Hobbies, Toys & Games

Seeking Michigan: From Signage to Santa

Seeking MichiganBy Mary Zimmeth, Archives of Michigan and courtesy Seeking Michigan and the Archives of Michigan. The goal of Seeking Michigan is simple: to connect you to the stories of this great state. Visit them regularly for a dynamic & evolving look at Michigan’s cultural heritage and see more stories from Seeking Michigan at Absolute Michigan.

25 Christmas Lane on a winter’s eve, circa 2010 (Photo courtesy of Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland)

My favorite holiday movie is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989). Clark Griswold, (Chevy Chase), our hero, has a plan for the traditional Griswold family Christmas that includes fifty thousand twinkling outdoor lights on the roof. When Clark drags his entire family out to see his masterpiece, the lights don’t work. The frustrating, yet entertaining, effort to fix the problem resonates with me (This includes Clark on the roof checking each individual bulb.). My favorite part comes when Clark prevails, the family is impressed, and he thanks his father for teaching him about exterior illumination.


Wallace Bronner (1927-2008) knew that exterior illumination is essential for the holidays. We are all familiar with his enormous enterprise: Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland, located on 25 Christmas Lane in Frankenmuth. Initially, this behemoth of holiday cheer started as a signage business. During the early forties, Wally worked as a sign painter and a clerk at the Hubinger Grocery Store, which was owned by his maternal relatives. Part of his job included designing window displays. In 1945, as Frankenmuth celebrated its centennial year, Bronner Display and Sign Advertising was in demand for painting signs and decorating store windows and parade floats. That year Wallace Bronner met Irene Ruth Pretzer, the woman he would marry on June 23, 1951 at St. Peter Lutheran Church in Hemlock, Michigan.

Signs designed by Wally Bronner for the city of Clare, 1951 (Photo courtesy of Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland.).

Irene was instrumental in helping Wally land a monthly window display contract with the Jennison Hardware Company of Bay City (c. 1947) (Irene had attended Bay City Junior College and boarded at the home of G.W. Cooke, president of the hardware company.). Bronner’s work for the hardware company resulted in a referral to the town of Clare, Michigan (1951). This first municipal holiday commission was to design decorative lamppost panels. After that job, Wally hired his friend Fred Bernthal to look for new clients in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Ontario.

Bronner also entered into contracts with General Plastics Corporation (Marion, Indiana) and Mold-Craft Corporation (Port Washington, Wisconsin). These companies provided street trims and ornaments, latex Santas, reindeers and nativity scenes. In 1952, Bronner staged two shows exhibiting outdoor Christmas decorations, one in the Frankenmuth Township Hall, the other at the St. Lorenz School gymnasium. Both were successful. However, both venues were temporary. Bronner decided to rent a more permanent building, a vacated one-room schoolhouse (formerly Frankenmuth School District Number 1). Thus, year round exhibit of Christmas decorations became possible! “At first the people of the community thought the idea to be rather unusual, but accepted it fully when Frankenmuth became known as the Christmas Town.” (Bronner’s 2005 Corporate History, page 35.)

“Thinking Big”

Wally Bronner with employees. (Photo taken in the 1960s. Photo is courtesy Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland)

Herman Bronner (Wally’s father) was a building contractor and stone mason. He convinced his son to “think big” by changing the plans for the first Bronner-owned building from two, L-shaped, rectangular buildings to one large, square building. The Bronner’s store at 121 East Tuscola (a lot adjoining Aunt Hattie’s grocery store) opened in 1954. It was divided into two sections, one space for the sign painting business, the other for Christmas decorations.

Wally was grateful for his dad’s vision and business acumen. The municipal clientele grew to include shopping centers and commercial interiors. As buyers selected decorations for their stores and churches, their wives requested home decorations. From 1954 to 1963, Bronner exhibited at the Saginaw County Fair, which, at the time, boasted numbers of three hundred thousand people. By 1960, the company was officially incorporated, and home decorations were added to the product line. In 1964, the first billboard advertising Bronners appeared on I-75, ten miles south of Exit 136 (Frankenmuth). Many travelling up North are familiar with that sign. Subsequent ones (more than sixty located in seven states) continue to extol the importance of holiday cheer and illumination.

Source material

Picturesque Story of Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, as related by Wally Bronner. Published by Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, 2005.

The History of Bronner’s Christmas Decorations by Doris A Paul. Published by the Frankenmuth Historical Museum, 1981.

Brad Redford, a native of Frankenmuth visited Bronner’s last year and has a pretty funny video in his show Redford’s Rundown. However, we’re going to have to go with this awesome music video of Wally Bronner (Christmas Always) by Michigan rockers The Hard Lessons. A little tip: click that link and subscribe to their email list to download their entire new album Arms Forest AND stay tuned at the end of the video for the B-side of this song, O Holy Night!

