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Collaboration with results:  Local small businesses create an Up North casual destination

August 6, 2018

By Ernie McPherson and Steve Trecha

The invitation began like this: “We’ll be meeting at Lovewell’s Corner Store. Our goal is to bring more customers to the select businesses that are willing to cross promote and make our area even more attractive to visitors.” This invite launched the Cozy Corner of Ogemaw County TM.

Now, just four years later, nine Ogemaw County small businesses are collaborating with remarkable results. The Cozy Corner includes an antique shop, a home-style diner, a golf course, a country store, a tavern, a maple syrup producer, two wineries and a campground and RV resort. These small businesses have created a successful up north casual destination. And, they’re having fun at it too—bonus!

Cozy Corner members share a common goal of business and community economic development. Margie Peterson (and her late husband, Bob) owns Lovewell’s Corner Store in Lupton and is one of a handful of Cozy Corner founders. “We’re proud members of the Cozy Corner because we value a strong sense of coherent community,” says Margie. Her country store is unique and she integrates the business side with great community care. Lovewell’s tag line reads, “The little store with a big inventory and an even bigger heart.”

Alone we are good; together we are quite an attraction,” adds Sean Delaney, owner of SD & Sons Wood Fired Maple Syrup. His Rose City business features locally produced, delectable maple syrup and candy treats.

Each year members set the Cozy Corner promotional agenda. One Cozy Corner website links to each members’ Facebook home page and individual websites. Promotional materials are placed at welcome centers across Michigan, at members’ stores and at local events. And all materials are sanctioned by the state’s Pure Michigan campaign. Additionally, an annual “Taste of the Cozy Corner of Ogemaw County TM” event is held each summer. It’s a chance to visit and sample members’ goodies while enjoying an afternoon of up north fun.

Another big Cozy Corner promoter is the West Branch Chamber of Commerce. All Cozy Corner members belong to their local chambers and many are Small Business Association of Michigan members.

Cozy Corner members are of the same cloth: hardworking, community oriented and customer focused. “We’ve accomplished more as a banded group, in making people aware of our community’s unique flavor. It’s a win for us and the community,” say Steve Ziolkowski and his wife, owners of Rose Valley Winery. They are also Cozy Corner founders and one of the first Northeast Michigan wineries to create fine wines with locally grown, cold-hardy grapes.

“The Lupton area is a hidden gem and the Cozy Corner is a big reason for the influx of new faces. Being a partner of the Cozy Corner has opened the eyes of many in the area,” offers Charlies Wiltze, owner of The Cedar Tavern and Grill, a classic pub specializing in country entertainment.

The Cozy Corner has been well received by the local community. “Customers appreciate businesses working together,” says Kenalee McGregor. Kenalee and her husband own The New Sun Rise Café and Cabins. The Sun Rise is a popular Lupton diner serving home-cooked meals and baked goods. “The Cozy Corner is a way to help each other out and help our businesses at the same time,” adds Polly Mason, co-owner of the Rusty Red Rose and a member of the Cozy Corner. This quaint antique and consignment shop is in a charming building in downtown Rose City.

The newest member to the Cozy Corner is Valley Mist Vineyards. They feature over 25 varieties of locally crafted wines. Brad Moore (owner) offers, “I know many of the Cozy Corner business owners. It made good business sense to join. I’m happy to be working with my neighbors.”

As owners of the Green Briar Golf Course (Ernie) and the Warblers Cove Family Campground and RV Resort (Steve), we believe in the power of collaborations. Collaboration works when all stakeholders are engaged. We are small businesses that work together to promote a destination that offers great customer experiences. We are neighbors, friends, and now business collaborators.

The Cozy Corner of Ogemaw County TM,, welcomes others to join and feel free to contact us to find out how you can make collaboration happen in your community.

If you’re looking for an up north, pure Michigan, casual destination with friendly folks, super service and great local products, come visit us at the Cozy Corner. You’ll be glad you stopped!

Ernie McPherson is is the General Manager and Partner of Green Briar Golf Course and Grill, an 18-hole full-service golf property and bar and grill. The course boasts a modern design, large bent grass greens and tees and fully watered blue-grass fairways. Learn more about Green Briar on FaceBook or call Ernie directly at 800.500.6020. 

Steve Trecha is the founder of Warblers Cove Family Campground and RV Resort, Featuring 640 acres, four lakes and 220 camp sites, it’s where you can “Create Family Memories One Trip at a Time TM.”  Steve is also the Chief Results Officer at Integrated Strategies Inc., a business transformation and supply chain consultancy.  Learn more at, visit him on LinkedIn or call 517.381-4800 x2190.

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