TRAVERSE CITY — Health and resiliency top the list of things that area employers are thankful for this holiday season.
The COVID-19 pandemic has stressed businesses and their employees in all kinds of ways. Through it all, a common thread of hard work and cooperation has allowed many local businesses to survive despite virus-related hardships across region and nation.
“I’m thankful for the downtown businesses and their resiliency,” said Traverse City Downtown Development Authority CEO Jean Derenzy.
“What they’ve had to go through and what they’ve had to overcome. Some people forget what they faced during the pandemic and it’s now the trickle-down effect as the pandemic continues, making sure they have enough product and doing everything from the dishes to sweeping the floors because of a lack of staff.
“The heart and soul of downtown and the businesses that have persevered is just tremendous,” Derenzy said.
“As an employer,” said Short’s Brewing Company owner Joe Short, “I’m very thankful for our team that shows up feverishly to work on the products of passion that we create, that in turn support all of our philanthropy that goes back into the community. And, of course, everyone in the community who goes above and beyond to keep our community safe and able to keep working.”
Short’s operates a brewpub in Bellaire and a brewing facility and taproom in Elk Rapids. It distributes beer across Michigan and in a dozen other states.
“I’m thankful that my family’s healthy, that our employees are healthy, and that we’re still in business. And family includes our pie family,” said Mike Busley, owner of Grand Traverse Pie Company, which operates 13 locations in Michigan and one in Indiana.
“I’m just thankful for our people and all that they do for pie, and that enables us to do things for community.”
The Traverse City Park Street location was temporarily closed last week because of a COVID-19 exposure.
“But I’m still thankful, because people recover and they come back. And so we’ve been resilient,” Busley said.
“I’m so grateful — deeply, sincerely grateful — for our community, their support of my little cheese company,” said Sue Kurta, owner of Boss Mouse Cheese in Kingsley.
“And I’m in eternal wonderment of the world and nature and the Earth and Michigan and animals and just being a human being that gets to be in the world every day.”
Kurta employs five people in the summer to staff farm market stalls. She herself makes the small-batch artisan cheese.
“I am thankful for the most invaluable, hard-working diligent, faithful and perseverant team that we had at Black Star Farms this year,” managing owner Sherri Campbell Fenton said of the 37 employees at its facilities on Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas, a figure that nearly doubles during the summer. “It makes 100 percent of the difference in just overall ... experience that we’re able to offer our guests.”
As a business that relies on something it can’t control, Campbell Fenton said she is also thankful for a good weather year. She said the quantity of the 2021 grapes may be down slightly, but the quality of the fruit was outstanding.
“It was a pretty good one,” she said. “We’re hopeful that out wines are going to measure up well to 2017, which was a fantastic vintage for us.”
“When everything was shut down, we were right in the middle of construction,” Miner’s North General Manager Jeff Guntzviller said.
“I’m thankful things worked out the way that they did. We have such great support for the community and our customers.”