popovich died sometime early on Sept. 30, 1995 on Mostetler Road east of Harrison, Michigan. According to the Clare County Cleaver, Popovich was the sole occupant of  a pickup truck that went out of control at a curve on the gravel road and flipped over. Popovich, a self-employed auto mechanic, was 41. He left behind a son, Joshua, who lived in Pontiac, Michigan along with three brothers.

I never knew Mr. Popovich or had even heard of him until a month ago when I was riding my bicycle on Mostetler and spotted a two-foot high cross tied to a tree at a curve in the road at the edge of the woods. The cross was well made but its white paint it had peeled and the writing, what remained, was faded. However, the date of birth and date of death was visible along with the words “in Memory of” in neat lettering.

Something touched me about that faded cross. Maybe it’s the fact that it had been forgotten and I wondered whether Mr. Popovich had too been forgotten nearly 16 years after his passing.  Maybe it’s the fact he had moved up to Harrison from Metro Detroit leaving his family behind, something I too recently have done due to a pending divorce.

After visiting the Cleaver and learning about Mr. Popovich and the details of the crash, I wanted to do something about the condition of the cross so I went to the site, untied it from the tree and took it home. As I sanded it in preparation for repainting I found that someone had put a gold necklace with cross over the upright of the cross. I wondered who had created the cross and placed it on the site and who had put the necklace there and did they still think of David on occasion.

The cross has been repainted and  has is tied to the tree.  I added the wording that I saw on the cross when I first saw it along with the name of the person it honors, although the name may not have been there originally. Maybe others will see the cross, and maybe they will slow down at they approach the curve so no one else will suffer the fate of Mr. Popovich. But if nothing else, I hope it honors a man whose life  ended at the edge of the woods.

June 2018: I have repainted the cross for the 3rd time (last time was probably 2015) and reapplied the words. The wood making up the cross is getting pretty rotten and is soft in places. The cross doesn’t have many more years of life. The necklace is still there.  In addition, the property owners have cut a number of trees in the area but left the cross alone.  

August 2020: I reapplied the words to the cross that have faded over the last two years. Necklace still there. The cross is holding up but not sure how much longer.  Wonder what ever happened to the son…

Categories: Harrison, History, Life, Uncategorized | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Turtle Watching: Life in the Slow Lane

Face of a painted turtleThere are a number of advantages to living the life of a country squire–or that of an unemployed, soon-to-be divorced man living in the woods of mid-Michigan. One advantage is seeing a slice of life not available to those in the big city. An example is the painted turtle I spotted ambling across my yard Sunday, June 26 in search of a nesting site.

I have seen turtles on my property before (snappers for the most part), and have even seen turtles laying eggs, but until this recent Sunday I never had the opportunity or time to watch the entire process.

I spotted the turtle when I chanced to glance out the window while vacuuming a back bedroom. The turtle, about 6-inches long, was moving at a pretty good clip–maybe 30-feet per minute–across a sandy slope on my property about 50- yards from a pond where I presume the amphibian had emerged. As I watched, she moved in a zig-zag pattern, stopping every once in a while to dig for a few seconds with its front claws before moving on. Occasionally, she would even stay long enough in a spot to dig a shallow hole before deciding, for whatever reason, to move on.

The turtle was on high alert the entire time, sometimes stopping to raise her head high as if sniffing the air  or because she spotted some movement that might signal a predator.

Finally, after 15-minutes of searching, the turtle started to dig in an area of sand found between a few sparse patches of grass and a dandelion. She started with her front claws and switched to the back claws after getting a depression started. The turtle worked quickly tossing dirt hither and yon as she worked. This went on for another 10-minutes before she stopped Painted turtle laying eggsand lowered her backside into the hole and became relatively still.

Once the turtle started laying her eggs, I took my camera and walked out to her to take a photo. Her head turned to watch me with a look that almost seemed to be disapproval. I snapped a couple of photos and walked back inside. After a while, I became bored and went back to vacuuming, peering out the window periodically to see if she had moved.

