SAGINAW, MI — 2020 was a tumultuous year for national retailers, with many filing for bankruptcy, consolidating, or closing their doors for good. Small businesses have struggled, too, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, related restrictions and economic downturn.
But while some businesses closed up shop in mid-Michigan this year, others opened their doors for the first time. Here’s a look back at some of the area businesses that closed and some that opened in Saginaw, Bay and Midland counties in 2020:
Closing: Bringer Inn
The owners of longtime Saginaw eatery Bringer Inn are retiring at the end of the year and selling the business, they announced in December.
Michael and Shirley Bringer have owned and operated the restaurant at 516 W. Genesee for 36 years and have spent more than 45 years in the industry. The future of the restaurant is “uncertain” at the moment, as the property is now listed for sale, they said, but they promised to keep the community updated on the situation.
Read more about Bringer Inn here.
Closed: Barney’s Bakery
Barney’s Bakery, located at 412 S. Van Buren on Bay City’s South End, closed its doors earlier this year after nearly 100 years in business. The bakery announced in May via social media that it was shutting down indefinitely due to “unfortunate circumstances” and thanked customers for their patronage. The bakery originally opened in 1929.
Read more about Barney’s Bakery here.
Opened: Barneys BakeHouse Bakery
But that wasn’t the end of the Barney’s store. The new Barney’s BakeHouse Bakery opened for business in November.
The new bakery, located at 421 S. Van Buren St., has a new name, new owner and new concept.
Read more about Barney’s BakeHouse Bakery here.
Closing: Prestige Jewelry
In early December, Prestige Jewelry, located at 58 N. Center Road in Saginaw Township, announced its plans to close after having a liquidation sale.
“After more than 35 years we are retiring,” read the announcement made via the Prestige Jewelry Facebook page.
Opening soon: Fig & Honey Cheese Co.
Fig & Honey Cheese Co., known for its “Millennial Lunchable” and charcuterie boards for groups of all sizes, is preparing to open its first storefront.
Co-owners Alexis Peake and Kayla Pietrzak started making charcuterie boards for friends and family about a year ago and are opening soon inside the marketplace, 203 S. Washington Ave.
Read more about Fig & Honey Cheese Co. here.
Opened: Saginaw Old Town Junction
The Junction, a restaurant and bar in Saginaw that sat vacant after closing its doors in 2014, has reopened under new ownership.
Saginaw Old Town Junction, 410 Mackinaw Road at South Hamilton, opened in November. The new business owner, Tony Krasinski, said there was a lot of excitement and anticipation surrounding the reopening.
Krasinski kept most of the original menu, which includes sandwiches, fries and appetizers, added dinner specials and incorporated some family recipes.
Read more about Saginaw Old Town Junction here.
Opened: Harbor Freight in Bay City
Harbor Freight Tools opened a new store in Bay City in October.
The store, located at 3762 Wilder Road, was the 37th Harbor Freight Tools store in Michigan and was expected to bring approximately 35 new jobs to the community.
Harbor Freight offers a full selection of tools and equipment in categories including automotive, air and power tools, storage, outdoor power equipment, generators, welding supplies, shop equipment, hand tools and more.
Read more about Bay City’s new Harbor Freight store here.
Opened: Charlie and the Coffee Factory
Charlie and the Coffee Factory opened this summer in Birch Run.
Charlie and the Coffee Factory, located near the Nike Factory Store at Birch Run Premium Outlets, 12158 S. Beyer Road, serves up coffee from Swartz Creek’s Fireside Coffee Co., espresso drinks, smoothies and frappes, plus made-to-order sandwiches, burgers, fries, salads, soups and more.
Read more about Charlie and the Coffee Factory here.
Opened: Circus Time Snacks
Chicken waffle cones, $1 tacos, elephant ears, fried Oreos and cotton candy burritos; these are a few of the specialties customers will find at Saginaw County’s Circus Time Snacks.
The eatery specializing in circus and carnival fare opened inside the food court at Fashion Square Mall, located at the intersection of Bay and Tittabawassee roads in Saginaw Township. Prior to opening inside the mall, Circus Time Snacks was open for a brief stint in 2018 on Court Street in Saginaw.
The menu includes many items priced at $5 or less, including $1 tacos, $2 grilled cheese sandwiches, $3 corn dogs, $4 chicken or turkey subs, and $5 pretzels. There are sweet treats, too, including elephant ears and ice cream sandwiches for $1, cotton candy for $2 and funnel cakes for $5.
Read more about Circus Time Snacks here.
Opened: The BoardRoom
Downtown Saginaw’s SVRC Marketplace has a new restaurant with seasonal menu offerings, curated wine, beer, cocktails and more.
The BoardRoom Bistro opened at 203 S. Washington Ave. in a space formerly occupied by Federal 131. The BoardRoom’s Executive Chef Nicholas Kroll said guests can expect a “very dynamic menu” and an “intimate, cozy” atmosphere.
