There is more to “open for business” than “open” at Put-in-Bay during the winter months. What does that mean? It means island residents can count on a positive disposition, a sincere willingness to assist the consumer, and a friendly interaction with clerks and customers on a broad range of topics–weather to be sure, but also personal experiences and outlooks.
On Thursday afternoon, PiBDaily visited the following locations which consistently serve customers during the off-season. Wharfside/Topsy-Turvey and Old Forge were not open today, but each locale provides service during the winter. There, as in the places that were open today, one realizes a welcoming atmosphere.
Click on any image for the enlarged view! Photography by Donna Steinbach
U.S. Post Office – 43456
JR and Jessica always have a bounce in their step and kindly retrieve your mail if you have forgotten your mailbox key. Both are expert at finishing package wrapping in the manner required by the Postal Service. Be sure to ask about the sheet stamps–there are great options like Hot Wheels! When asked for a comment about winter service, JR responded, “Like always, open as usual; mail delivered!”
Island Hardware Store
Jason Cooper manned the store today–brother Chris was on civic duty for the Township. The brothers always offer cheerful directions to the exact location where one can find the bolt, paint cleaner, lumber, tape–you get the point! Moreover, their free advice on do-it-yourself projects includes no false or misleading information. If they know it, they will help; if they don’t, the gentlemen will point you in the right direction without the proverbial screen door. Said Jason, “Been going pretty good this winter. People can find their household goods.”
Tony Kowalski’s smile sets the mood at Pit Stop, though he sheepishly declined a photo opportunity. Whether one needs a refreshing beverage or a steaming cup of java, whether one desires a smoked sausage with the works or something crunchy, whether one needs to resupply the tackle box, or whether the need for automobile/ATV/snowmobile fuel arises, a fast, friendly pit stop is precisely what you get.
Erica welcomed us the second we entered Reel Bar and put the accent on the friendly warmth of ol’ Tony’s Place. She wasn’t offended when we didn’t request a table, drink, or treat from the satisfying menu. Rather, we were invited to make ourselves at home. Julene, Katie, and Jake appeared quite content with their lunch break! Jake shared he was,”Glad there’s ice!” Julene added,”Hey, it’s 4°, we’re going out!” Reel Bar hosts the weekly Wednesday night Euchre Tournament–an Island favorite event.
Island General Store
An all-seasons favorite, the General Store remains the only grocery service for ice-bound islanders. Fresh milk, fruit, salads, and the whole spectrum of dry goods are at one’s fingertips. Newspapers arrive whenever the airplanes do, and the bulletin board serves as a convenient way to discover the odd item for sale. You can’t visit the store without a nice chat at the register, and one generally meets a neighbor or two or three while there. Oh, and yes, they stock TOFT’S ice cream . . .
Island Beverage Center
The Beverage Center provides the fundamental liquid refreshments! We were lucky to encounter Mark and Frank–intrepid regulars who proudly announced, “The beer is cold and we’ve got curtains up in the shanty!” They kindly invited us to examine the only all-steel ice shanty on the island–complete with retractable wheels, snow skids, stove, insulation, and recliners. It is a masterpiece!
All’s Well that Ends Well
We closed our tour with a quick stop at the public docks. No business there but fishing business! We encountered Terry Jenkins checking the minnow carts and discovering there was much ice-pick work to do. Terry fished off the West Shore before work this morning with great success. “The water has cleared, the ice is almost 10″ thick, and we hooked some nice Walleye and one Perch,” he said.