Country store in Wisner Twp. stands through various owners

Jerry Walkowski, owner of The Log Cabin Country Store, 6472 M-25, Akron, picks bait out of a sink at the store Tuesday morning. Walkowski bought the store in June 2015 and plans to make the store into a predominately Michigan-brand product business. (Photo by John Cook).
Jerry Walkowski, owner of The Log Cabin Country Store, 6472 M-25,
Akron, picks bait out of a sink at the store Tuesday morning.
Walkowski bought the store in June 2015 and plans to make the store
into a predominately Michigan-brand product business. (Photo by John
Cook).

Not many places in Tuscola County can claim to offer six stores in one, but a business in Wisner Township can.
The Log Cabin Country Store has a gas station, grocery store, deli, souvenir shop bait shop, and restaurant all in one place at 6472 M-25.
Jerry Walkowski, owner of the Log Cabin Country Store, bought the business in June 2015. Walkowski said for a long time he had the desire to be an owner of a business without knowing for sure what he wanted to own.
After more than 29 years at his previous job, a corporate position at Ferguson Plumbing in Saginaw, Walkowski was sick with an abdominal infection causing him to take eight month’s off. The time away caused him to question if he wanted to go back into the corporate world.
Walkowski said he was approached by the former owners, Ralph and Anne Hoppe, of Log Cabin to take over their business.
“I love it,” said Walkowski about being owner of the Log Cabin. “It’s like jumping in a new car and looking out a brand new windshield. I’m finally meeting all my neighbors and friends, so yeah, it’s great. I truly enjoy it.”
The store offers souvenir candles and T-shirts, a line of grocery items, Sunoco-brand petroleum, pre-made deli sandwiches, bait for fishing and is a restaurant offering breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Walkowski said the Log Cabin has been around longer than he has been alive. The 58-year-old said the business was a log cabin, as its name implies, along M-25. He said some octogenarian residents remember the store from childhood.
Walkowski currently has 12 employees: two full-time managers – one in the kitchen and the other in the store – and 10 part-time workers.
Roberta Smith, a kitchen employee at the business, was a long-time customer before becoming an employee.
“Walkowski really great to work with,” said Smith. “I think he’s very patient, he’s courteous – and he’s very courteous to his customers. Treats them with respect.”
Currently, Walkowski’s goal is to turn the Log Cabin into a store that carries brands predominantly made in Michigan.
By 2019, he hopes to sell at least 60 percent Michigan products. Currently, Walkowski said about 15 percent of the store’s inventory comes from Michigan and includes brands such as Uncle Ray’s and Better Made Potato Chips, both based in Detroit.
Other Michigan brands the store carries are Dearborn Sausage Co. Michigan Sugar and Kar’s Nuts, which is based in Madison Heights.
Walkowski said he wants to use the same approach for souvenir gifts.
“We’re moving toward a full Michigan store as best as we possibly can, but we have to have quality.”
Walkowski said in the next 10 years, he sees himself working at the store and hasn’t thought of doing anything else after or in place of it.
“I really don’t know – I never gave it a thought,” said Walkowski. “This is long term for me. I’m thinking I would like to pass it down to one of my employees. Someone who would like to have this as a career – someone who would like to own his own business – that would be my plan. My kids are going to have their career going. They’re not going to want to come back into the business.” IMG_0099 (1)
Caitlin Schoenow, an employee at the Log Cabin, knew the Walkowski family through Jerry’s wife, Diane Walkowski, who was one of her teachers at Reese Public Schools.
Schoenow said the atmosphere in the store was a driving factor in her eventual employment.
“Every time I went in there, it was a real happy place,” said Schoenow. “It just feels like a positive environment.”
Schoenow has worked at the Log Cabin since April, starting off as a cook in the kitchen, but has recently started at the cash register. She said she enjoys both the human interaction of working at the register as well as cooking. For her, Schoenow said she was just looking for a job for the summer, but because of the comfort she felt at the Log Cabin, decided to stay on.
“They just became family,” Schoenow added. “I love it.”
The Log Cabin opens around 5:45 a.m. and closes at 9 p.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. on weekends during the fall and winter months. During the spring and summer, hours are 5:45 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day.
Debanina Seaton is a reporter for The Advertiser and can be reached at debanina@tcadvertiser.com.

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