“It is a chef-driven menu and it is designed to change with the seasons and to be constantly changing with the market and with trends,” Kroll told MLive/The Saginaw News earlier this year.
Read more about The BoardRoom here.
Closed: American Kitchen
Downtown Bay City’s American Kitchen closed early in the year with plans to become a barbecue-style restaurant.
Downtown Restaurant Investments, which also owns the Old City Hall and Tavern 101 restaurants in Bay City, issued a statement in February explaining that the change would build on the success of the company’s Molasses Smokehouse in Midland, which opened in the summer of 2019.
The restaurant, located at 207 Center Ave., has yet to reopen.
Read more about Downtown Restaurant Investments here.
Opened: The Learning Wheel
A new teacher supply store and tutoring center in Saginaw County aims to serve educators, parents and students, whether they’re learning in the classroom or at home.
The Learning Wheel, located at 3085 Bay Road, near Biggby Coffee, in Saginaw Township, offers personalized, one-on-one tutoring for students in kindergarten through 12th grade and “learning pods,” plus classroom supplies, educational toys, games, workbooks and more.
“I’m supporting teachers, but I’m really supporting parents, too,” said Nicole Frederick, a longtime educator who owns the store with her husband, Aaron Crackel.
Read more about The Learning Wheel here.
Opened: Thumb Brewery
Caseville’s Thumb Brewery reopened under new ownership this summer.
Sister-and-brother business partners Lauren and Mark Formicola reopened the brewpub in July in the beach town Lauren Formicola likened to the “Key West of the North.”
They first took an interest in the brewpub in October 2019 when Mark Formicola was enjoying a beer there while on a road trip to Michigan’s Thumb region and noticed a for-sale sign.
“He has a great love of craft beer and so do I,” said Lauren Formicola. Her brother, who is an investor in the business, also has a podcast about politics, culture and beer called Pod’ems UP!
Read more about Thumb Brewery here.
Opened: Bavarian Blacksmith Experience
Visitors to Frankenmuth can now try their hand at the art of blacksmithing and forge their own knife, magic wand, rune pendant and more at the Bavarian Blacksmith Experience.
The new pop-up shop opened at Frankenmuth River Place Shops, an outdoor shopping complex located at 925 S. Main St., in July. The new Bavarian Blacksmith Experience is based on blacksmith Josh A. Weston’s Dragon Forge Experience, which has appeared at various Renaissance-themed festivals and state fairs across the country.
Weston has appeared on the History Channel’s “Forged in Fire,” which features weapon competitions and demonstrations, and competed on the network’s “Knife or Death.” He developed the Bavarian Blacksmith Experience to get others interested in the once-dying art of blacksmithing.
Read more about Bavarian Blacksmith Experience here.
Opened: The Vault
The Vault, located at 110 Florence St., just south of M-46 and downtown Saginaw, opened about a year ago, prior to the pandemic.
“What we’re trying to do is bring in talent you won’t see around the area and mix it with local acts,” Bill Silverthorne, entertainment director/manager, told MLive/The Saginaw News at the time.
Read more about The Vault here.
Opened: Pepper Palace
Pepper Palace, a one-stop shop for gourmet hot sauce, barbecue sauce, salsa, pickled items, jellies and jams, beef jerky and more opened at Birch Run Premium Outlets in the spring.
The shop offers a variety of small batch, handcrafted, natural, and award-winning sauces, plus a pantry of seasonings and apparel.
Read more about the Pepper Palace here.
Apparel and home decor retailer Gordmans permanently closed in Saginaw County this summer.
Gordmans, located at 5204 Bay, was in business for about six years in Kochville Township.
“As is common practice in the retail industry, Stage Stores reviews its store fleet on a regular basis to ensure we remain competitive and best positioned to provide options to our guests. As a result of our latest review, we have made the difficult decision to close the Gordmans in Saginaw, MI in the near future. This decision was not made lightly, as Stage Stores knows its success is rooted in our loyal guests and dedicated associates,” company officials said at the time.
Read more about Gordmans closure here.
Opened: Coco Salon
Coco Salon opened at 3085 Bay Road, near The Learning Wheel, in Saginaw Township in November.
The new salon offers cuts, color, balayage, Brazilian blowouts, facial waxing and lashing services, according to the Coco Salon Facebook page.
Opened: BrittRose Beauti
Brittany Rosas launched the makeup line, BrittRose Beauti, in February at the CMURC CoWork space in downtown Saginaw.
Rosas told MLive/The Saginaw News she was inspired to make her own cosmetics by a woman she saw on Instagram. BrittRose Beauti’s product offerings include liquid lipsticks, eyeliner, lashes and more. Visit the shop at www.brittrosebeauti.com.
Read more about BrittRose Beauti here.
Opened: Creation Coffee
Creation Coffee opened its first coffee shop in November in Midland.