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    Megatron, Megastar, Madden NFL 13: Detroit Lions Superstar picked for video game cover

Megatron, Megastar, Madden NFL 13: Detroit Lions Superstar picked for video game cover

ESPN (and every other sports outlet in the country) reports that Calvin “Megatron” Johnson has landed the coveted cover of “Madden NFL 13.”:

The Detroit Lions wideout beat out second-year Panthers quarterback Cam Newton for the honor. The vote was announced Wednesday afternoon on “SportsNation” on ESPN2.

Johnson, who won by garnering 52 percent of the more than 651,000 votes cast in the competition, said he was “shocked” by the decision.

“Man, it’s great,” a smiling Johnson said. “Just to see yourself on this Madden (cover) and seeing all the guys that have been on Madden? C’mon, man.”

…Johnson is coming off a spectacular season in which he caught 96 passes for a league-best 1,681 yards and 16 touchdowns. He became the third player in NFL history with at least 95 receptions, 1,600 yards and 15 touchdowns in a season, joining Jerry Rice and Randy Moss.

The Lions, who made the playoffs last season for the first time in a dozen years, rewarded the former No. 2 overall pick with an eight-year deal worth up to $132 million dollars in March.

While the video game is tremendously popular (selling 1.2 million copies in 2011) it is also purportedly haunted by the Madden Curse, with nearly every superstar who lands the cover having a shattered career following the selection. Richard Langford at the Bleacher Report suggests that Johnson’s freakish size, speed and health will prove tougher than the curse – here’s hoping that we’ll see many more highlights from Megatron.

Here’s Calvin Johnson’s NFL page, his page on the Detroit Lions website, his Wikipedia entry and his Twitter at bigplayCJ. You can see the science behind Calvin’s freakish abilities from Sports Science and watch the ESPN award show below.

Michigan 175: Yooper Steez Skateboard Deck

One of the items in our Michigan’s 175th Birthday Bash giveaway (#mich175) is a skateboard deck from Absolute Michigan sponsor Yooper Steez.

Yooper Steez isn’t a skateboard company, but has always drawn inspiration from the skateboarding and snowboarding culture. This is just one product (of many more to come) that offers a way for Yoopers to show their love for the Upper Peninsula. Lumberjack Jack wears wool plaid shirts, spends lots of time in the woods, has one mean looking beard, loves the UP and represents the Yooper in all of us!

All decks are seven-ply quality maple, and you can choose from either Lumberjack Jack or the Steez deck (trucks and hardware sold separately).

Seeking Michigan: The Magic of Lionel Trains

Seeking MichiganBy Steve Ostrander, Michigan Historical Museum and courtesy Seeking Michigan and the Archives of Michigan. The goal of Seeking Michigan is simple: to connect you to the stories of this great state. Visit them regularly for a dynamic & evolving look at Michigan’s cultural heritage and see more stories from Seeking Michigan at Absolute Michigan.

“King of the Toy Train World”

For more than one hundred years, Lionel trains have been a favorite toy. Originally founded in New York City in 1900 by inventor Joshua Lionel Cowen, the company now resides in Michigan.

This photo dates from about the early 1930s. The train is identified as a Lionel - based on comparisons of the switches, signal, trucks, track gauges, etc. with contemporary Lionel catalogs.

Cowen designed his first train, the Electric Express, not as a toy but as a display for selling toys. Demand soon turned the train into a toy.

It was at this time that Cowen’s superior marketing abilities made their impact. Cowen is responsible for linking toy trains to the Christmas season. It was Cowen’s idea to include toy trains as part of crèche displays. Later, incredible showroom and department store displays would leave every young boy wanting toy trains for Christmas, and toy trains remain popular Christmas gifts today. Colorful annual catalogs also enticed buyers.

By the 1920s, Lionel was the king of the toy train world. It was during this period that Lionel produced some of their most beautiful trains. The locomotives and rolling stock were highly detailed.

Lionel ceased toy production during World War II and manufactured items for national defense.

“A Real Estate Developer Who Loved Toy Trains”

In 1971, Lionel moved to Mt. Clemens, Michigan, but the company experienced hard times. In 1986, Richard P. Kughn, a real estate developer in Detroit who loved toy trains from the time he was seven years old, bought Lionel Trains. The sales and quality of the trains improved dramatically.

Kughn once talked about his passion for toy trains. “I was walking home from school on trash day. There was a trash barrel out in front of a house with a train sticking out on top. I didn’t know much about trains or toy trains at the time, but it intrigued me so I pulled all the pieces out, including the tracks and the transformer. I took it home, and my dad helped me clean it up. We worked on it and put it on the ping-pong table in the basement, and it ran.”

