Six decades ago, in March of 1949, the Glen Lake Resort & Business Bureau was established to promote civic, social, cultural and business interests in the Glen Lakes area. Once sleepy Glen Arbor grew as a tourist destination in the post-war years, and local businesses needed an organization to promote their commercial enterprises. The Bureau changed its name to the Glen Lake Chamber of Commerce in 1964 and has promoted this area ever since.
Today, the Chamber is an important portal for information, commerce and events not just in Glen Arbor but all over southern Leelanau County. Check out the Chamber’s aptly named website, www.visitglenarbor.com, and you’ll find updates on the Narrows Bridge closing, a sampling of upcoming events, photos of past festivities by Chamber photographer and webmaster Joanne Rettke, a wedding resource page and a helpful business directory on the left-hand side of the page.
The Glen Lake Chamber of Commerce currently boasts 172 members, and that tally has grown exponentially in the last five years. Dune Wear owner David Marshall is the Chamber’s president; Cottonseed owner Ann Oberschulte is vice president; Sunset Glen Resort’s Pat Alonzi is secretary and Art’s Bonnie Nescot is treasurer. As you might imagine, the Chamber’s board of directors features a who’s who of local business owners. Several times a week Marge Ives emails crucial updates about local events, Chamber meetings and — this summer especially — the Chamber’s kiosk at the Glen Arbor Garden.
Marshall wrote in an email message that his most gratifying moments as Chamber President are “meeting all the people I get to meet. There are fantastic people in this community and I utterly enjoy getting to know them. Making relationships is far more important than any actual business we conduct.
“The (Glen Arbor Garden) is a big example of the entire community … working together,” he continued. “It’s just incredible to me how much gets done by our Chamber, particularly given that it’s an entirely volunteer organization. Most Chambers hire someone to do a lot of the day-to-day work, and I believe we should as well, but for now we “get ‘er done” by everyone pitching in.”
Sixty years of legacy
The legacy of the Glen Lake Resort & Business Bureau’s original organizers and their numerous business interests continues to this day. The first President was Dexter Seeburger of Seeburger’s Marina, which was located on the Crystal River and Fisher Road. The marina sold, serviced and stored classic wooden boats such as Chris Craft, Century and Thomson boats. The marina was accessed through the Fisher Lakes and the Crystal River. Boaters could fill their tanks with gasoline at gas pumps on docks on the riverbanks.
Other founders of the Bureau, and later the Chamber, include William and Helen Peppler, Ken Drumbrille, Vince Ecarius, John Dorsey and Jack and Mary Rader.
William and Helen Peppler operated Glen View Resort on Dunn’s Farm Road on the east shore of Big Glen Lake. They purchased the former Glen Lake Country Club during World War II and immediately after the war, built several cottages. Their advertising in the early years of the resort featured modern conveniences with running water and electricity.
The Peppler family continues to rent Birchdale, one of the cottages formerly owned by William’s parents. Birchdale, built in 1941, is featured in Barbara Siepker’s book Historic Cottages of Glen Lake (Leelanau Press, 2008, and featured in the Glen Arbor Sun on June 12, 2008).
Ken Drumbrille owned and operated the Riverside Shop, a women’s clothing store located on the banks of the Crystal River in Glen Arbor. Now known as the Black Swan in the Village Sampler Plaza, the store has changed owners, names and locations and, like the Chamber, has been in continual operation for 60 years.
Vince Ecarius owned and operated an antiques store in the Traverse City region. He had a great love for this area and vacationed in his cottage on the Glen Lakes.
John Dorsey was an electrician with Kieft and Dorsey Custom Builders and worked in the Leelanau County Inspections department. He owned and operated the Dorsey’s Trailer Park. The park is located on the family homestead on Little Glen Lake, which was settled by his father, John H. Dorsey in the 1850s. This past February, the community said goodbye to John, 91 years old, the last survivor of the Chamber’s founders.
Jack and Mary Rader owned and operated Rader’s, a gift and sundries shop. The store featured baskets and jewelry from local Indian tribe members, gifts, souvenirs and periodical sections. Many kids frequented the store in search of the large comics selection, many of which they read while in the store. Rader’s gift store opened during World War II as the Glen Arbor Gift Shop, and was run by Helen Rader Peppler, while her brother Jack served in the Navy. From their store, the Raders assisted visitors looking for lodging and acted as a clearinghouse for lodging establishments that had vacancies.
The original founders are all gone now. But they laid the groundwork for future generations to dream of working and living in this beautiful community.
The Chamber has sponsored countless events, beginning with a parade celebrating Glen Arbor centennial in 1956. The early 1960s witnessed at least two archery festivals, according to Empire historian Dave Taghon, and a parade in downtown Glen Arbor. There were several archery ranges in the community. In 1986 the popular Glen Arbor Daze event featured an antiques show and sale in the Glen Arbor Town hall and a dance on Lake Street.
The Chamber held annual fireworks over Sleeping Bear Bay on Fourth of July weekend before discontinuing them in 1998, following a fatal fireworks accident the previous summer in nearby Charlevoix and subsequent safety concerns expressed by Fire Chief John DePuy and the Township Board (Glen Arbor Sun, July 3, 1998).
This year the Glen Lake Chamber plays a key hand in sponsoring the annual Fourth of July parade, which usually arrives in Glen Arbor at noon (the boat parade on the Glen Lakes is officially cancelled this summer on account of the Narrows Bridge closing, but Marshall said that boaters are welcome to hold their own spontaneous parade if they feel so inspired); the town-wide Glen Arbor Sidewalk Sale, Aug. 13-15; participation in the Port Oneida Fair in the Park’s Port Oneida Rural Historic District, Aug. 7-8; the second-annual BBQ & Brew festival on Sept. 19, which will feature Michigan microbrews, soda, chicken barbeque and original Elvis music; Halloween in the Village; the Pajama Party and Holiday Marketplace over Thanksgiving weekend; the Chili Cook-off and Perch Fishing Contest in February, and Girls Night Out in June.
Stop by the Chamber office at Dune Wear in the Village Sampler Plaza and thank its members for their service to the community.