Creation Coffee’s new shop is located at 5023 Eastman Ave. The company offers mobile ordering at www.CreationToGo.com, a coffee subscription service with home delivery and more.
Closing: Globe Fire Sprinkler
A northern Michigan-based, family-owned fire sprinkler manufacturer is going out of business and laying off 154 employees in Standish.
TPL Transition Services/Globe Fire Sprinkler Corp., located at 4077 Airpark Drive, about 30 miles north of Bay City, expects to begin the process of closing and laying off its workers on Friday, Dec. 31.
Read more about Globe Fire Sprinkler here.
Closed: Family Video
Family Video, known for video rentals and, more recently, CBD products, closed and liquidated approximately 20 stores across the state beginning between July and October 2020.
The list of stores slated for closure included two in Bay City, one in Flint and one in Owosso, among others.
Read more about Family Video’s store closures here.
Saginaw County’s OfficeMax store closed in November.
The office supply store, located at 2272 Tittabawassee Road in Kochville Township, was the only OfficeMax north of Flint, according to the company’s website.
Opened: My Community Dental Centers
My Community Dental Centers opened a new low-income dental center in September in Bay City.
The dental health center, located at 2614 Center Ave., was MCDC’s 35th facility in the state.
“MCDC is proud to have this opportunity to provide quality oral health care to the communities in Bay County. The Bay County Health Department has played a critical role as a collaborative partner to make this a reality,” Deborah E. Brown, chief executive officer of MCDC, said before the center’s opening.
Read more about My Community Dental Centers in Bay City here.
Closed: The Savoy Bar and Grill
The Savoy Bar and Grill, a Saginaw restaurant known for serving a free Thanksgiving dinner every year, is closed.
The restaurant, located at 127 S Franklin St., “decided to take a break,” according to a Facebook post dated April 13, the most recent activity on the page, and the business phone number is no longer active. Despite its own financial hardship, the Savoy prepared enough food to serve 700 people for Thanksgiving 2019, relying on donations and volunteers to help make it happen.
It’s unclear if or when The Savoy will reopen.
Opened: Ocean Jasper
The Ocean Jasper wellness spa opened in January at 806 Saginaw St. in downtown Bay City.
“We have services that target pampering the mind, body, and soul,” Ocean Jasper owner Kaitlyn MacGregor told MLive/The Bay City Times at the time. “I believe we bring a place that people can come and just forget about the stress of society, we’re kind of like a little oasis here in Bay City.”
Read more about Ocean Jasper here.
Closed: Pier 1
Home decor retailer Pier 1 closed its Saginaw County location in the first quarter of 2020.
Pier 1 Imports, located at 2508 Tittabawassee Road near Fashion Square Mall, closed at the end of March. The chain specializes in imported home furnishings and decor.
Read more about Pier 1′s store closure here.
Closed: Victoria’s Secret
Victoria’s Secret left the Midland Mall, located at 6800 Eastman Ave., earlier this year during the COVID-19 shutdown.
General Manager Lori Snyder said the mall reopened as soon as the state allowed, but Victoria’s Secret and several other tenants did not. A couple tenants closed permanently, while others postponed reopening as they grappled with a labor shortage.
Closed: Ruby Tuesday at the Midland Mall
Ruby Tuesday was another Midland Mall tenant that closed permanently at about the time of the shutdown, but a locally-owned eatery, Alex’s Railside Restaurant, soon took its place.
Relocated: Alex’s Railside Restaurant
Alex’s Railside Restaurant, formerly of Sanford, relocated to the Midland Mall after the historic flood earlier this year. It reopened in the space left vacant by Ruby Tuesday.
Opened: Orion Sports-Axe Throwing & Combat Archery
Orion Sports-Axe Throwing & Combat Archery opened inside the Midland Mall this fall.
Ax throwing and ax-throwing bars have gained in popularity in recent years. Combat Archery is similar to dodge ball but is played with bows and foam-tipped arrows, said Orion Sports Owner Duane Novak.
Novak aims to move his business into a larger unit soon so he can offer more types of entertainment.
Find Orion Sports-Axe Throwing & Combat Archery on Facebook to learn more.
Opened: South Pacific Island Oasis
A store called South Pacific Island Oasis is another Midland Mall newcomer. The mall manager described it as a “very cool” clothing store.
Opened: Happy Little Treats
Happy Little Treats recently opened inside the SVRC Marketplace. The bakery, specializing in French macarons, opened inside the marketplace in October but has been operating under Michigan’s Cottage Food Law for about two years.
Macaron flavors include Chocolate Silk, Birthday Cake, Lavender and Lemon, Toasted Coconut, and Cookie Dough.
Find Happy Little Treats on Facebook or Etsy to learn more.
Do you know of a new business in mid-Michigan that we missed? Send an email with the details to MLive Reporter Heather Jordan at [email protected]
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