The Portage Lake Trading Post has a new owner and a 5-foot tall stuffed bear


Dawn Amerman with Yukon. photo by Colton Muschlitz

The Portage Lake Trading Post’s new owner is probably a familiar face to many in the Pinckney and Dexter communities.

At the end of June, ownership changed hands from Ralph Seitter to Dawn Amerman, who has been manager at the convenience store for the past several years. The Trading Post is located in Dexter Township on the Chain of Lakes. The Sun Times News connected with Amerman to learn more about this change.

This is definitely a local ownership change.

Amerman, a Pinckney High School graduate, worked at and managed Dexter Pharmacy for 25 years, up until the day that they closed their doors. Her husband is a Dexter graduate. She grew up in Pinckney and so has her three children. She was also a local Boy Scout leader and is currently on the board for the Pinckney Aquatic Club.

Looking back at how she came to the Trading Post, she said when the pharmacy closed their doors, “I decided that I needed a break from the healthcare industry.”

“I had a friend who lived across the street from the Trading Post and told me that Ralph was looking for a manager,” Amerman said looking back. “I walked into the store, for the first time, and asked about the position. I had more than enough experience for what he was looking for.”

She started working there in October 2019.

“As I worked here, I became fascinated with the people,” she said. “Everyone that I encountered was so kind. It was a completely different experience from what I was used to. I told Ralph July of 2020 that I wanted to purchase the place. I did start with a partner and sadly, that didn't work out and not due to us not being an exceptional team. It was a little sad to be continuing on this venture on my own.”

But here she is… the new owner of the store that is a unique place in the community. STN asked about the store itself.

“Portage Lake Trading Post is unique all on its own with its location, but it has so many other great things,” Amerman said. “First thing, we are the only convenience store on the Chain of Lakes that can be accessed by both land and water. We have a seawall on the Huron River that has five spots for boats to dock while they come in to shop.”
The store is located at 9270 McGregor Road. 

They offer an extensive assortment of liquor, beer, and wine, and have been expanding their Michigan offerings of all of these things.

“We think it is important to feature businesses from our state,” said Amerman.

They have also added children's toys, including old school toys, and brought back the kid's candy section. They have a bunch of novelty candies, nostalgic candies, and so much more. A big hit for the customers is the candy cigarettes that they have always carried, but they have added the gum cigarettes.

They have a few things for tourists and regulars alike.

There’s also another familiar face at the Trading Post that old Dexter Pharmacy customers will recognize. Amerman brought Yukon, the 5-foot tall stuffed, Steiff bear, with her to the store and it is become a focal point for many photos.

“He was a staple at Dexter Pharmacy from the time that they opened up their location on Dexter Ann Arbor and made the move to Baker Road,” Amerman said. “When the store closed, Fred and Marni Schmid offered him to me, since I had a young kid. He stayed in my basement until he took the truck ride here. We allow animals to come in and get their photo taken with him too. We love posting these to our social media accounts. I even have a gentleman who comes in every day for a Yukon hug. We recently had shirts made with our logo and one was specifically made for him to wear, even at 5X we can't get his arms through it.”

Another addition to the store, with the help of Amerman’s mother, is Petunia. She is a painted rock snake located in the front of the store.

“The community adds painted rocks to her,” Amerman said. “She has reached the end of the building and has started her trek back. She has some rocks from special places and people. There is one from Canada; one from Lake Huron, and most recently a painter added a few to start bringing her back to the door. The kids and adults love checking her out when they come to visit.”

One thing they do ask is that no one takes a rock from her. Amerman said she will be cleaned and housed inside the building for the winter and will come back out in the spring in a different order. They encourage everyone to add to her.

Looking forward, one of the big things that Amerman wants to do is collaborate with her neighbors here.

“We have such a unique set up with NautiMI, Ore Creek, and Riverside all situated in a way that makes it convenient for us to do events together,” she said. “I feel like we each have something to offer the community.”

This will lead to part two. Stay tuned for the Autumn Open Air Market story.

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