Sauble Lake Emporium Now in Limbo by Walt


Over the years, Sauble Lakes have taken two major hits. The first was when the Fun Stop burned down and I lost my bowling lanes tucked away in the Manistee National Forest. Then the Keasters (I think that’s spelled right} sold the Emporium. Now that was a country store.

I’m old enough to remember Otto Bartlett’s store over at Big Bass Lake but the Emporium was far greater though each had their charm. Each had a great vista of their respective lakes and that was a selling point of each store.  The Emporium stocked moe merchandise and the parking was never a problem. 

Now each of those stores stands vacant.  It’s sad.  The Bender Family has a country store between Big Bass Lake and Loon Lake that seems to be doing okay.  And ha the original owners kept their store I think the Emporium still would be in business. 

The Big Bass Lake store would need a total remodeling job to get it into shape for any business that took it over.  The Emporium would need far less remodeling.  I wonder what will become of the old Emporium store?  Country stores are an albatross in today’s economy it would seem.  Still they served their purpose and I, for one, loved making purchases there.  I really enjoyed their ice cream.

Maybe the Emporium could be made over into a roller skating rink like the one that at one time was on Loon Lake?  It deserves a better fate than to be razed or turned into a home.  Any ideas on what might become of the Emporium? 

17 thoughts on “Sauble Lake Emporium Now in Limbo by Walt

  1. When I was a small boy back in the 60’s my family would go up to Sauble lake to stay at a campground across from the Emporium, what ever happen to the campground? My father knew the owner I think his first name was Bill.

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  2. Al and Ginni Kester hated to sell, but after many years, selling then getting it back, health caught up with them, but they’re doing well and I stay in touch. I go back to this small store which the tripled in size and had a GREAT meat counter. So many changes….not like the old days.

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  3. Back in the early 50’s, a guy named Bill Vanderhunst (sp?) had a resort on the fourth lake; he might be the guy you’re thinking of. Sad to learn that Bass Lake Store is closed down. We got everything there including our mail. Where do locals go for supplies now? Luke’s Corners?

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  4. Sad to hear that; I guess people now have to go to Scottville or Baldwin for supplies. Of course a lot of the staples we depended on probably aren’t needed any more (kerosene and ice in 25-pound blocks. Back in the 50’s, Otto cut his own ice on the lake, but later trucked it in.

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  5. No offense Walt–and I think the last time I passed the store it was a prosperous blue–but if Al had told the truth about the store when he sold it and priced it for what it was really worth, then people would not have felt the need to ditch on him the next year when they learned the truth about all things and what it was really worth. “Oh yes, yes, the store can cover that.” He must have said that a dozen times as he tacked on new expenses we would be paying him for worthless junk.

    I had known Ginny almost all my life. It broke my heart to have to have Mark and Al go at it like they did at the end because Al wanted to sell the store and run it too. We would have kept it and broke even by the end of the next year (I did a financial projection the next year when I took a marketing class), but Mark was just so angry, it made no sense even to consider staying.By the way, the store could cover it, but only when we stopped paying Al in the winter. That was what the books didn’t show. The total revenue was exactly equal to what he though he should get paid, What did he expect to run the store on? Oh, right, my job. Then we would eat what? “Well it will be rough for a couple years…”

    By the way Mark passed away in July 2013 from cancer.

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  6. From 1970 to 1975 my family rented a cabin for a week in the summer on one of the Sauble lakes…#2 I think; a coworker of my father’s with the last name of Bennett. We turned right at the first road past The Fun Spot about one quarter mile from this road. Do you know if the cabin exists still?

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  7. Bruce MacInnis,
    Somehow my father(Carroll Farrer) knew Bill and helped him build that resort. We owned the red trailer that sat up by the road for many years. Do you know if there is any of his family in the area.

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  8. When I lived in the area about 1975 to 1980 I was the director of camp Martin Johnson. Al and Gina were great friends of the Camp as well as Fire Chief. Most all employee of the camp were on the fire department. We would buy all are egg from the store about 4 Case a week. One time we were going to have a Bratwurst and Corn roast for visitors day. Having lived in WI for a while I knew the brat’s “just had to soak in beer” for several days. So I picked up several case of PBR to do the soaking in. When I got the bill to submit to YMCA to pay the invoice was for 10 case of Large eggs and 2 case of “BLUE EGG”, Al’s billing code name for the PBR beer.

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