Located in Glen Arbor, Mich., just down the road from Lake Michigan and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Cherry Republic bills itself as the world headquarters for all things cherry. And indeed it is. Customers are greeted by a Cherry Ambassador and invited to sample, purchase and send as gifts more than 150 cherry products.
Come hungry to taste dried cherries, chocolate covered cherries, cherry salsa and BBQ sauce, cherry melt brownies, cherry berry jam, cherry crème honey, tart cherry juice, Dr. Cherry soda pop, sparkling cherry juice, even cherry wine. For lunch there’s cherry chicken salad on cherry bread, cherry chili, cherry burgers, cherry pie and 16 flavors of cherry ice cream including smooth cherry, chocolate cherry, cherry mint chip, tractor tracks and rain orchard crunch.
Bob Sutherland, president and founder, grew up in the area and used to sell stones to the tourists. Once out of college, he continued by selling tee shirts and then baked goods, his very first product being Boomchunka Cookies with dried cherries, rolled oats and big chunks of chocolate. With Cherry Republic, Sutherland aims to capture the essence of northern Michigan and put it in a product. Similarly he seeks to create a venue that expresses northern Michigan in displaying the cherry products in the Old Barn retail store, Bakery/Café and Winery, connecting the three structures with a garden of wildflowers. To help preserve what his customers come to northern Michigan for, he adds a 1 percent “duty” to every purchase, with the proceeds donated to Michigan conservancy organizations to help preserve orchards and farmland from development.
If you can’t visit Cherry Republic in person, visit on the website—cherryrepublic.com—or call 1-800-206-6949 for a catalog. Cherry Republic is a particularly busy place before holiday time in December, but orders can be placed any time of year. Gift-boxing is free and includes signature northern Michigan touches of pinecones, birch, cedar, plus gift cards written by hand. Cherry Republic dried cherries have a shelf life of 12 months and can also be frozen for longer storage.
By Anne Hattes