Kughn said “If you’re happy in what you’re doing, in creating, putting things together, watching things happen in front of your eyes because of your efforts, it makes you smile. . .and time goes by rapidly when you play with toy trains—that’s happiness.”

In 1995, Kughn sold the company. Today, it is located in Chesterfield, Michigan.

Seeking Michigan would like to thank the following for consultation on the photo above:

Peter Magoun, Trains and Things Hobbies, Traverse City, Michigan
Mark Cowles, Lansing Area N-Trak Model Railroad Club
Various members of the National Model Railroad Association

You can click to visit Lionel Trains, and here’s a blast from the past – The Wonderful World of Trains from Lionel Trains.

Seeking Michigan: “Boy, That’s a Daisy!”

Seeking MichiganSeeking Michigan was established to connect you to the stories of our great state. The name is derived from the state motto: Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.” Visit them regularly for a dynamic & evolving look at Michigan’s cultural heritage.

By Steve Ostrander, Michigan Historical Museum

Michigan Historical Museum staff member Steve Ostrander holds a Daisy rifle, with attached bayonet

Michigan Historical Museum staff member Steve Ostrander holds a Daisy rifle, with attached bayonet

Daisy Outdoor Products is the world’s oldest and largest manufacturer of air guns and accessories.

Daisy had its beginnings in 1882 as Plymouth Iron Windmill Company, a manufacturer of windmills in Plymouth, Michigan. By the late 1880s the windmill business was changing, and the company began looking for new products to sell.

In 1886, Plymouth inventor Clarence Hamilton introduced a new idea to the windmill company. It was a gun that could fire a lead ball using compressed air. Lewis Cass Hough, then president of the firm, gave it a try. After his first shot, he enthusiastically exclaimed, “Boy, that’s a daisy!”

The name stuck and the BB gun went into production as a premium item given to farmers when they purchased a windmill. The gun was such a huge success that Plymouth Iron Windmill soon began manufacturing the Daisy BB gun in place of windmills. On January 26, 1895 the company’s board of directors voted to change the name to Daisy Manufacturing Company, Inc.

The sturdy little BB guns quickly became a staple with American youth. One gun, more than any other, played a major role in making Daisy the household name it is today. Introduced in 1939, the Daisy Red Ryder has sold over 9 million units, easily making it the most famous BB gun ever built!

In 1958, Daisy moved their corporate offices and manufacturing facilities from Plymouth to Rogers, Arkansas.

Here’s the Daisy web site where they have a 70th anniversary Red Ryder for sale

Toy soldiers, sleds, model cars and games of all kinds are the focus of the Batteries Not Included Toy Exhibit featuring toys that were either manufactured in Michigan or donated by Michigan residents. It’s at the Michigan Historical Museum until March 2011. For more information, visit the Michigan Historical Museum Facebook page.

Seeking Michigan: Michigan Toy Story

Seeking MichiganSeeking Michigan was established to connect you to the stories of our great state. The name is derived from the state motto: Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.” Visit them regularly for a dynamic & evolving look at Michigan’s cultural heritage.

By Steve Ostrander, Michigan Historical Museum

This toy, made in the 1930s or early 1940s by WPA workers, depicts two Civil War soldiers. Photo by David Kenyon, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

This toy, made in the 1930s or early 1940s by WPA workers, depicts two Civil War soldiers. Photo by David Kenyon, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

Toy soldiers, sleds, model cars and games of all kinds are the focus of the new “Batteries Not Included” toy exhibit. The exhibit spotlights toys that were either manufactured in Michigan or donated by Michigan residents. In the article below, Steve Ostrander of the Michigan Historical Museum spotlights a few of these toys. Come to the exhibit to see many more! The exhibit is scheduled to run until March at the Michigan Historical Museum in Lansing. For more information, click Batteries Not Included Toy Exhibit or visit the Michigan Historical Museum Facebook page.

WPA Michigan Museums Project Toy Soldiers

The New Deal agency known as the WPA (originally, the Works Progress Administration; then changed to the Work Projects Administration) employed artists and craftsmen to construct hundreds of models of America’s past heritage. These models included pioneer dwellings, furniture, tools and implements. They also created a series of dioramas that illustrated farm activities, pioneer activities and building interiors. These models and dioramas were used in museum displays and visual aides in schools. They were intended to educate students, including many immigrant children who were in the process of learning the English language and American history and customs.

Lucky Lindy toys

Two Toy Lindbergh Planes. Photo by David Kenyon, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

Two Toy Lindbergh Planes. Photo by David Kenyon, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

Charles Augustus Lindbergh was born February 4, 1902 in Detroit. He made the first solo airplane flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927, piloting The Spirit of St. Louis. He landed in Paris to a hero’s welcome and permanent international fame. During 1939 and 1940, Lindbergh was a vocal opponent of American entry into World War II. However, after the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, he joined the war effort, eventually flying fifty combat missions in the Pacific.

