Traverse City Record-Eagle

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April 20, 2014

Mancelona's story similar, unique

MANCELONA — This Antrim County community’s story mirrors those of many small towns.

Industry boomed. Franchised stores shot up, mom-and-pops struggled to compete. Industry left, commerce suffered. Unemployment and a lack of tourism make growth tough.

But the story isn’t quite the same, and its revival won’t be either. Mancelona is referenced in Ernest Hemingway stories. A natural gas explosion destroyed three of its downtown buildings in 1995. It’s home to plumes of pollution that went undetected for decades.

Businesses that still stand must offer something special.

Mancelona Hardware and Rental loans equipment. Sandy’s Candies harkens to a time before barcode scanners. The Ellsworth Farmers Market Exchange has a carry-out policy, which means employees heft 10-pound bags of birdseed to the parking lot so customers don’t have to.

“Our decision was to go back to the old days,” manager Ron Aldrich said. “In the end of the day, that’s all you have.”

Read more about Mancelona’s economy and pollution issues in today’s Business section, page D1.

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