The Crossover Effect: Businesses in Little Traverse, Grand Traverse areas look for customers across the globe and in one another’s backyards

HaystacksWhile the rise of online shopping has made the world a global marketplace, local businesses still find it profitable to reach out to their neighbors. That’s true whether those neighbors are across town or an hour or two away.

In the case of the Grand Traverse and Little Traverse areas, there is more of that than one might expect.

Numerous businesses have storefronts in both locations, while others find it profitable to look north or south, as the case may be, for a broader customer base.

Such stores as Haystacks, Horizon Books, American Spoon Foods, Fustini’s Oils and Vinegars, and the Sunglass Shoppe are among those which have outlets in both locations.

“We do get crossover store to store,” said Robin Bennett, owner of the Sunglasses Shoppe stores in Petoskey, Charlevoix and Traverse City. “I find a lot of people from Traverse City like to come to Petoskey.”

Haystacks has had such success with customers from the Little Traverse region coming to its stores in the Grand Traverse area it is opening a new location in Petoskey. Owner Lizzi Lambert said it is not uncommon for customers to visit all of its Leelanau County locations, and she expects Traverse City customers will visit the Elk Rapids Haystacks and then just continue on up the road to Petoskey to take a look.

Others are located in one place but reach to the other. Northern Lightning Wash is based in Traverse City, but the mobile vehicle-washing company services fleets across the region. Owner Nate Farrier said his service goes as far north as the Mackinac Bridge, and he is able to work with clients throughout the region depending on that day’s route.

“I’ll put together a route and look for a customer I can wash on those days,” he said.

Among his customers are FedEx, Charter, American Waste, Team Elmer’s and Emmet County Recycling.

Sandra Lee, who runs her own photography studio in Petoskey, recently packed up her lights and lenses and traveled south to shoot professional corporate photos for Integrity Medical Management Solutions. She had previously worked with its Petoskey office, and they asked her to do the same for members of its Traverse City operation. She hopes to use that experience and exposure to gain additional customers “down south.”


Carlin Smith, president of the Petoskey Area Chamber of Commerce, said he sees a cooperative effort benefiting all the businesses in the region.

“As a chamber of commerce, we like to think regionally in our work, and we recognize that what is good for the Traverse City area is also good for Petoskey and vice versa,” he said. “We have several businesses from Traverse City who are members of the Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce because they are doing business here and recognize the Petoskey area as an opportunity to expand their market. I know that there are Petoskey businesses doing work in Traverse City, as well.”

Smith noted that many of those businesses are service providers, such as the Larkin Group (insurance) and Dennis, Gartland, & Niergarth (accounting).  Others include construction-related firms like Burdco Inc. and hospitality businesses like By the Bay Transportation and Discovery Map.


Mike Norton from Traverse City Tourism said he and Peter Fitzsimons, his counterpart at the Petoskey-Harbor Springs-Boyne Country Convention and Visitors Bureau, often target the same audience for their mutual benefit.

“We work together to entice people from other places to visit both our places,” he said.

Colleen Paveglio, marketing and deputy director of the Downtown Development Authority in Traverse City, said she helped advise Petoskey when it was looking to duplicate the success of Traverse City’s Restaurant Week. Like Norton and Fitzsimons, she said they work well together.

Now Petoskey Restaurant Week is advertised in Traverse City-centric media as well as geographically-targeted social media. “This is a natural audience for us, and we have had Traverse City people tell us they come to the event,” said Becky Goodman, Downtown Director for the City of Petoskey Downtown Management Board.

Business-to-business work also helps spread the cooperative efforts. Beard’s Brewery (Petoskey) works exclusively with Grand Traverse Distillery for its barrel aging program, and sells Great Lakes Potato Chips (Traverse City) and Northwoods Soda (Williamsburg).

The proliferation of wineries and microbreweries in both locations means oenophiles and beer lovers have choices in both directions.

And don’t forget the arts. Concerts at Interlochen and Milliken Auditorium regularly draw patrons from the north, while the same is true at Boyne City’s Freshwater Gallery and Petoskey’s Bay View.

Crooked Tree Arts Center, a staple of the Petoskey area arts scene, opened a second location in Traverse City nearly two years ago. Its merger with ArtCenter Traverse City has enabled it to offer exhibits, classes, lectures and events like wine-tastings in both locations, drawing art lovers from one locale to the other.