Kellogg’s Wheel of Knowledge

On February 19, 1906, Will Keith Kellogg incorporated the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flakes Company, later called the W.K. Kellogg Company.

To increase sales, Kellogg’s began offering premiums (or “prizes”) to Toasted Corn Flakes buyers beginning in 1909. Their first premium, the Funny Jungleland Moving Pictures Booklet, was available to anyone who bought two boxes of the cereal. This same premium was offered for twenty-two years.

In the early 1930s, Kellogg’s offered this “Wheel of Knowledge” as a premium in All-Bran, Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies and PEP cereal. Rotating the wheel gave the user vital statistics about the forty-eight states, while the reverse side informed the reader about Kellogg’s cereals.

Kellogg's Wheel of Knowledge, 1932Kellogg’s Wheel of Knowledge, 1932

East Lansing Art Festival & MSU Arts and Crafts Show, May 22 & 23

artfestposterEstablished in 1964, the East Lansing Art Festival is held every spring during the weekend prior to the Memorial Holiday weekend. Known for featuring the highest caliber fine art and fine craft, this highly anticipated Festival attracts 70,000-80,000 attendees from across the region. Through the jury process approximately 230 artists from across the United States and Canada are invited to exhibit each year. Jurors also invite emerging artists to participate through a competitive selection process. Emerging artists must be affiliated with an institution of higher education within the last 2-3 years.

East Lansing is a charming University town with a wide variety of shops, restaurants, galleries and the beautiful Michigan State University campus across the street. The East Lansing Art Festival is produced by the Art Festival Board of Directors under the auspices of the East Lansing Arts Commission/City of East Lansing.

The East Lansing Art Festival is held the weekend preceding Memorial Day weekend. The festival operates 10am-6pm on Saturday and 10am-5pm on Sunday.

Michigan State University Arts and Crafts Show

msu arts & craftsCelebrate spring at the Michigan State University Arts and Crafts Show on May 22nd & 23rd, 2010. In its 46th year, the show has more than 325 artists from across the nation and offers something for everyone.

The MSU Arts and Crafts Show is one of the largest arts and crafts shows in the state. This year’s show includes many returning favorites as well as brand new artists. There will be a broad range of exhibitors selling handmade items. Items include; candles, furniture, jewelry, home and yard décor, aromatherapy, clothing, children’s toys, painting, photography, pottery, sculpture and much more.

The Arts and Crafts Show is held outside on the grounds of the MSU Union. This show is held on Saturday and Sunday with over 300 exhibitors displaying items in a park-like setting on the MSU campus. Most exhibitors utilize portable structures for their displays. The UAB office can provide current booth fee prices. The East Lansing Art Festival is staged one block north of campus with over 225 exhibitors. More than 60,000 people annually attend these two outdoor shows.

The show takes place on the grounds of the MSU Union, near the corner of Grand River Ave. and Abbot Rd. in East Lansing. The show hours are Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission to the show is FREE!

Cyber Monday and Holiday Deals in Michigan

Screen Head by Chancellor Monnette
Screen Head by Chancellor Monnette

AnnArbor.com has a look at Cyber Monday that notes that online sales are expected to increase slightly in 2009, but that an overall dip in holiday spending may make it a wash.

Price remains the driving factor for most consumers as the national unemployment rate hovers at 10.2 percent and Michigan’s unemployment rate is 15.1 percent. For many major retailers, this means that offering free shipping is a necessity, said Larry Freed, CEO of Ann Arbor-based ForeSee Results, an online customer satisfaction firm.

“Discounts are going to be big, and free shipping’s a part of it, no doubt,” Freed said. “It’s almost a cost of entry at this point.”

Let us know in the comments if you’ve found any good online deals from Michigan retailers and check out Absolute Michigan’s Shopping section for links to thousands of online stores in Michigan!

2009 Absolute Michigan Holiday Gift Guide

Photo by Cherie S.
Photo by Cherie S.

Think Globally, Shop Locally with our Michigan Holiday Gift Guide, designed to help you find the perfect Michigan gifts online or off. Feel free to add your Michigan based gift suggestions in the comments section below!

The photo in this post was taken by Cherie S. and is titled “Don’t worry about the past, rejoice in the present and have hope for the future.” Words to live by….

