It Takes a Grocery Store to Feed a Village 9/23/09

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. 

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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.

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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. 

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The Doud's.  Andrew, second from the left, manages the store.

The Doud's. Andrew, second from the right, manages the store. (Thanks to Jill for this photo of the family.)

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. 

IMG_7177aThree 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. 

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Sheree, Doc, Karen, and Susan

So whenever the mood strikes one of them, they will get on the phone to each other and say, “Meet you on the island this weekend!”  And they all come.  And it’s as if they never left.
  
Chris Ann.  I met Chris Ann last year in Sutler’s Store at Fort Mackinac.  I was trying to decorate a condo without going off the island, and Chris Ann, who worked at Sutler’s, went way over and beyond the call of customer service to help me – calling the fort’s other store on the mainland to check on items and allowing me to bring things back that didn’t work.  Chris Ann had the sweetest spirit, and we found during our conversations that we also share a love of God.
  
When I began my blog before I left Georgia, Chris Ann was one of the first people to comment on it, and at first neither one of us made the connection.    It took us a while to figure it out, but when she discovered that I was “that Brenda”, and I discovered that she was “that Chris Ann”, we vowed to get together as soon as Ted and I got back to the island.  Fast forward almost five months.  Instead of working at the fort on the island, Chris Ann has spent the summer at the fort on the mainland.  She has also spent the summer entertaining house guests – family and friends from all over the United States.
  
So – this morning, Chris Ann and I finally met face to face for the first time since last summer.  She came over on an early ferry, and we sat for over an hour at the Beanery, over coffee and scones, catching up with each other.  Even though we chat a lot on Twitter and Facebook and by email, it was so good to see her face again!  She and her husband are also doublenesters, and they will be leaving sometime in November to return to Florida for the winter.  I hope we can squeeze in one more visit before then.  Let’s make it happen, Chris Ann!
 
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By the way – just in case you’ve been wondering – the flowers are still blooming and the bees are still buzzing here on Mackinac Island.  Summer is still hanging on by the skin of its teeth, and we are going to soak up every beautiful minute of it.  You can feel fall in the air, but today summer was still smiling!
 
 
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19 thoughts on “It Takes a Grocery Store to Feed a Village 9/23/09

  1. I stayed up to see if your Blog appeared before midnight & what a surprise to read “Friends Forever”…
    GREAT JOB on Doud’s Family & the surprise for Andrew. He sure has done a great job taking over the store.

  2. What a lovely piece on Doud’s! and Andrew sure has worked a miracle since he took it on. I hope you wouldn’t mind if I snagged one of your photos to replace the one I took then for a SnapGenie I made called ‘My Hometown’? I share it with my class whenever we are studying community resources.

  3. A very nice blog Brenda! You do an awesome job with each one you do.
    It made me smile to see people that worked together still have that friendship tie going on even after 30 years!

  4. I love, love, love your blog. I look forward to reading it everyday! My family and I travel to the island at least once a year (wish it could be more) and are always looking for stories and historical facts about this beautiful place. Thanks for sharing your’s.

  5. We look forward to your wonderful blog every day, and love all the beautiful pictures. What makes it especially nice for us are your kind comments about our Jill. And of course – – we know how old she is ? ? ?.
    Thank you for sharing the daily happenings on the Island with us. We hope you continue writing from your GA home this winter.

  6. I loved the Doud’s celebration. That type of things only seems to happen in close knit communities.

    The Best Friends segment was wonderful. A tribute to what really matters.

  7. Hello….your blog has fulfilled my “island fix”…and although I’m just a ferry ride away…will not be able to come this trip. Good news, though, brother-in-law is on his way by ambulance to St. Ignace and M won’t have to make the long drive each day. He will be in rehab here for a few weeks. So glad our trip coinsided with this family event and we could be of some help. Headed for the reunion at NMU tomorrow.

    Will keep reading…so please keep writing.

    Blessings,
    CAA

    • That picture is AWESOME Laura W! Thanks for sharing it. My husband and I were on the island just this past weekend and I took a really neat picture of a stairway at Mission Point at night. It came out so nicely, but I lost it when I was transferring my pics on the computer. My computer acts up now and then. Thank goodness it was only the one pic. I took a second one but it was from another angle and not quite as nice.

  8. When I think of how you would create a book of favorite blogs, my mind goes back to the first book composed by Lewis Grizzard containing some of his early columns.
    I guess he just hit the “high spots” but none the less it was good reading.
    Us “slo folks” like pictures with our words and any blog with pictures is a treat.
    I’m glad that I don’t have the challenge that you will face in doing a book. I’m sure that your winter will be very BUSY.
    If you need local color to write about this winter you always have the Gillium’s, McCorkles and Lazy Pines.

  9. I found your site by accident while on the island this summer during the time the yacht (Linda Lou?) was docked at Arnold. I have followed religiously ever since. My favorite parts are your photos of all the places I recognize and then reminiscing about my time on the island. Your pictures have such great composition. Could you share what type of camera you use?

    • Thanks so much for the kind words, Jean!

      My camera is a little Canon PowerShot A530 – 5.0 mega pixels – 4x optical zoom. My husband gave it to me as a retirement gift 2 years ago, and I love it. On “auto”, which is where I usually have it set, it is just a “point and shoot” camera. Nothing fancy, but it does take good pics!

  10. I worked at the Chip and lived in St Cloud Place 1978 and 79. I worked with Jill and Doc; he is one of my best friends. He got married on the island a few years ago, so of course a bunch of us showed up. The Cloud: the boys lived in the original front part of the old tourist lodge; the girls were in the back in motel like quarters that had been built on. A lot of guys mostly crashed back there, sometimes just to escape the partying that went on every night in the front. Most of the island’s worker dorms were horrible pits, with strict rules. The grandsons of the Chip’s owner managed the place. They had worked there as students so were well aware that happy employees would show up for work. So the Cloud was a nice place with almost no adult supervision. Yep, it was a special place. Many of us stay in touch; I just saw someone from there last weekend whom I hadn’t seen in 19 years.

  11. I am looking for more info on st.cloud, my x- mother-in-law was the owners of st. cloud back in the days, she grew up their as a little girl and I believe her dad was mayor or something like that, we would take her up there to see her childhood home every summer, he passed away a few years back. anyone with more info please e-mail me, thanks so much

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