The Pull of Michigan

Photo Credit - MTI


Kath Usitalo, a contributing writer for Michigan Travel Ideas, describes how the pull of Michigan brings previous residents home again.

Many of the entrepreneurs I have met in Michigan have a similar story: They left for jobs, relationships or to see the world, but each one returned to their roots. The pull was too strong to resist when they wanted to start a business, raise a family or begin a new part of their lives.

Lori McCarthy spent six years in New York before returning to central Michigan to open Luminature.  Owosso surrounds her with inspiration for her unique, steel lighting fixtures. The shop also sells rustic and nature-theme art and home furnishings handcrafted by local artists.

In Williamston, visit the century-old home where The Silver Rabbit resides. After Barb Sharp returned, her family helped her with the renovations to transform the building into her beautiful home decor shop. She’s also an interior designer and offers those services.

Erika and John Aylward’s philosophy is to stay small and keep it local in their hometown of Tecumseh, where they were high school sweethearts. In 2004, they opened The Boulevard Market, which sells specialty foods, bread, wine and artisan cheese—some of it made onsite by John. They offer cooking classes, too.

Tim and Joni Flynn raised three kids and started two businesses in Munising. Tim owns a woodworking shop, and the Riptide Ride boat tour is the whole family’s business—even the teenagers help out. Riptide Ride is a 28-foot, 700-horsepower boat that delivers thrills on a zippy tour of the Lake Superior Bay.

An interest in agates brought Karen Brzys to Grand Marais, the UP town where her family hails from and she summered as a kid. After traveling the world in a corporate job, Karen decided to open Gitche Gumee Agate and History Museum. She has also written books on agates, and her passion has earned her the title The Agate Lady.

Each of these former residents found themselves returning home to Michigan to cultivate their businesses and their lives. Entrepreneurs like these are part of what makes the Great Lakes State Pure Michigan.

Kath Usitalo is a freelance magazine writer who is bi-peninsular. She is at home in the Detroit area and at her family’s Lake Michigan getaway, Blue Skies, in the UP. She has been involved in the state’s tourism industry since graduating from the University of Detroit and writes about Michigan for a variety of outlets including Michigan Travel Ideas and her Great Lakes Gazette blog.