Art, Books & Music
Fire Center Studio
– Ishpeming, MI
Savu has owned Fire Center Studio in Ishpeming, Michigan since 1987. While her painting and illustration is done out of her studio, her work sells in galleries and gift stores throughout northern Michigan and the midwest. Her primary gallery retailer is Michigamme Moonshine Gallery in Michigamme, Michigan. Savu’s ‘Colours of Home’ annual collectible calendar series is available at bookstores and gift shops throughout the midwest as well as on website.

Mackerel Sky Gallery of Contemporary Craft – East Lansing
Mackerel Sky Gallery of Contemporary Craft, a gallery of fine craft located in East Lansing, Michigan. Owners Tom and Linda Dufelmeier created a format for the Gallery that includes an exhibit space featuring individual artists in shows that last for approximately two months. The works of art are presented in a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere allowing people from all backgrounds an opportunity to experience thought-provoking imagery by a single artist. The larger portion of the Gallery includes an eclectic selection of paper products, blown glass, jewelry, fiber, ceramics, garden accessories, fine woodworking, furniture, and lighting chosen for excellence in design and function.

Brian Vander Ark Music – Grand Rapids, MI
The lead singer of the Verve Pipe and author of the hit song “The Freshmen”, Brian has just released his debut solo CD “Resurrection”.

Fork in the Road by Eric Villegas
The new cookbook Fork in the Road with Eric Villegas (Huron River Press) is a companion to Chef Eric’s award-winning national PBS cooking show of the same title. The 192-page, hard cover, book is filled with gorgeous food & other photography that sweeps you across the magical mitten, the great state of Michigan. From north to south and east to west Chef Villegas covers the great agricultural heritage of the state in his sumptuous recipes.

Pewabic Pottery – Detroit, MI
Pewabic Pottery is a living treasure and offers visitors an exciting glimpse of a little known part of American history. Founded in 1903 during the Arts & Crafts Movement, Pewabic is nationally renowned for its tile and pottery in unique glazes. Today it is a non profit ceramic art education center which welcomes 70,000 visitors annually.

Ducksicle – Detroit, MI
Detroit’s only Chilled Poultry Rock quartet starring Tony, Helmut, Erica and the fantastischen Erik Jensen.

Elderly Instruments – Lansing, MI
The best music is the kind you make yourself and Michigan’s largest instrument seller has a wide range of instruments and accessories for the accomplished or novice musician.

Heritage Guitar Inc. – Kalamazoo, MI
Heritage manufacturers Custom Carved Hollow Body Guitars, Semi Hollow Body Guitars, and Solid Body Guitars. This is to say nothing of the countless number of custom instruments made in each of the groups previously mentioned. Banjos, Mandolins, Flat Tops, and Basses, are no longer being produced because of the demand for the guitars mentioned in the above 3 categories.

From the Vine – Exploring Michigan Wineries
Get the only book that celebrates Michigan wine country, wines and winemakers with intriguing behind-the-scene stories, beautiful photographs and interesting side features (192 page, hard-cover book).

Harry Goldson – Suttons Bay, MI
Harry says that music is now more fun than ever, because now he is playing what he wants to play in a way he thinks it should sound, and what a sound it is! Harry’s eighth album Flirtations is now available.

Earthwork Music
The Earthwork Music collective believes in the intrinsic and historical power of music to raise both community and self-awareness and serves to facilitate and encourage original music in the state of Michigan and beyond. Give Michigan music!

Glenn Wolff Studio – Traverse City, MI
Welcome to the Glenn Wolff Studio Store. The shelves are stocked with prints, original art, and music by Glenn and a few friends. Come on in and look around. We never close, and we are offering free shipping for the month of December.

Log Art Inc – Boyne City, MI
Welcome to Log Art Inc.’s Gallery which features samples of our line of fine-crafted rustic furniture and accessories. This sampling will give you a sense of the impeccable quality and craftsmanship that have come to be our trademark, “Lodge Look of Northern Michigan.” Our design and building skills are of heirloom quality and the finest made in Michigan. We welcome custom orders and enjoy working with our clients to help build their dreams.

The Art of Karen M Smith – Lapeer, MI
Original paintings are available on this website, and listed for auction on Ebay. Many paintings available at Gallery 194 in downtown Lapeer.

Michigan History Magazine – Lansing, MI
Published since 1917, Michigan History is about and a part of Michigan’s fascinating past. Every colorful 64-page issue tells the exciting stories of Michigan people and their impact on their communities, the nation and the world. Michigan History overflows with intriguing feature articles, bold illustrations and departments highlighting history-related books, travel and events six time each year.

Hollander’s – Ann Arbor, MI
Since 1991, when the store first opened, Hollander’s has become one of the leading and largest sources in the country for unique decorative papers and bookbinding supplies. It is also well known for its outstanding offerings in book and paper arts workshops. In addition, Hollander’s has grown as a retail store, specializing in stationery items ranging from journals and photo albums to cards and unique gifts.