After 45-minutes, the turtle began to move in earnest, kicking with her back legs but this time replacing the sand instead of ejecting it. I crept back outside and attempted to sneak up behind her, even going so far as to crawl on my belly to film the process. She spotted me right off (I make for a big target), and although she paused for a few moments she went back to burying the eggs as I filmed away.

When satisfied the job was complete and the eggs safe, she began to  amble in the direction of the pond. It was at that point I intervened and picked her up. I measured and  photographed her and even put the date on her bottom shell (plastron) using indelible marker before taking her to the pond and depositing her at its edge where she immediately dove into the water and disappeared.

I went back to the nesting site. The mother-to-be had done a great job or covering the burial site. In fact, had I not marked it when I picked her up to transport her to the pond, I would not have found it. However, the raccoons would have. And they seem to love turtle eggs because every year I find turtle eggshells scattered along the same slope this turtle used. (The above photo shows the remains of eggs along with a quarter used for scale.) To prevent the coons from getting to the eggs, I covered the site with a BBQ grate I will leave a for a couple of weeks, hoping by then the scent of turtle and eggs is gone and the site can remain inviolate until the turtles hatch. According to a couple of websites I reviewed that should happen in two- to three-months.

Ttime will tell whether the turtle will become a mother, although she will never know. Apparently what I saw is as far as the turtle maternal instinct goes. The babes will be on their own when they are born. Maybe I will be vacuuming and get to see them crawl forth. I hope so. That would be pretty cool. Maybe I can be turtle taxi and take them in the pond like I did with their mom.

Categories: ecology, Harrison, Home life, Life, Michigan, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Unexpected Highlights from a Cross-County Trip

I enjoy planning trips. I like to know where I’m going, what I am going to see and where I will stay. Most of the time that’s because I have a limited amount of time and what to use it to see and do the maximum amount of stuff. Except on my most recent cross-country trip. Although I did have a schedule I kept if flexible so I could make detours and slow my pace. As a result I was able to enjoy several experiences that I had not expected. Here are the top six in random order:

1) Oklahoma City National Memorial: I decided to make a stop in Oak City to see this site. I did not expect much but found it a wonderful and deeply moving. The reflecting pool down once what was a street; the chairs,visual reminders of those–adult and children–who lost their lives; the scarred buildings showing signs of the blast; and the Survivor Tree, a giant Elm that withstood the attack, help make up the memorial.

2) National Civil Rights Museum: Although the museum near downtown Memphis was closed by the time we arrived in early evening, the time of day made the site of shooting of Martin Luther King all that more moving. I never realized how close the rooming house where James Earl Ray was staying. I need to go back and visit the museum.

3) Field of Dreams movie site: I was driving through Iowa down Route 20 in my way to Galena, Illinois when I saw a sign near Dyersville, stating that the site of the 1989 movie was only three miles away. I had to go. I’ve always loved the movie, not as a baseball movie but because of the relationship aspect (even though I had a good relationship with my dad). It’s the only sports movie I believe men can get teary-eyed at, although outright crying is prohibited. Anyway, I got to stand on the field and sit in the bleachers. The site still attracts some 50,000 people a year a woman at the souvenir state said when asked, most of whom come in mid-summer when the corn is high. Sadly there wasn’t any corn when I was there in early May. Even sadder was the fact a school was playing KICKBALL on that sacred field.

4) Custer State Park: Located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, this huge (71,000 acre) park has much to offer including a free-ranging herd of bison, wonderful scenery and great drives. I spent only a few hours there, some of it surrounded by bison. One of the drives I made had a series of narrow tunnels carved through the granite. The drive might be a nightmare in mid-summer when tourists pack the roads but it was clear sailing in May when I was there.

5) Hot Springs National Park: I had heard about this park and city but it meant little to me. However, I was passing near the city so decided to stop in. What a fascinating place. Small city with huge hotels and spectacular bathhouses. I didn’t know much about the history of the bathhouses or just how popular (and important) these hot baths were and the number of visitors who would come to take in the waters. Now,tourists can still take a bath,  enjoy the amazing architecture, shops or walk the streets popping in and out of old bathhouses.

