Summer 2013 Gifts Galore

New stores round out mix of specialty retail options at Michigan resort.

It’s no wonder kids flock to Dylan’s Candy Bar while visiting the Grand Traverse Resort—what child doesn’t love lollipops, after all—but checking out this sweet shop is more than simply a way to reward well-behaving children during a family vacation.

“It’s the experience,” says Diane Goodyear, retail manager for the Traverse City, MI-based resort’s eight stores that make up the four-season destination’s “gallery of shops.” “It’s not even really about the product in there, because you can get bulk candy at other places. Of course the candy is awesome, but it’s the experience of being in a candy shop—a candy shop that many of us remember going into when we were younger. “There are bright colors, there are 200 bins full of different bulk candy you can mix and match.”

Dylans-Candy-Bar-copyWhat’s more, Dylan’s Candy Bar, which is owned and operated by the Grand Traverse Resort, but was started in cooperation with the national Dylan’s Candy Bar brand, also has a complementary store just steps away that serves other treats. Customers sit at tables with gumballs encased under glass and can partake in special craft- and candy-making sessions. “At the café we make all the ice cream in-house,” Goodyear says. “And we let kids make their own cotton candy.”

Dylan’s Candy Bar is one of two newer shops at the Grand Traverse Resort. The second shop is Mud Pie, which offers affordably priced gifts for the home and hostess, as well as for babies and toddlers. Seasonal and holiday gifts, and an expanded collection of fashion and fashion accessories, round out the offerings at Mud Pie, which is the first retail store in the U.S. dedicated exclusively to the brand.

“The fashion—it’s beachwear—is something we didn’t offer in other stores,” Goodyear says. “That’s really what we thought would complete the gallery.”

Covering the bases

baby-apparelMudPie-copyGoodyear, along with Grand Traverse Resort retail buyer Kiley Park, spent months looking for shops to fill open space within the Gallery of Shops, traveling to the trade shows in Atlanta and New York City. The ultimate goal: provide the full gamut of products for guests’ shopping needs. “We thought we had covered all of our bases with the other stores. It was the gift part of it we thought we were missing,” Goodyear says.

Dylan’s Candy Bar opened about three years ago, Mud Pie earlier this year. They joined a line-up of shops that have changed some throughout the resort’s 33-year existence but have remained an integral part of the northern Michigan destination’s draw.

store-frontMudPie-copy“Some shops carry necessities, some carry fun things, we have an outdoor store that carries North Face because people love it, and there’s an all-kids shop. We have a logo shop, a higher-end boutique that carries ladies clothing…but we didn’t really have a shop where you could take a gift home,” she says.

The response to the new stores has been overwhelmingly positive, Goodyear says. “It’s really just about talking it through, listening to what the guests want, really analyzing the other shops and what we already have—and what we’re missing,” Goodyear continues. “It was about reading the surveys the guests write, saying ‘We wish you had a gift shop.’ It’s listening to the guests and going with reputable companies, which we felt we had with Mud Pie and Dylan’s, and you hope for the best.” The Resort worked closely with both brands to get the shops up and going. While these stores aren’t franchises, they follow the brand’s look and feel.

Winter too

Dylans-Candy-Cafe-copyThe Grand Traverse Resort caters to guests including vacationing families and groups visiting for award-winning golf courses, the beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline, well-known farm-to-table restaurants, and regionally produced wine and craft beers.

The Resort also is quickly gaining a following throughout the winter months, Goodyear says, which is all the more reason to provide a variety of retail shops to guests and visitors. The Resort has many meeting rooms, which attracts large companies seeking space for corporate gatherings and holiday parties. Within the past couple of years, the Resort has responded to demands for winter sport activities by turning its pro golf shop into a ski, skate and snowshoe rental spot.

Heather Johnson Durocher

Heather Johnson Durocher is a northern Michigan-based journalist who writes frequently about business for newspapers and magazines. She has contributed to USA Weekend, Woman's Day, Parents and American Baby. For more information, visit www.heatherdurocher.com
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