TRAVERSE CITY — An idea washed over Barbara Overdier and Jim Muratzki during a rainy day on an anniversary trip to Mackinac Island.
The couple spent their vacation avoiding the island’s crowded fudge shops and t-shirt stands, and opted to hike quiet areas and visit historic landmarks. They dreamed of educating other visitors on the island’s natural and historic features and entertaining them during bad weather trips, and got to work on developing that dream.
“We feel like folks probably take the natural history piece of Mackinac Island for granted,” Muratzki said. “We want to put it out there for folks to see.”
Those developments turned into a board game, Mackinac Island Treasure Hunt. Overdier and Muratzki market it through their business, Archipelago Creative, which also sells Overdier's photos as note cards or calendars.
Mackinac Island Treasure Hunt is five games in one. Game pieces can be used for a matching game, dice-rolling game, scavenger hunt game, memory game or Clue-like treasure hunt game. Each one should feel like an educational trip to the island.
Making the board game took plenty of work. Muratzki and Overdier made prototypes, tested them on groups of volunteer gamers, refined the rules and had Mackinac Island experts check every fact.
Preparing the board game for sale took work, too. The couple found a Wisconsin manufacturer who will produce one game at a time, but they want to get enough pre-orders to make a big order from a Michigan manufacturer.
“In order to make this a viable business, what we need to do is make a lot of games, get the price-per down to a point where we can sell it at a reasonable price for wholesale and reasonable price retail,” Muratzki said.
The couple’s target retail price is $40. They’re optimistic about selling games to the 20- to 30-year-old market and Mackinac Island visitors, and have talked to the Michigan Department of Education about putting the game in schools. They hope to put some of the profits toward stewardship initiatives.