Nature’s Way Woodworking – Alberta, MI
We design beautiful furniture and gifts made with rare birdseye maple wood. Our fine hand crafted items are locally made in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, by our very own wood turning and wood designer expert: Dave Stimac. One look at our quality wooden gifts and accessories will bring you back again and again to see what’s new in our latest line of weather instruments, barometers, clocks, dining room sets and kitchen items. Each item is a one-of-a kind work of art that you and your family will cherish for years to come.

Clothing & Jewelry
Yooper Steez – Marquette, MI
Steez: Style with ease! We believe everyone who lives in the U.P., or loves the U.P., should have a cool U.P. t-shirt. The way we see it, it doesn’t need words. Take the Nike logo for example, they don’t have “Just do it” under the swoosh. And the U.P. is the same. It has enough presence to stand on it’s own. In our opinion we expect people to recognize it, we shouldn’t have to tell them, they should know!

Aurora Borealis Designs – Leland, MI
Aurora Borealis Designs of Leland, Michigan hand crafts unique jewelry from beach glass, beach stones and silver.

Kathy Fagan Handbags – Okemos, MI
Welcome to Kathy Fagan Handbags—chic and charming bags for every occasion. Individually designed and handcrafted, each handbag exudes elegance and a touch of cheeky charm. Indulge in the chillier seasons’ most crucial and decadent accessory, the fur handbag. Made from vintage and new fur pieces, each bag is one-of-a-kind—they are true collectors’ items.

baabaaZuzu – Lake Leelanau, MI
Hats, mittens, scarves, jackets, purses and bags, posy pins, christmas stockings and more are handcrafted in beautiful recycled wool… each a work of art.

Pure Detroit – Detroit, MI
Authentic Detroit apparel + unique gifts that represent the 313. Spend an afternoon and shop in the City. Each Pure Detroit store is located in Detroit’s most architecturally significant buildings – the Fisher Building, the Guardian Building and GM Renaissance Center.

Catherine Doll – Sawyer, MI
Located in the popular Harbor Country of southwest Michigan, on the shores of Lake Michigan, Catherine Doll is 80 miles from downtown Chicago. Sustainable fashion created from repurposed clothing – overdyed, pieced, crushed, tied, clamped, taken apart and put back together again. Each piece is one-of-a-kind.

Food, Dining & Drink
Zingerman’s – Ann Arbor, MI
Send great food anywhere in America. Gift boxes of bread, cheese, pastry, olive oil, vinegar and more. You really can taste the difference.

Jampot – Eagle River, MI
Jampot is closed for the season. However, they currently have a full selection of jams,jellies, fruitcakes and truffles available for immediate shipping and the Christmas mail order season.

Sweetie-licious Pie Pantry – Dewitt, MI
Sweetie-licious Pie Pantry is a charming bakery cafe located in downtown DeWitt, Michigan. The vintage ambiance paired with delicious, old-fashioned food makes for a perfect dining or take-out experience. Our fare is created by infusing the best vintage recipes along with the latest taste sensations. All of our foods are homemade, made with only fresh and quality ingredients – no preservatives are ever added. We specialize in retro baked goods, but we have an amazing lunch and dinner menu as well. Simply put, everything we make is truly unique and yummy.

Vintage Michigan Club
Join the Vintage Michigan Club and discover Michigan’s best-kept secret! Enjoy your favorite Michigan wines and reward yourself with special savings. With your lifetime membership you will receive these terrific benefits:

  • Discounts at participating wineries, wine retailers, and restaurants across the state. View the list of participating businesses (PDF).
  • Complimentary Michigan Wines Corkscrew or Etched Michigan Bottle Stopper.
  • Michigan Wine Country magazine, an annual publication with maps to Michigan’s wineries, interesting articles, and all the information you need to enjoy Michigan’s wine country.
  • Monthly email newsletter with the latest Michigan wine-related information.
  • Discounts for selected Michigan wine festivals and events.

Cherry Republic – Glen Arbor & Traverse City, MI
Welcome to Cherry Republic, the land of Life, Liberty, Beaches & Pie! Over 141 gourmet food products made from Michigan cherries to sample, purchase and send as gifts. Cherry Bakery, Cherry Winery, Cherry Cafe and Retail Store. Free gift-boxing.

Leelanau Coffee Roasting Company – Glen Arbor, MI
Leelanau Coffee Roasting has wonderful gifts for all of the special people in your life… Coffee beans! French Presses! Logo Mugs! Grinders! Leelanau Coffee sells all the exciting coffee accessories to make your coffee drinking a true “up north” experience. 2008 marks our Fifteenth Year, and we are proud of our heritage, and excited about the future!

