As the days get longer, Kawkawlin-based Jerky Outlet races into its busy season

Summer daydreams bring visions of ice cream cones, sandy beaches, backyard barbecues, and, for some I-75 travelers, spicy jerky.

Jen Dore, Marketing Director for The Jerky Outlet, says summer is the busy season for the nine locations of the Kawkawlin-based store.

“There’s lots of tourist traffic along I-75, so we definitely see and prepare for that,” Dore says.

​​​​​​​The most popular flavors at The Jerky Outlet are Teriyaki Beef, Peppercorn Beef and Turkey Jerky. (Photo courtesy of The Dore Corp.)The Jerky Outlet is part the Dore Corporation. Its holdings include 15 locations throughout the region. The Jerky Outlet, Mobil service stations/convenience stores, Dutch Village Adventure Park, and North Point Grill & Bar make up the Dore Corporation.

It all began in 1976 when Fred and Elaine Dore, farmers and Jen Dore’s grandparents, bought a small, closed service station located about ¼ mile from the family farm. The empty station was located on Beaver Road near Exit 168 from I-75.

Fred Dore sent in what he thought was a low bid for the business.

“A few months later, they received a deed in the mail and they were gas station owners,” Jen Dore says.

A fun run on Sat., March 18 races money for three charities. (Graphic courtesy of The Dore Corp.)Fred Dore set to work learning how to operate a gas station. He put his sons, Tom, Don, and Fritz Dore, to work at the station. Fritz Dore is Jen Dore’s father.

Over time, the business expanded. In 1992, they bought a station located in Alger near Exit 202. They didn’t know it then, but the Alger station was the beginning of a new business.

“At that time, the gas station was already known for the jerky they were making there,” Jen Dore says. “That was nothing we had done before, but we immediately saw how successful it was.”

The brothers started asking themselves how they could expand the jerky side of the business.

Today, Tom and Don Dore have retired. Fritz Dore owns and operate nine Jerky Outlet stores near I-75 in Bay City, Kawkawlin, Standish, Whittemore, Linwood, Alger, Tawas City, Omer and Mackinaw City. The Alger outlet is being renovated now to add a beer cave and an expansion of refrigerated jerky items.

As winter weather wanes, those stores are poised to get busy. The rush starts in the spring when people begin traveling north to open family cabins. It gets a little busier over Memorial Day weekend. And it peaks as soon as schools let out for the summer.

“In the summer months, it’s pretty heavily families and people traveling north for the summer,” she says. “Once that October time frame hits, we are seeing a lot of hunters, a lot of folks doing to deer camp.”

While the jerky business gets ready to speed up, Jen Dore is focused on the 5th annual North Point5K coming up on Sat., March 18. The half-kilometer fun raises money for North Point Charities, Relay for Life Bay County, and the Good Samaritan Rescue Mission.

All event registration proceeds plus 20% of food sales on the day of the race go to the charities.

The race begins at Spring Valley Golf Course at 3:45 p.m. and finishes at North Point.

“It’s a fun St. Paddy’s Day event,” she says, adding that registration is open until the race begins.

The Dutch Village Adventure Park will open in mid-May, depending upon the weather. The facility, located near the Bay City State Park, offers ice cream, batting cages, go-karts, and miniature golf.

“We do a lot with schools, libraries, and summer reading programs at Dutch Village,” she says. “We partner a lot.”
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.