A sign hung in the window for a couple of years letting patrons and the community know that the former owners of Baskin-Robbins at the corner of North Union and Euclid avenues in Bay City wanted to retire.
At the end of 2022, Caren and Chris Thomas announced on Facebook that they were finally ready to sell the last of their inventory of frozen treats and lock the doors, ending a 25-year career.
Lauren Fortin and her partner, Stephen Thibeault, saw that post and decided to buy the business. They spent the next couple months wading through paperwork, franchise agreements, and interview to hire staff. On May 13, they opened the doors of the 801 N. Euclid Ave. store again, just in time for summer.
Baskin-Robbins on Euclid Avenue was briefly closed. It opened again in mid-May.
Fortin and Thibeault live in Waterford, but grew up in Bay City and still have family here. They asked Stephen’s dad, Robert, and his stepmom, Bridget, to join them in the venture because “we wanted to bring in our family,” Fortin says.
It is a true family business, too, Fortin says.
“There’s a lot of people here who are family. Our management team is family, and our employees are family,” she says.
Working in Human Resources, Fortin knew where to look for the right people to get the doors open.
Fortin says the process of re-opening the ice cream parlor hasn’t been without challenges. But between the four owners and with a little help from Baskin-Robbins Corporate, they jumped every hurdle.
She says the corporate office helped choose products, provided information on vendors, and help set the prices. “We were given a range based on local socio-economic categories,” and based the prices on that range, Fortin says. While prices are on the rise for everything, Fortin says they kept the price for a 4-ounce single scoop serving under $4.
Fortin says she and Thibeault work remotely, so they can be in Bay City to help run the business while still living in Southeast Michigan.
They plan to be hands-on owners as much as possible. Robert and Bridget live here and will be minding the store most of the time. Store managers also will help keep everything running smoothly.
Fortin says Robert also works in CNC Machining and will be able to make any repairs they need at the store, while Bridget will run the business side of things.
Plans are to have much the same inventory as the previous owners, including hand-dipped ice cream, smoothies, shakes and frozen coffee drinks. They’ll also have the signature ice cream cakes, and pints to go.
Keep an eye on their Facebook page
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