6) Red River Gorge Scenic Byway: This is a 42-mile drive in eastern Kentucky down narrow winding roads. You really need to two people on this trip: One to drive and one to enjoy the scenery. Luckily, there were few people the weekday morning I made this drive after spending the night in Natural Bridge State Park (another keeper).  The scenery in the Red River Gorge is gorgeous with numerous stone arches, sandstone cliffs, ravines and unusual geological formations. There are large number of “pull-offs and hiking trails.

The above all come highly recommended. Sadly, although I did allow myself time to see the site, both planned and unplanned, I did not always allow enough time. In many spots, I could have spent a week. I guess that just means I’ll have to return. Someday, once I get a job and money.

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Thoughts on a Cross-County Tour

Self portrait shadowI never figured I’d go camping again. When I figured this, I was in my early-50’s, married with a home in Livonia and a cabin nestled in the woods of mid-Michigan, so there was little reason for me to do so.

But then I also never figured I’d lose my job, get divorced and have surgery go awry, all in a short time and all of which left me lonely and depressed in said mid-Michigan cabin during a particularly cold, dark and wet spring.

That’s why I decided to go camping. More than that, to take an around the U.S. tour, a kind of a “bucket list” trip if you will. I had plenty of time since I didn’t have a job.  I also needed time to let my right eye heal since it was still swollen and 3/4 shut from surgery done in early March to remove some benign growths from inside the eye socket. Importantly, I needed to figure out what to do with my life and where I should do it. Finding a job in Michigan, even with a Master’s degree in Business is a tough challenge, especially given my age.

So on April 16, 2011, I set out on a trip with my ForMy trailer. It's called a Combi-Campd Freestyle and Combi-Camp trailer that would eventually cover 8,147 miles and 20 states over a period of 37 days. And it was wonderful.

I was  able to see and do things that many people never get to do because their  busy lives spent working or raising a family precludes them from going, or because  health issues or finances prevent it later on in life. May is a wonderful time to travel  because few people are on the roads. The sunbirds have left Florida and families are not yet hitting the highway in their campers and motorhomes. That allowed me to stay in campgrounds that were nearly empty and hike and bike trails in solitude.

Some of the trip I planned out in advance, like staying with friends and family (in North Dakota, Florida, Tennessee, Utah and Illinois),  and driving along the northern section of the Gulf of Mexico, visiting Chaco Canyon, the Black Hills, Badlands, Wall Drugs and the Corn Palace. One destination, Yellowstone, I sadly canceled because of snow and frigid temps there, but places I stumbled upon more than made up for what I lost by not seeing Old Faithful.

Here are my top five destinations I had planned to see and was glad I did.

Chaco Canyon Campground1) Chaco Canyon in  New Mexico. Thirty-seven miles of the highway, this secluded national park was once a hub of ceremony, trade, and administration for the prehistoric Four Corners area–unlike anything before or since. Camping is rustic and on the site of an ancient Indian cliff dwelling. Wandering the ruins in solitude is awe-inspiring. One of the trails, the Pueblo Alto, provides spectacular overlooks and access to ruins and many surprises (like shrimp beds 270 feet above the canyon floor). I had the trail to myself the entire 2.5 hours I walked it. And I even had cell phone service at the top of the mesa, although I am ashamed to say how I know that.

Bison and calf2) Black Hills in South Dakota. Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse monument, the town of Deadwood, Custer State Park and more. Just a beautiful place to visit with lots to see and do. It’s quite “touristy” but the natural beauty of the area makes it all worthwhile.

FLower in bloom3) Badlands in South Dakota. Although the Badlands cover more than just the National Park, I only was able to visit the park. I loved the stark beauty and colorful bands in the eroding rock and clay. There were even flowers blooming in the parched ground when I was there. Oh and I saw my first Big Horned Sheep.  I walked the Notch trail, one of several in the park, which climbs through the landscape and uses a rope ladder to help reach the top. Good hike.