Earthy Delights – Dewitt, MI
Earthy Delights is America’s premier supplier of specialty foods to quality conscious American Chefs. We pioneered the use of overnight delivery to get fresh produce from the farm to the kitchen in the shortest time possible. We are leaders in offering wild-harvested and hand-crafted foods from small harvesters and growers to a larger audience. Now we are bringing this same selection of fine products to the adventurous home chef, using the power of the internet.

Higher Grounds Trading Company – Traverse City, MI
Roasting 100% Fair Trade and Organic Handcrafted Coffees. Check out our great coffee, gifts and gear this holiday season!

Rudy Baggs – Lansing, MI
Rudy Baggs Coffee Roasting Company roasts only world class Arabica coffee and specializes in weekly home delivery.

Pasty Central - Calumet, MI
Order Delicious U.P. Pasties and see why Pasty Central has become a primary starting point for many visitors to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Fresh from the U.P. to you! Great gifts!

Stone House Bread – Traverse City, MI
Our promise is the freshest bread in the North, made every morning with the finest organic flour—fragrant, crusty loaves with the sweet tang of sourdough. The baguettes and boules that emerge from our venerable Matador oven (built in Stuttgart when John Kennedy was president) will prompt memories of morning walks in Paris and Rome. We believe you’ll say, with celebration: Now that’s an honest loaf of bread!

Eden Foods – Clinton, MI
The finest locally grown and organic foods since 1968. Michigan organic beans, processed fruits and juices, pastas, whole grains, Edensoy, vegetable oils, vinegars, soy sauces, misos, snack mixes, teas, dried fruits, popcorn, etc. Buy on-line.

Grocers Daughter Chocolates – Empire, MI
Our artisan, hand-made chocolates and hand-dipped truffles are made with many locally grown/blended products such as herbs, spices, berries, spirits, coffees, teas and nuts. We use no artificial flavors or preservatives, and we buy locally when it is possible.

The Great American Pretzel Company – Howell, MI
At The Great American Pretzel Company ® we make the best gourmet Chocolate Covered Pretzels in America. Our products are made using only the finest milk, dark and white chocolates, the freshest pretzels and highest quality ingredients. Our beautifully packaged, made-to-order pretzels make a perfectly decedent gift for someone special or an indulgent treat for oneself. 1-866-889-5778

Leelanau Peninsula Vinter’s Association – Leelanau county
The mission of the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association (LPVA) is to help spread the word about all the good things happening here in our corner of paradise. Our cool-climate, Michigan wines have been winning more national and international awards and praise each and every year. Leelanau County wines and vineyard tours make the perfect gift.

Pioneer Wine Trail – Southeast MI
Southeastern Michigan’s Pioneer wine making region is a great place to spend a few hours…or a few days! The beautiful rolling Irish Hills, many lakes and Hidden Lake Gardens are right along the trail. Relax, savor our wines, stop for some antiquing and perhaps stay in one of the many Bed and Breakfast inns in the area.

Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail – Southwest MI
Discover the world of wine in your own backyard by visiting our tasting rooms nestled among the rolling hills and inland lakes. We are a short ride from our harbor towns of New Buffalo, St. Joseph, South Haven, and Saugatuck. Enjoy award winning Michigan wines as spectacular as our sunsets on the beach.

Wineries of Old Mission – Traverse City, MI
Jutting north between the azure arms of Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay lies Old Mission Peninsula. Situated at the globe’s 45th parallel – the ideal climate for growing varietal wine grapes – the seven distinct wineries that comprise this stunning appellation have been well recognized by international wine enthusiasts. Discover the beauty of the Old Mission Peninsula and experience its award-winning wines: Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Gewürztraminer, sparkling varieties and the prestigious ice wines.

Home & Garden
Ciao Bella – Petoskey, MI
Garden and home products and services personally chosen to appeal to one’s pursuit of the well-lived life, no matter how great your dream or how small our product.

Spa & Pampering
The Great Lakes Natural Soap Company – Canton, MI
The Great Lakes Natural Soap Company is a Michigan-based producer of top quality natural soap. All of our soaps are handcrafted, in small batches, using premium ingredients and exceptional quality control. No two soaps will ever be exactly alike. Great for gifts!

Little Black Book of Beauty – Detroit, MI
Looking for a new Michigan salon or spa? Or a great skin care provider or personal trainer? Or any other hair, make up and beauty related therapy? Our guide to beauty services will help you find whatever products and treatments you’re after.

Two Bees Candles
100% Beeswax, all natural candles. Free of fragrances, chemicals, paraffin. Great Lakes area beeswax, with the natural aroma of honey from the hive.

