M-211 Mercantile Co. is just south of Onaway State Park at the Allis Hwy and 4-Mile corner. This delightful little purple shop houses a gourmet bakery, specialty beer & wine, and a unique art stop. Owner Julie Schaedig wasn’t certain what to expect when she and her husband, Kenneth, bought the retail store seven years ago. She said she, “just always liked baking for hunting camp, and my husband loves to grow food.” The building was previously home to Kokopelli’s, a southwestern-themed gift shop. And the owners of that shop were very particular about who would be purchasing the building (and that it should stay purple, which it obviously did).
Although Kenneth had years of business experience, Julie didn’t realize how “feet first” she’d truly have to dive in, having never been a small business owner before. She said it was a real change, that her “life had been perfectly planned out up until that point. But opening up a retail store, boy, that sure turned that right upside down.” And this year, she said, all that dedication and hard work is really starting to pay off. They have regulars that stop in daily for scones, fresh baked breads, and coffee. Tourists also continue to discover the area gem, and share with the owners how they heard about the “purple store in the middle of nowhere.”
In addition to the many locally sourced products on the shelves like 4D Acre Farm maple products, and Michigan beers and wines such as Cheboygan Brewing, Austin Brothers Beer Company, North Peak Brewing, Short’s, Chateau Chantal, Left Foot Charley, next summer, they’ll have fresh produce for sale on site as well. Because of TLD’s partnership with the Building Healthy Communities initiative, grant dollars helped to create a small garden behind the purple store so they can get their vegetables on the shelves. What they don’t sell, Julie turns into pickles and salsas that the customers rave about.
M-211 Mercantile Co., located at 2036 N M-211 Hwy, Onaway, MI 49765, is open Thursdays-Mondays from 10am-5pm. You can message them from their Facebook page to get more information and find out the day’s bakery specials.
Molly Stepanski is the Local Food Coordinator for northeast Michigan. She enjoys reading with her seven year old, planting and hiking in the dirt, cooking up her own recipes, drinking farmhouse cider, and eating lots of fresh, seasonal produce (and anything deep-fried, in accordance with her southern heritage). She owns and operates Presque Isle Farm with her family. Contact her at [email protected].