Owners Liz Crafton and Damon Dubois celebrated more than the 1-year milestone of their business MI Rock Stop Gifts and More, LLC this past week. On Saturday they had a grand re-opening of their new, larger store at 525 N. McEwan in downtown Clare. They are in the former Her Place building, a downtown women’s clothing store well-loved for decades.
If there ever was a spot to prove the adage location, location, location for a business, next to the world-famous Cops and Doughnuts is a great place for a retail location.
Crafton and Dubois’ hobby as rockhounds and love for native Michigan stones, as well as their business background and entrepreneurial spirit created a unique store. That store was very busy on Saturday!
Cases lines the front check-out counters that make you think of a candy store. Neat trays of multicolored stones are bright and enticingly colorful but not edible. In addition to Michigan stones, they carry gemstones, fossils, crystals, and minerals from around the globe.
Crafton credits Dubois with the idea for the store. During the first part of the pandemic the pair would often take Crafton’s young daughter rock hunting. Dubois’ interest in fossils and geology began from courses he took. Rock hunting was also the perfect activity when social distancing was critical.
They would drive hours from home to hunt for rocks on Michigan beaches. Crafton asked the question, “What are we going to do with all these rocks?” She was skeptical at first when Dubois said they’d open a rock shop in Clare. They realized others would drive distances for rocks as well and Clare’s central land-locked distance from any of the Great Lakes an ideal location for collectors.
After becoming members of large Facebook rockhound, fossil, and other rock groups and learning just how important the hobby of collecting rocks, fossils and crystals can be they opened MI Rock Stop.
“In the space that we first moved into it had rooms all along the hallways and we knew as a small business start-up that we weren’t going to be able to fill such a large space, but we loved the space and the building. Again, Damon is our idea guy, and he had the idea to open it up to vendors and other small businesses.”
Crafton and Dubois kept those opportunities for other small and micro businesses. Over 20 vendors have their own space and room to sell their unique offerings in the new location. (See box.)