Michigan Family Campground Marks 50th Year
Nestled along the shore of Marble Lake near Quincy, Mich., is Sunset Cove, a family business started 50 years ago and still going strong, according to The Hillsdale Daily News.
Sunset Cove is a campground with a store that holds more than just any convenience camp store. It’s a unique furniture and gift shop with everything imaginable. The general store is open daily May through September and weekends from October through December.
Laney Economou, her mother, Arlene Fickle and her brother, Loran Fickle, run the store with other family members, carrying on the tradition started by father and husband, Loran Fickle Sr.
“We’re very thankful to be in our 50th year,” said Arlene Fickle, adding the celebration is bittersweet for the family that lost its founder, her husband, who passed away last September.
“We’re planning to do things he would enjoy,” said Economou, noting an annual pig roast in August will be planned on a grander scale to celebrate the park’s 50th year.
“After he was in the Army in his 20s, my dad (Loran Sr.) asked his mom and stepdad, who owned the land, if he could start a bait shop,” Economou said.
Then, someone asked if they could park their trailer on the land and he got the idea for making a campground, she added.
“He cleared the land himself,” she said. “Luckily they (parents) believed in him.”
The land now has an apartment building and about 315 camp sites, 90% of which are rented year–round as seasonal sites. The rest are rented to overnight campers.
Memorial Day weekend kicked off the camping season.
The store carries more than camping goods and a few groceries. Meandering through the aisles of general merchandise soon leads into more rooms and aisles of furniture, grandfather clocks, pedal cars, neon signs, curios, computer desks, file cabinets and even bedroom suites.
“We started adding furniture in the 80s,” Arlene Fickle said. “We went from just a convenience store to more of a fun gift shop.”
Explaining that her husband was an antique aficionado, Fickle admitted most of the items are reproductions.
“He was really into antiques and would bring them back on trailers from as far away as Texas,” Economou said.
Five cottages on the land were originally built and one of the cottages is what the store leads into, she explained.
“The buildings were all originally painted pink,” added Fickle, noting that was the color of paint her husband had from his previous place of employment. “Even the row boats we rented out were painted pink.”
His mother, Margaret Wilmarth, had a bait shop in the basement of the store and when the store got busy, she would help with customers, Arlene Fickle said.
Now, Economou’s two young children help dip ice cream cones during the summer and her brother’s and sister’s children help with the store as well.
All living within a square mile of each other, the family is glad to carry on with the tradition their father started.
“He did what he set out to do,” Economou said. “He’s living on in us.”