Fox on a big rock hunting for breakfast4) Zion National Park in Utah. My brother lives near there and I’ve been to Zion several times. I always find something new both inside and outside of the park. This time I biked through a portion of the park along the Virgin River, something I’d never done before (and passed a fox atop a large rock waiting to find breakfast) and found another huge rock with petroglyphs right near the park entrance. And, as usual, my brother and I looked for potsherds and arrowheads on some private land we have access to. Oh, and my sister-in-law is also the owner operator of the Doggy Dude Ranch outside of Zion. DDD boards pets so their owners can visit the park. And although I may be a bit biased, they are very caring people and pets are in good hands there.

Florida Sunset5) Siesta Key in Florida. My aunt has a condo on the Key and has asked me to visit numerous times. Finally, had the chance to take her up on her offer. Walked the sands, basked in the warmth of the sun, attended an Easter sunrise service on the beach and enjoyed the company of two wonderful people.

I never did figure out what to do with my life. But I’ve got some great memories as a result. And a high Visa bill. I took the trip when gas was averaging $3.85 a gallon and 8,147 miles translates into a LOT of gas.

As for the places I saw that I had not planned. Well, those are the subject of my next blog.

Categories: ecology, Life, Travel and tourism, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Doggy Dude Ranch Fills a Niche

Zion National Park canyonZion National Park is Utah’s most popular park welcoming more than 2 million visitors a year. And with good reason. The park is filled with beautiful canyons and colorful rock formations, and has trails for people of all abilities. There also is an historic lodge within its boundaries.

Many visitors bring their pets with them on their vacations. However, Zion, like many national parks, is not pet friendly. Pets are not allowed on Zion’s trails or are they to be left unattended in campgrounds, as summers in Zion are brutal with temperatures easily exceeding 100 degrees. Those temps mean pets cannot be left alone in cars–even for a few minutes–while their owners enjoy Zion’s beauty.

Filomena, owner of the Doggy Dude Ranch walks one of the dogs in her care.And that is where the Doggy Dude Ranch comes into the picture. Located just 3.7 miles outside of Zion,  on Highway 9 between Rockville and Springdale, the ranch fills a niche for travelers who want to see Zion but need someone to care for their animals while they do it.

Filomena Diaz-Johnson (pictured at left) has owned and operated the Doggy Dude Ranch since 1990 when she spotted a need for animal careand filled it. Since that time, Filly as she is called and the Doggy Dude Ranch have boarded dogs, cats, horses and has even a camel on its 10-acres of land along side the Virgin River. The ranch has a large–and largely shaded–outdoor kennel and an inside air-conditioned facility for animals Aerial view of Doggy Dude Ranchthat may not like the heat. There is also a large play area (with pools) and animals are given a chance to play and to socialize  with others  (if they are play well with others, that is). A staff member is always on site day or night. Owners can have their pets bathed if they so choose. Filly even offers pet training for those who have problem pets or want to prevent problems.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must state that Filly is my sister-in-law and married to my brother Stephen pictured with her in the photo at right. Filly and her husband Stephen in front of their signThat said, I find her a remarkable woman and one in tune with animals, especially dogs. One could call her a dog whisperer, although it’s not a term she herself uses. She just loves animals and even boards rescue dogs and works to find them homes.

Filly has turned her passion for animals into a thriving business and all because she was able to recognize a need and fill it. It’s a recipe for success and I am happy for her and proud of her. We all should be so lucky.

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Cops, Doughnuts, a Small Town, a Growing Tourist Draw

Cops and Doughnuts storefrontPeanut butter and jelly, ying and yang, orange juice and breakfast. They go together like, well like Cops and Doughnuts. No, not the stereotype connection of police officers snacking on the fried snack, but the real thing: The Cops and Doughnuts bakery in Clare, Michigan. The particular bakery has good coffee, a wide assortment of tasty baked goods, clever bakery related merchandise, a strong connection to the community and a great story to tell that all began a couple of years ago on the back of a pizza box.

