Suzy Barnes has made countless changes to The Sandpiper after purchasing the downtown Bridgman shop more than three years ago. Off the Water photo/CRAIG HAUPERT

Archived Story

The Sandpiper’s like nowhere else

Published 5:05pm Thursday, April 19, 2012

BRIDGMAN — Suzy Barnes has a difficult time explaining what her downtown Bridgman store, The Sandpiper, is all about.

There is so much going on it is impossible to capture it all in one sentence.

She does try.

“One of our claims to fame is there is almost nothing you can get in here that you can get anywhere else around here, which is one of the reasons we are still alive,” she said.

The majority of products in the small, but well-decorated, store are made from artisans and crafters in southwest Michigan.

One supplier, MeJ Images, makes jewelry out of photos she has taken around the world. The photos are shrunken, delicately packaged and made into earrings or necklaces. From far away they look like gemstones, but, up close, you can see a tiny picture of a dragonfly’s wing or a lake sunset.

“They are very popular,” Barnes said.

Another supplier makes bowls and rolling pins from Lake Michigan driftwood. Barnes said no two pieces are ever the same.

All of the sweaters and knitted items are made by a 79-year-old British woman, who lives in Bridgman.

The Sandpiper also carries oil paintings done on goose and turkey feathers. An 82-year-old retired computer programmer from Bridgman creates them. Even the turkey that supplies the feathers is from nearby Baroda. Its name is Tupelo.

“Almost everything in here has a bizarre story like this,” she said.

You can also find Sandpiper brand coffee, Sweet Farm Salsa made from a Benton Harbor family and Jones Berry Farm jams.

Hand-done skeins made from alpaca and wool-blended yarn from a Sawyer farm can be found here.

The Sandpiper even has its own brand of yarn called Hoof to Hanger. It is made from raw wool Barnes brings back from her cottage in Ireland. She spins it right in the store.

The Sandpiper is also a place to relax: A small sitting area in the store where customers can sip on free Sandpiper coffee and Tea Forte brand tea. There is also a garden next door with tables and chairs

“In the summer, it is all real pretty,” said Barnes, who is going into her fourth year as owner of The Sandpiper, which has been in Bridgman for 40 years. Prior to Barnes purchasing it, The Sandpiper was primarily a floral and gift shop.

Although it has evolved over the past three years, The Sandpiper still functions as a full-service floral shop.

The Sandpiper is located at 4217 Lake St. in Bridgman. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and is closed Sunday. It can be reached by phone at 269-465-5936.

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