The rollercoaster ride that has been the history of Stuffed Gourmet Pretzels in Michigan’s Great Southwest has finally encountered insurmountable odds and the business will sadly be dissolved as a result.
Jennifer and Todd Lentz took to Facebook this week saying, “So the time has come to share some ultimately sad news. We have decided to close up our dream.” A strange combination of forces have come together forcing the couple to end their dream business after a series of ups and downs that would try the patience of any business owner.
The small business enterprise featuring, as the name implies, delicious and popular stuffed gourmet pretzels was launched several years ago in the Harbor Country community of Sawyer, in a building that was so small it was virtually inevitable that they would eventually outgrow the space simply due to the demand for their product.
That day came in November of 2018 when they packed up lock, stock and pretzels and moved up the Lake Michigan shoreline to new quarters in downtown South Haven at 406 Phoenix Street. They maintained wholesale operations in the Niles Incubator Kitchen from which they serviced retail vendors of their products, but moved their retail business to South Haven at that time.
Later, they moved locations in South Haven, settling on a space at 255 Center Street, but ultimately that was a deeply disruptive move when, six weeks after they had relocated, massive road construction left them with limited customer access for weeks on end and hurt them financially.
Nevertheless, they were looking to better days ahead, as Jennifer noted, and then along came the coronavirus pandemic, shutting them down like everyone else. “Still,” Jennifer writes, “we were prepared to keep trucking on, and then last Wednesday happened. I tripped up the curb which hurt, but I went about my day.” Unfortunately, by Saturday she says, “I was in bad pain and had to cancel our markets. I went to the Doctor Monday and it turns out I’ve messed up my foot pretty bad. Six to eight weeks of rest.” She admits to working Monday, ignoring doctor’s orders, and realized she was done. Crying from both the pain and the agony of giving up on her dream, she calls it, “A hard pill to swallow for sure.”
Declaring that “not everyone could do what we did, for as long as we did, and I’m proud of that,” Jennifer nevertheless says, “We are done. No more pretzels, as I can’t keep up with the speed and levels needed without further injuring myself.”
She has been liquidating stock since making the announcement and says Sunday will be the very last day for the great little business known as Stuffed Gourmet Pretzels of Southwest Michigan.
She has thanked her fans for supporting the dream, for loyalty and support, and is hopeful of healing both physically and emotionally.
Hearkening back to her move in 2018, Jennifer said at that time, as they were making the transition from Harbor Country to South Haven, “We are so thankful to have taken this weird, off-beat idea of shoving goodness into our homemade pretzel dough and turned it into a small family-owned business and we couldn’t have done it without you.”