Continued Hope

Symons General Store in Downtown Petoskey

As I gaze out my studio window in Downtown Petoskey, I revel in the hope I feel on the horizon.” I wrote these exact words last year in January of 2021 after a year of COVID, never expecting to have to write them again. Yet, here we are, again.

Out my studio window, Little Traverse Bay is calm; out my door to the street, calm; over in Roast & Toast, quiet. Masks prevail, and while Emmet County is a shinning example of vaccinations, a new COVID variant, Omicron, is taking advantage of the unvaccinated and anyone at risk with other health related issues. The result? Downtown Petoskey sighs.

Last year we prepared for the new Roaring 20’s but have slid sideways into the Cautious 20’s. Businesses remain open, and on weekends are full of visitors, but with schools and businesses open around the state, many stay in the comfort of their own locales and away from the swarms so as not to chance a new infection. Boosters have become an option, and by health department statistics around the country, work.

Hope frazzled, we find Mondays through Thursdays returning to the townsfolk, much like an episode of “Northern Exposure.” Interestingly, this used to be the norm. Last winter we ramped up outside dining and shops opened with some restrictions, but crowds arrived in droves wanting to alleviate their COVID strain with a change of venue. Thus, in various online reports, Petoskey and Emmet County have become destinations for many who had never experienced our Downtown.

For example, I saw one article that called Emmet County “the best place to retire in the State of Michigan.” In recent reports, Emmet County had the highest alcohol use per capita in the state. While many may see the latter as a negative, the evidence suggests how popular a resort area we remain, and how Downtown Petoskey has become the engine of the expansion.

Like last year, though, now is the time for repairs and reshuffling of inventory. We work around supply and demand issues created by a worldwide economy attempting to reignite the furnace of manufacturing and trade, while at the same time, stay open for business – and in fact, open new businesses.

Normalcy? Each person may have an opinion or theory, but one thing remains: Petoskey sits on Little Traverse Bay where Bay Street, Lake Street, Mitchell, Michigan, and State Streets all pierce the heart of Downtown and provide a refreshing respite for anyone wishing to make the trek. Snowfall has been minimal, and until this week, temperatures moderate.

It’s anyone’s guess as to the way 2022 materializes, but suffice it to say, we’re here for the duration. Come visit; be prepared for the weather; and bring your smile. Rest and relaxation are supposed to be just that, rest and relaxation. See you soon…

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