Ice Cream Wars in Grindstone City

Oldest Store in Michigan’s Thumb

Grindstone General Store Grindstone City MichiganIt isn’t often that two shops offering the same fare open in a small town at the same time. But that is what is happening in Grindstone City. The Grindstone General Store is one of the oldest proprietorships in the Thumb. It’s well known for its huge ice cream cones served up for kids of all ages. The store also offers items produced by local artists.  What is less known is a relative newcomer; Rybak’s Ice Cream and Candy Shop just down the street operating in a historic building, built by Aaron Peer in 1881. Rybak’s offers high-end ice cream, homemade candy and assorted gifts from local artists. The shop once headquartered the Grindstone operations which the town is famous. The building has been beautifully restored. 


Rybak's Ice Cream Grindstone City


A Former Grindstone City Quarry Headquarters

A Great Lakes shipper, Captain Aaron Peer, sought shelter in the area’s natural harbor in 1834. As his crew explored the dense forest and rocky beach for shelter and firewood, the men came across huge flat rocks lying about the shore and forests. 


Rybak's Candy Counter Grindstone City

Grindstones Were the Areas First Industry

Taking samples south to Detroit, they found the stone (part of the Marshall Sandstone Formation) to be impeccably suited for paving streets, replacing Ohio flagstone as the preferred medium. Within a couple years, Captain Peer and his crew took advantage of the stone to sharpen their tools and began shaping them into grindstones shortly thereafter. A small port grew here as the industry took hold in the forest.


Rybak's Ice Cream Shop Grindstone City


In 1836,  Peer purchased 400 acres of land to establish a grindstone quarrying and manufacturing operation. The outcropping of Marshall Sandstone that Peer discovered was an abrasive stone with a very fine grit unique to Grindstone City and perfect for grindstones, scythe stones and hones. Worldwide demand soon earned the town the nickname of Grindstone Capital of the World. 


Rybecks Ice Cream Grindstone City


The town became largely a company-built town, with homes, a grist mill, wharves, and a booming industry with two quarries. A salt mining operation produced 125 barrels of salt each day during the 1870s, and the first railroad built into Grindstone City.

So next time you get a taste for ice cream or are sick of Cheeseburgers in Caseville make the effort to get to Grindstone City. The choices are awesome.


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3 thoughts on “Ice Cream Wars in Grindstone City”

  1. Ice cream WARS is right. The owner of Rybak’s has a major chip on his shoulder when it comes to the fact that he has competition in town just a block away.

    Our family first cruised to Rybak’s to check out their selection of ice cream, which was about a dozen plus flavors of Gurnsey Ice Cream.

    We then drove over to the General Store and looked at their selection, which included commercially available flavors plus some made on site.

    We ended up buying two cones from the General Store and heading back to Rybak’s to buy two more, which we ate at picnic tables next to Rybak’s amazing restored 1800’s building.

    I finished my cone and went to the porch to throw the plastic cone holder in the garbage can there when a man on the porch said, “I didn’t spend a hundred thousand on this building to serve the competition.”

    At first I wasn’t sure he was talking to me, but he went on with some more muttering about “the competition”.

    I explained that we had bought ice cream from both places, and ended up at his place, but that didn’t seem to matter.

    The other establishment was busy, while his was dead, except for us. He had one girl behind the counter, and the competition had at least 4 people working on orders.

    The Rybak’s guy was a newcomer, serves smaller cones, makes no ice cream of his own, yet fancies himself the “Boss of Ice Cream” in Grindstone City?

    Good luck with that, pal.

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