Sports & Recreation
Old AuSable Fly Shop & Old AuSable Outdoors – Grayling, MI
Old AuSable Fly shop has Scott, St.Croix, Keystone & TFO Rods Ross, SA, TFO and Bailey Reels. Fish Pond, Pacific Fly, Logo shirts & hats, Dan Bailey Waders, Fly tying materials. Any gizmo or accessory you need! Old AuSable Outdoors is a full service fly fishing pro shop, a complete paddlesports center and a sundries shop with unique items including art, books and gifts with a Northern Michigan flair. We are located on the banks of the beautiful AuSable River.

Lee’s Adventure Sports – Portage, MI
Lee’s Adventure Sports is a family owned Southwest Michigan outdoor sports gear business that was started in December of 1954 by Bill and Evelyn Lee. Lee’s is presently located at 311 West Kilgore Road and being run by Skip and Chris Lee, the next generation. We offer outdoor sports gear product mix of camping, kayaking, hiking, backpacking, skis, snowboards, xc skis, snowshoes, canoes, kayaks, footwear, travel gear, luggage and the clothing to do it all in. Performance and quality is in all of our products.

Bay de Noc Lure Company – Gladstone, MI
Ice fishing and saltwater fishing may not have much in common, but the fishing lures found at the Swedish Pimple website can be used for both ice fishing and saltwater fishing. Ideal lures for saltwater fishing include the Swedish Pimple, Swedish Pimple Ice, Do-Jigger, Laker Taker and the Flutter Laker Taker. On your next excursion, include some of our fishing lures in your saltwater fishing tackle. You’ll be surprised at how many limit catches they produce.

Indian Country Sports – L’Anse – MI
Indian Country Sports is a family owned and operated retail sporting goods business located on the shores of Lake Superior in beautiful downtown L’Anse serving fishing, hunting, and outdoor enthusiasts since 1968.

Toys & Hobbies
Down to Earth Toys – Ortonville, MI
Why Down To Earth Toys? Over 90% of our toys are Made in USA! Offering top quality Wooden and Natural toys made in the USA.We feel that protecting your child, while also supporting America’s economy, are of utmost importance. Whether you are looking for baby toys made in USA, toddler toys, or outdoor toys… know that you have found a store who is dedicated to offering you toys that you will feel great about giving!

Enerdyne Science & Nature Store – Suttons Bay, MI
Gifts for all ages! Enerdyne’s website exists to introduce you to our science and nature store and its products. We also provide interesting information about various science/nature topics. We’d love to have you stop in and visit Enerdyne for your gifting needs!

Drueke – Ludington, MI
The Drueke Company is America’s oldest manufacturer of traditional board games. The chess boards and chess accessories that we offer are second-to-none. Our reputation for quality chess sets inspired us to produce a variety of classic games for our customers to enjoy. Our product line includes action games, backgammon, cribbage, dominos, checkers, game boxes, chess tables and wooden accessories.

National cribbage competition coming to Grand Rapids

Cribbage Pegs by the photoshoparama
Cribbage Pegs by the photoshoparama

The American Cribbage Congress will be holding the Grand National 28 in Grand Rapids on September 25–27, 2009. In addition, the Grass Roots Tournament of Champions will be held on Friday, September 25. Entrants who want to play Grass Roots cribbage on Monday–Thursday nights will have plenty of opportunity, for Michigan boasts thirteen Grass Roots clubs.

All events will be held at the same location: Crowne Plaza Hotel, located near the airport on the southeast side of town (5700 28th Street SE, Grand Rapids MI 49546). A special cribbage rate is available for all GN players (make reservations by calling 800.227.6963).

The event received a nice writeup in the Grand Rapids Press on mlive.com titled – Cribbage tournament brings nation’s best players to Grand Rapids in battle for cash

It’s the first time this Who’s Who battle of card sharks has visited the state. For cribbage groupies, it’s a chance to see De Lynn Colvert, of Missoula, Mont., who is billed as the greatest player in the cribbage universe.

Ace cribbage players are sticklers for the rules, but the state’s mightiest wooden board warrior said all is fair in friendly banter.

While game code is sacred and “timber haulers” are despicable, that doesn’t stop experts from serving up a tall tales and trash talk.

These human calculators “love to drink, play cards and tell lies,” said Jeff Shimp, 70, of Grand Haven, who holds the imposing title of Life Master One Star in cribbage circles.

The tournament is expected to draw about 350 cribbage players from across the country. They will battle for bragging rights and a top prize of about $1,500, depending on the event’s take. Other tournaments, including more than a dozen satellite tournaments, kicked off Friday at the hotel.

mlive.com also has another feature with Muskegon cribbage board collector Dan Betz who 450 boards many of which were crafted by the Drueke Co., founded in Grand Rapids in 1914 and now is located in Ludington.