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Saugatuck Business Owners Enjoy The Off-Season

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SAUGATUCK, Mich. – The sound of the wind blowing is about all that can be heard along the streets of Saugatuck in the winter.

Several feet of snow cover the sidewalks, creating a wall between visitors and businesses. A majority of the shops shutdown in the winter, but for people like James Brandess, who stay open year-round, they shovel their own walkway just so customers can get inside the store.

“I feel a responsibility to Saugatuck and to people who come to Saugatuck,” James Brandess, owner of James Brandess Studio & Gallery, said. “If the roads are open people will come here.”

Brandess is a well-known artist whose oil paintings can be seen on display all across town. He said summers are great for business in the tourist town, but that if he didn’t get a break during these cold months, he wouldn’t be able to keep up with the demand.

“Winter gives me the time to step back, paint my wall green, set up wherever I want and work here,” Brandess said. “I really welcome the change.”

He isn’t the only business owner who enjoys some down time. Brandy Pearce said she keeps Phil’s Bar & Grill open because it’s a home away from home for a lot of the people who live there.

“We’re always here for the locals,” Pearce said. “We’re the cheers of Saugatuck.”

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