GTPulse Weekend Planner: Interlochen
My Mom moved to Interlochen the year I was entering the third grade, and every time I visit, I am flooded with memories. My sisters and I would bike from my Mom’s house to the Interlochen State Park, spending the day swimming before biking home with wet hair and towels draped around our necks. Summer days spent at Eberle’s Farm Market on the corner of my subdivision where I would spend every last penny of my babysitting money on piles of Reese’s peanut butter cups, and then run home at full speed so they wouldn’t melt in the July sun. Hours of begging my Mom to take us down the road to Fun Country—swearing we would never misbehave, or argue, or complain about anything ever again if she would take us. Corralling grocery carts with my car in the parking lot when I bagged groceries at Ric’s Food Center because I didn’t want to push them in the cold.
Interlochen has changed a lot since I was a kid. The farm market was sold making way for a Dollar General store. Tom’s replaced Ric’s for grocery needs while Ric’s became a book warehouse. Fun Country sits vacant; nothing more than overgrown weeds with virtually no sign of the once prominent waterslides and Go-Kart tracks that beckoned kids to return every year, like a summertime spiritual pilgrimage. Yet, with all of the change that comes from thirty-five years of development, progress, economic downturns and business ventures, one undeniable aspect of Interlochen remains: It’s just a cool, laid-back place with cool, laid-back people.
A familiar sign detailing an executive order to wear masks is displayed in the window of Mrs. O’s Crap Shack in Interlochen. But, in true Mrs. O fashion, this particular sign includes an additional order, this time issued by Mrs. O herself, “Don’t be an a**.”
Even in the midst of a pandemic, Robin O’Malley—Mrs. O—retains her signature tongue-in-cheek humor, a quality that has propelled an online auction, where Mrs. O sold her own “crap” to her friends on Facebook, into a popular consignment shop that also serves as a community gathering space in the heart of the village of Interlochen.
“It was never my intention to turn this into a business,” Robin explains, “I just had all of my own crap and I thought, ‘well, I think I’m going to try selling this stuff on Facebook’ and then fifty friends of mine bought everything and in a couple of weeks, I was out of crap and people were wanting to shop, so I started reaching out to my friends to see if they wanted me to sell their crap, and that’s just really how it took off.”
We’re standing in the relatively new location of the Crap Shack, next door to the original shack, and Robin’s infectious laughter is indeed contagious as she recalls how often she has grown out of crap space, “The auction took over space in our garage, out basement, our bedroom…When moved to a physical location, my husband was just happy to get all of that space back!”
And, it’s a good thing she has a bigger space. Women’s clothing, shoes, accessories, home goods, and more are tastefully scattered throughout the store. Mannequins are wearing cute combinations and I ask Robin if she just naturally has an eye for fashion, “Actually, the girls do a lot of this.” Robin is referring to her staff—Jenny, Hilery and Rose-Bud—only I get the feeling they’re more like family than employees and Robin seems to read my mind, complimenting them for their dedication, creativity and enthusiasm.
Mrs. O’s Crap Shack works like a typical consignment store: Women (mostly) bring new or gently used unwanted items to the store and Robin and her team sell said items. But, unlike a typical consignment store, Mrs. O’s Crap Shack has Mrs. O; a business savvy woman with a background in finance and marketing, and a downright intoxicating personality that keeps people coming back. “They come for the magic coffee,” Mrs. O says pouring me a cup of coffee with a shot of “magic.” The complimentary coffee drinks at the Crap Shack add a bit of elegance to this cozy and inviting consignment store, the type of elegance usually reserved for bridal boutiques and high end clothing stores and rarely, if ever, in a store that regularly uses bathroom humor and wordplay in its marketing. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously, that’s for sure. But, we do take our customer service seriously.”
Nestled between Duck and Green Lakes, Interlochen literally means “between lakes,” although its true history begins with the Odawa people, who first lived between lakes Wahbekaness and Wahbekanetta. As European settlers began logging and fishing in the area, the names changed, but the idea of life between the two lakes remained. Nature is at the heart of Interlochen and in 1917, its beauty inspired the Michigan legislature to establish the first state park. Over one hundred years later, Interlochen State Park draws visitors from around the world for swimming, fishing, camping and paddling. Just outside the village, surrounded by towering pine trees, is another the Lake Dubonnet State Park, where visitors can hike or ride horses and camp along the shores of Lake Dubonnet. The rustic trail camp is designed for equestrian riding the South-to-Shore Trail, a 420 mile trail system that stretches from Empire to Oscoda.
Not long after Interlochen State Park became Michigan’s first state park, a man by the name of Joseph E. Maddy was asked to bring together 200 students from across the country to create a national high school honors orchestra. Maddy and his colleague, TP Giddings became determined to create regular opportunities for these talented musicians to gather and perform together. This idea brought forth the National High School Orchestra Camp, and Maddy searched the country for a suitable home when he came across two struggling summer camps: Camp Penn Loch for boys and Camp Interlochen for girls. On June 24, 1928, 115 students arrived from across the country and thousands of area residents came to witness what was considered a phenomenon—a high school orchestra playing like professionals. Since its first summer, Interlochen has become a sanctuary for students to study music, theatre, visual arts, film creative writing and dance. And, in 1962, Interlochen opened the nation’s first independent boarding school focused on the arts. Although the campus is closed to the public due to the Covid-19 pandemic, students are continuing to learn, gaining inspiration from outstanding faculty and the scenic beauty that surrounds them.
Interlochen is a versatile playground for art lovers, nature enthusiasts and women looking for some really nice crap. And, if you happen to call it home, count yourself amongst a lucky group of people who get to live a world class life in a laid back environment.
Weekend plans: Spend a full day, no matter the season, by enjoying the trails, diverse dining and, of course, Mrs. O’s Crap Shack. And, don’t forget to ask Mrs. O for a little magic in your coffee!
Dining & Entertainment
Lochenwood Ice Cream and Mini Golf Delicious soft serve ice cream treats and a darling miniature golf course that is fun for the whole family.
Agave Express Dine in or carry out delicious Mexican food—if you crave it, they have it. https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Spanish-Restaurant/Agave-Express-1031841407001301/
Oaky’s Tavern Serving smokehouse inspired tastes as well as the joys of comfort foods. https://www.facebook.com/tavern31
The Hofbrau Steak House & American Grille Located within walking distance of world renowned Interlochen Center for the Arts, the Hofbrau offers a rustic ambience with fantastic food and the largest selection of beer in the north. http://hofbrausteakhouse.com/hofbrau-menu/
Cicero’s Pizza Family owned and operated since 1985 serving the best pizza in Michigan https://cicerospizzainterlochen.com/
- Papano’s Pizza Fabulous hometown pizza for dining, take-out or delivery http://www.papanos.com/interlochen.php
Bradley’s Pub & Grille serving fabulous lunches and dinners all year long, just steps away from the Interlochen Golf Course http://www.interlochengolf.com/bradleys/
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