Cherry Republic confirms new Ann Arbor store as it expands from Up North to Main Street
February was National Cherry month, but April will be the month to celebrate it in Ann Arbor.
Cherry Republic, a Michigan-based retailer established in 1989, will be expanding the cherry empire to the streets of Ann Arbor, its owner confirms. The new location will be at 223 S. Main St., the location at the corner of Main and Liberty that, until recently, housed Occasionally Gift Shop.
“We’re excited,” owner and founder Bob Sutherland says about the newest Michigan store.
Sutherland says he took about four trips to Ann Arbor over the past six months, meeting with many local merchants, property owners, and officials.
"I personally love the city and look forward to spending time enjoying the city when I am not working; and meeting its citizens while I am working.” He says Ann Arbor has an entirely different feel than the other three Cherry Republic locations, all of which share the common company tagline: Life, Liberty, Beaches, and Pie.
Sutherland sees Ann Arbor as similar to a metropolitan area with a much larger population.
“A lot of people come to Ann Arbor, and this is their Michigan experience. There is a great opportunity for people to learn and engage; Michigan is home to the number one cherry growing region in the world. Cherries are our state's signature fruit, our signature product.”
Cherry Republic playfully states its mission as the peaceful advancement of the world's greatest fruit, the cherry. And that it does with products such as Chocolate Covered Cherries, Cherry Salsa, Cherry BBQ sauce, Cherry Jam, Cherry Jelly, Cherry Wine, Cherry Baked Goods, Cherry Cookies, Cherry Brownies, Cherry Soda Pop — more than 170 different cherry products.
The company currently does about 40 percent of its business online, but Sutherland feels the Ann Arbor storefront’s strategic location along with its new face and approach will make it a targeted destination on Main Street. He plans to keep the shop open late, “even if we break even,” noting that the Traverse City store is often open until 10 or 11 p.m. during its busy summer season.
Sutherland also shared what he feels to be his secret to success: generosity. He said visitors to the Ann Arbor store can expect plenty of tastings.
"We expect to give away over $10,000 worth of samples.” Sutherland insists that the generosity does not stop there, however. Over the last several years, Cherry Republic has committed to donating “1 percent off the top” to support local farmland preservation efforts as well as quality of life and environmental efforts.
Currently, Cherry republic has 90 fulltime equivalent positions, and Sutherland plans to hire 12 employees for the Ann Arbor store by its projected opening date of April 25.
Lead Shopping Contributor Angie Smith will hunt for deals and dish on the latest in retail and business news in Ann Arbor. Readers will attain notices of great deals and store happenings in and around the city. To report a news item or tip contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.