Amairis Tuck and mom, Anne Tuck, welcome visitors to their new store, The Sweet Life, featuring candy, gifts and catering.

By Kurt J. Kolka

Grayling has changed a quite a bit in the last few years. And this is only the beginning, according to Rae Gosling, Downtown Development Director.

She notes we have already seen two new businesses take up shop recently – The Sweet Life and Gypsy Soul Resale, on opposite sides of Michigan Avenue.

“The Sweet Life just opened up. Had a chance to go in there and it’s really nice. They looking forward to growing the line and expanding the inventory they have.

“Gypsy Soul is an incredible asset to our downtown. They have great turnover in product. Good pricing. They are very community-minded as well.”

Gypsy Soul Resale has lots unique inventory to offer visitors.

But those two stores are just the beginning of what is expected to be many new businesses coming to the downtown area in the near future.

“Eric and Penny Podjaske are working the northeast corner building where Michigan Avenue meets the I-75Business Loop. The business was described to me as like an Etsy business but in a storefront. So, hand-crafted and hand-made small batch items which are unique. It really plays into our artist-artisan element of our downtown.

“Our downtown strategy is the art of recreation. It focuses on highlighting the artisans and recreational elements which exist in our community. We’ve got brewers. We’ve got Michigan-made products. We’ve got flyfisherman who are tying their own flies. Those are great things to have in our downtown.”

The Food Court, also on Michigan Avenue, next to Davita Dialysis Center, is expected to be finished and up and running yet this summer.

Beginning this fall, the old Chief Shoppenagon’s Motor Hotel, the Sawmill and the former Crawford County Avalanche buildings are expected to be demolished. A new hotel is expected to be built on the old location.

“Right now, the proposed project to go there is a boutique hotel. So, the main floor will have retail locations along with a lobby. Hotel rooms will be upstairs.”

An apartment complex will be built across the street, featuring 42 studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments. The new building has been given approval by the planning commission.

“It will be 2,700 square feet on the main floor for commercial use. And then it will go up four stories. So five total.”

It is believed construction on both buildings will begin sometime in 2020.

Despite what appears to be lack of progress from the outside, plans for the new Northern Market are still coming along, insists Rae. The collective involved in the project still has some hoops to jump through before the business can open.

“These are really exciting times for Grayling,” says Rae.

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Kurt J. Kolka grew up in the small community of Grayling, Mich., near the forested AuSable River. After majoring in English at college, he began a career in writing and newspapers spanning more than two decades. In his spare time he creates a Christian comic strip, The Cardinal, which has a 28-year history of publication. He has also authored a book, “Bullying is No Laughing Matter” (Front Edge Publications, Ann Arbor, Mich., 2014) and is working on his first novel. Kurt and his wife Diane have been married for more than 25 years and have one daughter, Rebekah, and an overprotective dog, Alli. Of life, Kurt says, “Life is never dull with God at the steering wheel, but, man, does He have a lead foot!” More about Kurt and his musings may be found at


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