The Big Green Egg and staff at Herman’s Boy made this year’s Grillapalooza a popular and well-attended event, despite a weather prediction of possible snow flurries and blowing rain. Members of the Rockford Sportsman’s Club were on hand to talk about the Junior Olympic Archery Program and plenty of residents tasted samples of turkey and pork with a large variety of sauces. There were also wood-fired pizza demonstrations and a little green egg hunt for the kiddies. The event was held on Saturday, May 8 at Herman’s Boy, 220 old Northland Drive, Rockford.
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL The sun had not yet risen last Saturday morning when long-time Rockford resident, Tom Rademacher, found himself ensconced comfortably at a table in front of the Coffee Ranch counter at Herman’s Boy. A regular at Herman’s Boy, Rademacher had been invited by his close friend, the store’s owner Floyd Havemeier, to hold a book-signing for the recently released “Splitting Wood” authored by Rademacher himself. After retiring last year from a 31-year career at the Grand Rapids Press, the last 21 years as a columnist, Rademacher chose and compiled his 100 favorite columns from the over 3,100 he had written into a first book. “Tom is one of Rockford’s treasures,” said Havemeier. “People were lined up outside the front door even before we opened this morning at 7:30 a.m.” Responding to the book-signing event that had been announced earlier in the week in both The Rockford Squire and the Grand Rapids Press, everyone wanted a copy of the book personally signed by the singularly popular award-winning columnist. The book is a compelling and uplifting easy read. They are the stories, for the most part, of everyday people authored by an everyday kind of guy. In a time when it seems that all one hears and reads in the media is economic gloom and doom, governmental dysfunction, and sky-is-falling weather forecasts, the columns featured in “Splitting Wood” are a breath of fresh air. The book is composed of 10 chapters in which the columns are categorized into 10 one-word titles, interestingly enough, all beginning with the letter L, opening with Life and moving on to Lilt, Legacies, Lore, Loss, Labels, Leagues, Losers, Lessons and ending, of course, with Love. There is something for every reader and leaves us, at the book’s conclusion, hoping that in the future other books may follow. There were a limited number of books left as the signing ended, and Rademacher personally signed each of those. They are available for sale at the front counter of West Michigan’s popular and eclectic Herman’s Boy, located at 220 Old Northland Drive in Rockford. A portion of the sale of each book goes to the Santa Claus Girls.
Family business celebrates 30 years When Floyd Havemeier purchased his first building in downtown Rockford, he had no intention of opening up his own shop, much less starting a family dynasty in Herman’s Boy, a roastery, bakery, confectionery and smokehouse located at 220 Northland Drive. Now his store employs three generations of the family, has a total staff of 20 and is in the 30th year of operation. “It’s hard to talk about how good things are when so many people are having a hard time,” Havemeier said. “It’s not that we work hard, lots of people work hard and it doesn’t work out for them. It’s timing and blessings.” Havemeier said he was working in the insurance industry when he purchased the building at 63 Courtland, now Aunt Candy’s Toy Company, as an investment. As Havemeier became familiar with the town and its shops, he thought it might be nice to have a business where his wife Sharon and kids could work while he was away long hours at his job. Havemeier said he was often out of town Monday through late Friday and had to work from his office Saturdays. He didn’t see much of his family. He thought a little shop might be nice for them. It was 1979 and things in Rockford were different than today. Back then Harvest Festival was only one weekend and it was sponsored by the Squire’s Street merchants association. There were just as many stores, but more of the merchants made what they sold. Havemeier’s kids were young—Jeff, the oldest, was 17, Doug was 15, Heidi was ten or 11 and Brian was five or six. “People who want to have a business of their own think about what they are willing to put into it, not what it is necessary to put into it,” he said. “They think about what they owe their family, what they owe their children. I think one thing you owe them is to support them.” In the beginning, the business, then the Melting Pot, sold hand-made items such as children’s clothing and other small products. Havemeier had heard of a buisiness that was going under, the Coffee Ranch, and purchased it, so the shop sold coffee as well. “I kept […]
by BETH ALTENA With changes guaranteed to come to downtown with the closing of the Wolverine tannery, one Rockford merchant has a vision he believes would benefit Rockford. Herman’s Boy’s Floyd Havemeier is an idea guy, and he believes now may be the right timing for consideration of an arts and convention center for Rockford. “People have a yearning for nostalgia and history and we have such a rich history here,” Havemeier said. He believes a center with room for art shows, musical performances and historic and art displays would draw crowds. He also believes such a facility could be self-supporting. Havemeier is also willing to put some money where his mouth is and said he is in a position to purchase a 100-year-old carousel he would donate. At a recent Rotary meeting, members of the Rockford Historical Society were invited to hear from Dale Robertson, president and CEO of the Grand Rapids Public Museum. He told the audience that museums offer much to communities and can be a boon to business and residents. He said, although museums rarely pay for themselves, they are an attractant. In 2007 museums brought in $2.2 billion in revenue to Kent County. Rockford already has a beautiful small museum located by the dam in a historic building (without water or plumbing). It is staffed by volunteers from the Rockford Historical Society. At one time an expansion was planned at a cost of $700,000, but funding was unavailable. Havemeier hopes for a center that could house the Historic Society, but much more. “A town that sells its history sells itself,” Havemeier stated. He said Rockford should and could promote the town’s lumber heritage, Indian heritage, shoe and tanning history as well as the arts. He pointed out the town is home to a world-class duck carver, nationally-known artists, and could do better promoting fishing and outdoor activities. He believes the proximity of Rockford to Grand Rapids would make it an ideal day trip to any number of organizations. Visits could be educational or for entertainment, as in concerts. “Tie it all up with a day shopping on the town,” he suggested. City Manger Michael Young said the concept is nice, but would be expensive. “We looked into this for the […]
Dear Editor, As I reflect on the past thirty years here in Rockford, I marvel at the way I and my family have been blessed. Back in 1979, interest rates were high at 18 percent and more. Every store front in town was full. Barb Stein was already here at the same location (Great Northern Trading) and Baskets in the Belfry was upstairs in the old barn mall. The Hotdog Hall of Fame was known far and wide. The Barn Mall was in front of Great Northern Trading, and leaned to the north. Many thought it would fall over any day. People, old people, would come on busses and complain about high prices. Why, coffee had reached 25 cents a cup in some places! Hundreds of businesses have come and gone in these past thirty years. The Cookery Nook, O’Fudge and the Outdoor Cook all became part of our store. People still complain about high prices, especially old people. Young people like to point out their sophistication and let us know how things are done on the West Coast. My oldest sons, Jeff and Doug, were in high school, and have worked with Sharon and myself from opening day. Heidi was in junior high and Bryan was starting second grade. All are now married and still are able to make a living at our store. The other day, a sophisticated lady complained that Heidi’s six-year-old daughter was behind the counter. Well, all of our grandchildren have grown up with our business. Andy, the oldest, works full time. Michael and Ashley work part-time while in school. All of my business life, I have dreamed about a farmstead location. To have been given this is not a reward from hard work, but a blessing from our Lord. Now, to the point, it is not buildings, it is what goes on in buildings. People must be able to serve and produce things, thereby making a living. It’s business that makes a location, not the other way around. Anyone who knows me, knows I love history. When it’s possible to make use of old buildings, it helps preserve some of our history. However, if we go back to the beginning of Rockford, and all insisted that things remain the […]