When the Lake Station Trailhead was built in 2018, a key access point for the 56 mile-long Pere Marquette State Trail, its completion followed a five year-long journey
of studies, grant applications, and more studies and grant applications. The village of Lake is a small one — “We’re a one-block town, really,” says Garfield Township Supervisor Dave Byl — located within Garfield Township
and sometimes still referred to by its original name, Lake Station. But the Trailhead project was as big a project as the village has seen, successfully transforming Lake from a rail town to a trail town. And the village is still utilizing lessons learned from those aforementioned studies. The latest? A standalone pop-up shop nears completion at the Trailhead entrance, soon to be filled with local artists, makers, farmers, and more.
Local stakeholders, including area high school students, are putting the finishing touches on the 10 ft. by 20 ft. pop-up space now found at the Trailhead
, with paint and electrical work expected to be completed in two weeks’ time. The pop-up space was recommended as a way to help incubate small businesses in the area. Two more pop-up spaces could even be built in the historic depot nearby, Byl says.
Byl anticipates leasing the space to local artists and crafters throughout the summer, and hopes to have some local farmers in there for the fall.
“I’ve already had a few inquiries but we haven’t gotten too deep into leasing the space. I want to wait until we’re done building it to show people what we’re working with,” says Byl. “We’re going to go to some art fairs and pick out some people that might do really well here.”
Why it’s important:
Since Lake is a “one-block town,” there’s not a lot of commercial buildings available to work with, and the pop-up space provides a low-cost entry point for area entrepreneurs. Byl says that rent will be $50 per day: “We’re not land developers looking for revenue here.” The pop-up space also gives tourists another reason to stop in Lake, be it by way of the Pere Marquette State Trail or U.S. Hwy 10.
What else is planned:
That’s not all that’s happening in Lake. Work continues on restoring the historic depot and wayfaring signs and a public art installation are also on their way. Byl credits grants from the Clare County Community Foundation and the USDA with helping make such projects possible.
What they’re saying:
“At the end of the day, I want to present a retail opportunity for people here. We’re also looking at having food trucks,” says Byl. “But we have to be careful because we’re a very small community; we can’t get in over our heads. That’s why these grants are so important.”