Submitted by Katherine Bussard

( Photo Provided – Artisan items in the store include tops and purses like the ones on the mannequin made by women rescued from human trafficking (one of the only non-local makers), and many handcrafted items by local artists right here in Eaton County.)


Charlotte native Katie Bussard has big dreams for her new business, Michigan’s Mercantile, opening June 23, 2023 at 634 W. Lawrence Avenue, in the storefront previously filled by Donuts & Dog Treats. The general store/makers market serves as a sort of business incubator and year-round marketplace for local artisans and farmers, offering a wide variety of handcrafted goods, local meats, honey, maple syrup, Amish baked goods, and more.

Katie has been an artist all her life, often taking inspiration from her horses. During the pandemic, the family-owned business she worked at for many years had to lay off all their employees, and Katie decided to chart her own course as an artist. She began making art by repurposing used horseshoes from her equine friends, turning them into beautiful beaded suncatchers, wall art, and more. Soon, her line of creative décor products grew and she became a regular at farmers markets and art fairs around West Michigan. Another artist from Charlotte suggested that she check out Donuts to Dog Treats as a place to sell her art and designs in the off season. Katie met Erica, the owner, and started out as a vendor before being hired to assist in daily operations. Over time, Katie assumed more responsibility as Erica devoted more time to the care of her elderly father, who is battling Alzheimer’s. As Erica slowly came to the realization that she either needed to sell the store or close it, she approached Katie about taking over and making it her own. It was spring 2023, and the store changed ownership and did a soft opening in May, while many changes were still underway. “I was really lucky that Erica left me a turn-key business to carry on her vision, but she still gave me the freedom to make it my own,” Katie shared.

“I made a lot of phone calls to my mom—asking if she thought I could do this,” Katie said. “She has been my biggest champion every step of the way and I owe her so much. She knew that I could have taken the easy road and made more money as a vendor at different markets and art shows, but she also knew that having a store like this was my dream, and with this store, I can help others achieve their dreams too. I’m so grateful for her support, Erica’s and my vendors, and all the people who have helped keep this dream alive.” Katie explained that what the store brings to the Charlotte Community, “sustainable local agriculture and a year—round marketplace for makers” mean something to her and to so many of the vendors. “There’s nothing else like it in Charlotte,” she said.

For many artists and local farmers, their relationship with the store is an important part of their income and a strategic place where they can grow their business, but it is also a family. Robin, who raises succulents and other potter plants for Michigan’s Mercantile, was so glad the store was not closing and told Katie that through the ups and downs, that “the store is the best thing in my life right now.” She is able to share her green thumb and love for living things with customers who truly appreciate them. For Robin and many of the makers, the store is more like a family. Another vendor, Sak Saum, sells stylish clothing, purses, and accessories made by women rescued from human trafficking, using job creation as a tool to support impoverished women and their children in freedom with fair wages. While Sak Saum is the only non-local maker, the quality goods are stocked by a local volunteer and Eaton County resident, Shari Kissane, who has been an anti-trafficking activist for more than a decade. Being a part of Michigan’s Mercantile opens the door for regular support of the humanitarian cause and gives Shari a new platform to share about ways everyday people can work to end modern-day slavery.

Every vendor, maker, and farmer at Michigan’s Mercantile has a unique story and offers something truly original. Whether you are looking to support a local farmer, purchase ethically sourced goods, or want to find that perfect, one-of-a-kind gift, Michigan’s Mercantile is worth the visit. Katie explained, “Every vendor we have can customize things to create something truly unique and meaningful for the customer. It means a lot to us to know that we provide the best quality and the best service to our customers.” While the legacy and spirit of Donuts to Dog Treats lives on at Michigan’s Mercantile, with change comes new ideas and vision. More than half the makers are new since the store changed hands, and the offerings continue to grow and expand. In the future, the store hopes to offer DIY classes, specialty pop-up markets, and more. Their Facebook and Instagram pages, @MichigansMercantile, are the best way to stay up to date on special events, like the grand opening and ribbon cutting happening Friday, June 23, at 10 a.m., with the help of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. Katie is grateful for their support and the support of the community. She said, “There’s a deep sense of satisfaction in what we do. We are here for the community, and we can do what we do every day because the community is here for us too.”