The local economy has seen its share of good and bad, but for more than two decades one Newberry store has stood strong and been a true testament to Newberry's title as the moose capitol of Michigan.
Sharon and William Magnuson have been in business for 25 years. Their first store, The Country Gallery, began by offering rustic products, as well as floral and tuxedo rentals.
"There was a need for another gift shop in this area," Sharon Magnuson said.
The interior of The Exclusive Moose in Newberry. The store hosts a number of log furniture from dressers to beds, tables, recliners and more. (Photos courtesy of Rebecca Pillion)
As the store grew, the owners realized they needed more space. This led to the opening of the U.P. Trading Co., which has been in business for 15 years. Since they opened the doors, the store has continued to draw in new customers and keep patrons returning each year.
To celebrate being the moose capitol of Michigan, the Magnusons sell many products that have a moose-theme, such as jewelry, clothing, accessories and pottery. Other items include books, U.P. travel and tourism information, antiques, lighting and decorative lamps and wedding and prom packages on tuxedo rentals. They also help support local artists and producers by selling Michigan-made art and food, like jams and syrups.
"We are always looking for the best for our customers," Magnuson said. "We want people to be wow'ed when they walk through our doors."
To keep customers coming back for more, furniture became a new hot item two years ago. What began with a few smaller pieces, transformed into larger log furniture.
"We have log furniture to furnish an entire household," Magnuson said. "From log dressers to recliners, tables and beds. It's a wide variety and I don't think there is anything quite like our store in the U.P."
The furniture is provided by Best Craft Great Northern Furniture out of Wisconsin. In addition, some Michigan artists provide furniture for the store.
As the demand for the furniture began to rise, it left little space at the U.P. Trading Co. To remedy this, the owners purchased the building next door and last October, the Exclusive Moose opened for business.
"It has been very well-received and we were overwhelmed with the response we got," Magnuson said. "People love our furniture and they love that it's made locally."
She said despite mid-October being a time when most people are closing summer homes and camps for the winter, the store was busy throughout the winter for the upcoming summer season.
"We have so many repeat customers and they help spread the word," Magnuson said.
She noted that she has seen people from as far away as California who know about the store.
Magnuson added that people are always worried, due to the unstable economy, that they will come back the next year and find that the store has closed.
"We're always here," she said. "And the key to that is diversity. We're always changing and adding on and traveling to discover new products that we can sell."
Magnuson said she believes people return each year because they are curious to see what will be new and different.
Both stores not only offer quality products, but quality service as well, Magnuson said.
"We really like people and they seem to like us. Simple as that. We meet a lot of new people and we enjoy talking with them. We treat this not as a job, but as a passion."
Magnuson said she has had customers in the past who will come in when they're feeling down or having a bad day, and who have said coming into the store makes them feel better.
Magnuson attributes this to a caring staff that includes six part-time employees, including both Sharon and William Magnuson during the winter months, and about eight part-time employees during the summer months.
"I think we put together a store that has so many different products that we've brought together and we make it work," Magnuson said.
Going forward, she hopes they will be able to build up a larger clientele.
"This is so important, because our downtown has a lot of empty buildings," Magnuson said. "We need to keep the community shopping here for local products. We need to serve the local people."
The store is located at 223 Newberry Avenue. To learn more about the business, call 906-293-4259.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This feature is part of a paid advertising package purchased by Sharon and William Magnuson of U.P. Trading Co. and Exclusive Moose of Newberry. Businesses interested in being featured on the In Business page may call Larry Doyle at 228-2500, extension 258.