Driftwood Summer Shop passed down to next generation of ownership

Published 9:11 am Thursday, February 21, 2019

SISTER LAKES — After 35 years of ownership, ice cream and raising a family, Lorie and Steve VanAntwerp are handing off Driftwood Summer Shop to the next generation of owners. The VanAntwerps were the second owners of the beloved ice cream and memorabilia store, which they took over from Carl and Lucille Timmons. In spring of 2019, Allison and Daniel LaFond, the niece and nephew-in-law of the VanAntwerps, will take over Driftwood when the shop reopens for Memorial Day weekend.

Lorie, a Chicago transplant to Dowagiac, worked at Driftwood as a teen. She recalled the time when she would tell Lucille that someday she would take over Driftwood. Not only did Lorie take over ownership of Driftwood, she raised her family there with Steve, and was the owner for the same number of years as the Timmons. But as they crossed the 35-year threshold of ownership, Lorie and Steve felt it was time to move on.

“We had been looking at retirement and just talked to people about selling by word of mouth. We knew we were getting to the age to pass the baton,” Lorie said. “We kept getting emotional cold feet.”

While contemplating selling Driftwood, it was important to Lorie and Steve that the next owners took on the shop with a mindset of preservation. The VanAntwerps wanted someone who knew the place well and would protect its legacy in the community.

“It was very important that we found someone that continued that passion, knows the area and families that live around there and was familiar with how we ran it,” Lorie said. “We were just, in the back of our minds, waiting for the right person to come forward.”

When Allison expressed interest in taking over Driftwood, Lorie and Steve knew she and Daniel would be the right fit.

“This is a very positive change that’s going to happen in Sister Lakes,” Lorie said. “They fit the mold perfectly. We are very, very happy with the transition and how it will take place.”

Allison and Daniel traveled from their current residence in Tennessee to visit Sister Lakes for a weekend in 2018 to get a feel for the shop and what it would be like to run it. As they transition into ownership in 2019, Steve and Lorie plan to be around to guide and direct as they “pass down the ice cream scoop,” as Lorie described it.

“We’ll be there to assist and aid them through the first busy weekend of Memorial Day. We’ll be presently active in the store,” Lorie said.

Allison and Daniel have two children of their own, and the family will reside in the upper story of Driftwood, keeping the family friendly atmosphere of the store alive from top to bottom. Both Daniel and Allison have education degrees, and Daniel plans to take up teaching during Driftwood’s off season.

“They’re the perfect puzzle piece to this whole story,” Lorie said.