In 2009, the only bakery in Clare, established in 1896, was in danger of closing. That’s when the nine full-time members of the city’s Police Department banded together to save it. They drafted a business plan of sorts on the back of a pizza box, pooled their resources and purchased the bakery housed in an historic building on the city’s main street. They then set to hiring additional staff and broadened the offerings. The place took off—and not because the bakery’s owners were its own best customers. Locals were glad to still have the bakery. Plus, it was a clever concept and the police officers added to it by installing displays of police related items like badges and photos. The bakery’s opening received press coverage all over the state, which helped contribute to its early success.

The bakery itself was small, with barely room for the counter and a few tables, so when a store next door became available, the bakery expanded into the building, adding even more tables, free Wi-Fi, merchandise including t-shirts, coffee mugs, bumper stickers and even Cops and Doughnuts branded coffees produced by Paramount Coffee of Lansing, MI. Their coffee is sold in stores in five states. The merchandise sports clever statements like “Don’t glaze me, bro,” “Fighting Crime One Doughnuts at a Time and D.W.I. Doughnuts Were Involved. The merchandise is also being sold online at copsdoughnuts.com. While some of the merchandise sports a photo of the nine owners in uniform, all of it mentions the bakery’s location n Clare.

And Clare, Michigan can use the promotion. A town of slightly more than 3,000, it was once a vibrant lumbering town in the late-1800s as trains and wagons brought men and machinery to harvest the giant white pine that grew in the surrounding county.  The money those pines represented then brought retailers, bar owners and other to the area. However, once the trees were gone, the lumbermen moved onto greener pastures, Clare became a sleepy town relying on agriculture and tourism. The city is home to a number of nice shops and boutiques but many are struggling because they lack the number of shoppers needed to survive, much less prosper.

The bakery is helping to grow tourism. While not quite yet “world famous” as some of the bakery’s ads state, people are coming to Clare to visit the bakery.  In fact, the bakery was recently recognized as one of 2011’s “Michigan 50 Companies to Watch” by the Edward Lowe Foundation and presented the Michigan Celebrates Small Business. McEwen, Clare’s main street, was recently one of five main streets in Michigan chosen to receive branding services from the Michigan Main Street Center at Michigan State Housing Development Authority. Among the services were be help in developing a brand to help distinguish main street along with a new logo and a new website.

Cops and Doughnuts is a great example of a community coming together to save a community asset and then taking advantage of branding opportunities to market and grow a business. Whether the police officers knew what they were doing when they developed their initial plan or not, they have done a great job of promoting their business and getting others to help them do so.

The Cops and Doughnuts doughnut logo

The other day I was sitting in the bakery using its free Wi-Fi and overheard one of the owners talking about the fact the bakery’s sign out front sports pink glaze on the doughnut.

According to the conversation, a young girl came into the bakery along with her parents not long after the place reopened. When asked what kind of doughnut she wanted, the girl responded that she had hoped for one with “pink frosting and sprinkles,” but didn’t see a doughnut like that among all the other doughnuts in the display case.

The woman behind the counter told the girl conspiratorially, “We knew you were coming and didn’t want anyone else to buy it so I kept the doughnut with the pink frosting in the back. Wait here.” She then headed into the back.

The owner, who was telling the story, said he followed the woman to see what she was up to because he knew the bakery didn’t have pink frosting. He watched the woman take the red and white frosting they did have, mix them together, smear the resulting frosting on a doughnut, add some sprinkles and head back to the front where she presented the doughnut to the little girl who was amazed to have gotten the doughnut with  pink frosting she was craving.

“I tell that story to all our new employees as an example of the customer service we give here at our bakery,” the owner said, adding that when the bakery’s logo designer asked what color frosting the bakery owners wanted on its sign on the bakery  everyone was in agreement color should be pink, as a reminder of the little girl and the bakery’s commitment to service.

It’s a great story in a bakery with a great doughnuts and a great future. And, as its website states, with cops as owners the bakery is easily one of the safest places around.

Categories: Economy, General, History, Michigan, Travel and tourism, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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