How do you say thank you to a family who has provided food and other essentials to an island community for 125 years? On Mackinac, you throw a surprise celebration and invite the whole island!
Before Ted and I moved here for the summers, we had very little need to shop at Doud’s Market. Even though it was located on the corner directly across from the Chippewa Hotel, our only venture into the store was for a morning newspaper or occasionally a lunch sandwich from the deli.
Now that we are summer residents, Doud’s has become an almost daily stop for us. We discovered last summer that the produce carried by Doud’s is some of the freshest we’ve ever found anywhere (not counting the Farmer’s Market in Cordele, Georgia, where it comes straight from the field to the vendor’s stall). In fact, when Ted told one of the employees in Doud’s early this spring how much we liked fresh green beans, they made sure that beans were among the fresh produce selected to be sent to the market every week, and we have enjoyed them all summer.
We run into Doud’s for bread, milk, veggies, fruit, and meat. Their deli food is great, and they make a fantastic made-from-scratch pizza.
The store was founded in 1884 by James Doud and has been run by a family member ever since – making it Michigan’s oldest family owned grocery store. The original building stood at the head of the Arnold Dock Line and was called Doud’s Mercantile. That building burned in 1943, and Doud’s reopened that year in its present location at the corner of Main and Fort streets.
Through the years, as the store has passed down through the generations, changes have been made to keep Doud’s updated and fresh, while maintaining its community-oriented appeal.
In the summer, the staples, produce, and meats are brought over on the ferry from the mainland, then unloaded to a horse-drawn dray, which brings it all to the store. Stocking the shelves during the winter season is a little trickier. From the days when Frances and Helga Doud crossed the ice to the mainland on a horse-drawn sleigh, to today when it is done by snowmobile and airplane, Doud’s has always been dedicated to providing the winter community with plenty of fresh dairy products and fresh-cut meats.
Ted and I stopped in for a few minutes to congratulate Andrew and other members of the Doud family last Sunday, as the community came together to celebrate Doud’s 125th anniversary. In the way of most small town “surprise” events, somebody had let the cat out of the bag earlier in the week, but nobody was letting that stop them from having a wonderful time enjoying refreshments and telling “Doud” stories, past and present.
Congratulations to Doud’s Market for 125 years of service to the community of Mackinac Island!
Friends Forever. I don’t think I ever mentioned it, but my new friend Jill has been coming to the island to work since she was 17 years old. Now, I have no idea how old Jill is, and I am certainly not going to ask her. I do know she is a heck of a lot younger than I am. For many of those years, she worked for the Chippewa Hotel, and during that time grew to be great friends with other young women her age who would come to the island to work during the summer.
Three ladies who Jill worked with at the Chip in the 1980′s arrived on the island this weekend. They had all shared housing at what was then called St. Cloud’s Place. This group was in the Pink Pony Saturday night when I was there with Ted watching the Georgia game, and I went over to meet them. Doc, who also worked with them, and who still resides here in the summer, was visiting with them also. They told old work stories and just had a great time laughing about their days together “when they were younger”.
I mentioned how wonderful it was that they were all still friends after almost 30 years, even though they had all gone their separate ways in life and only occasionally see each other. They talked about how different it was “back then”. When they left home for the summer, there were no cell phones, internet, blackberries, or i-phones. To even call home, they had to use the pay phone at St. Cloud’s and constantly feed coins into the slot to keep talking. To call home “collect” was unheard of, because of the cost. So they learned to depend on their friends who they worked and lived with everyday. They became each other’s families during those months, and those kinds of ties aren’t easily broken.