Leelanau Business Expo Speech by Rick Lahmann

< April 30, 2008 >


At this time of year, everyone in Leland, Michigan is busy getting ready for the summer season.† Some seasonal businesses have been open since mid-April; some never closed at all.† There was a time when businesses opened for Memorial Day Weekend, and closed after Labor Day.† Those days ended a couple decades ago, and this is one of the messages we have to get out in our marketing.† Many people still donít realize this.† A few years back, I used to tell the media that, ďthe general rule of thumb, was that, by Motherís Day Weekend, most businesses were open, most of the timeĒ.† In recent years, this seems to be happening a week earlier than that.† - - -† Its not that we are going to be overwhelmed with customers during those early weeks.† Its that we have so much to do in order to get ready; both at our own businesses, and around the village.

This is especially important considering the possibility of a slight downturn in the national economy this year.† For a few years, some people have said that we were in a recession whether this was true, or not...yet the people still came to the Leelanau Peninsula.† For a few years now, people have complained of high gas prices, even though they were not high when adjusted for inflation...yet people still came to visit Leelanau Peninsula.† The question is...will it be better, or worse, this summer, in Leelanau?† I am optimistic.† Leelanau is the ďUp NorthĒ that people come to see.† I believe that Leelanau, and my friends in Leland can have a great year in 2008.† That is, if we continue both our advertising and our marketing...and if we make the place look as good as possible.† We donít know what this season will bring, but it is certain, that if we prepare less, if we let quality slip, or if we stock up less, ..that we will, then, sell less.† We canít let the predictions of the doom-sayers, become a self-fulfilling prophesy.† The doom-sayers can have a recession.† I choose not to participate.

The Leland Chamber of Commerce spends 60% of its budget on advertising and marketing.† We have to get the people here.† But it is also important that our visitors go home saying good things about us.† We are working on this as well.† Planting and trimming trees, planting flowers, getting rid of the weeds, watering the grass, making sure that the property each of us controls, as well as the general scenic beauty and infrastructure of the area...all looks great...this is all necessary for our economic success.

The Leelanau Peninsula is one of those rare places which really is different from other locations.† Our villages are unique from each other, and unique from what is found in other areas.† As of yet, our villages do now sprawl into each other; and I challenge our local government officials to insure that it remains this way.† The Leelanau Peninsula is a beautiful and wonderful place.† But there are other beautiful locations as well.† These places would be known as Our Competition.† Our visitors must go home not only being impressed with Leelanau, but they must go home being more impressed than they were with other places they have visited.

During the summer, most Leland businesses will be in our 7-day-per-week mode, and we will do this through the end of October.† During the summer months, hours at many Leland businesses are from 9:30 or so in the morning to 9:00 or 10:00 at night...seven days per week.† I have been told that years ago, it was often much later than 10:00 p.m.† Evening is a great time to be open.† It is a fun time to interact with the people, and sales are pretty good as well.† It does take years though, to make this successful.† The potential customers wonít learn in just half a summer, that the town is open and full of fun during these evening hours.† And its not just about the tourist visitors to the area.† Local residents enjoy this too.† From retail, to restaurants, to boating businesses...we do our best to improve the community, and the community experience, for everyone.

For the 2008 summer, Leland will again host a Summer Music Series on Wednesday evenings, and a Leelanau Farmersí Market on Thursday mornings.† Our Wine & Food Festival is June 14, July 3 and 4 have our fireworks and parade, and our Heritage Celebration is the third Saturday in September.† We also have high hopes that our Marina will finally get its facilities upgrade beginning in September. This will be the first upgrade to the Leland Marina since it was constructed in the late 1960s.

Leland has almost 50 retail locations.† We currently have all but 2 filled for the 2008 season. In addition, we have two banks, at least 6 professional offices, 3 gas stations (one on the land, and two on the water) at least 8 recreation providers, and at least 9 food purveyors.† About 90% of Leland businesses are members of the Leland Chamber of Commerce, more than 50% of them help out with various projects of the Leland Chamber, and around 25% have donated funds beyond their membership fees in recent years to enhance our community or to extend our advertising.† We have a great group of people and businesses in Leland.† I thank them.


...Rick Lahmann, President (2002-2012), Leland Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

Copyright; Rick Lahmann, 2008 - 2014