Bakery battle brews

The owners of a local bakery are scrambling to make changes to their parking area, and its entrance and exit, before a nearby factory shuts down their primary access.
Marie Havenga
Oct 25, 2013


Oran Rankin and Sara Rathbun, the husband-wife owners of Village Baker, 617 E. Savidge St. in Spring Lake, said they have hired a civil engineer and an attorney to help sort out the situation.

Unless a document surfaces with proof of an easement, officials at the G.A. Richards factory said they will permanently close off the entrance to the bakery from Parkview Avenue, the east-west service drive that runs between Shoreline Vision and the bakery.

G.A. Richards, 701 E. Savidge, owns the land that contains the service drive, the bakery's eastern entrance/exit onto the service drive, as well as the parking spaces on the bakery's east side.

When Rathbun and her husband purchased the property two years ago, they were told a previous owner had a written easement agreement in place with G.A. Richards for the parking spaces and the access drive.

“I do not remember who I talked to at Richards, but I know we had a written agreement with them, but we never had it recorded,” prior owner, Duff Duer, said.

Duer said he does not have a copy of the agreement because he recently relocated and shredded all of his old documents.

Rankin said he and Rathbun signed paperwork at a Muskegon law firm for a perpetual easement when they purchased the site. They recently learned they were the only ones to sign that document — G.A. Richards officials never did.

Rathbun said factory owner John Boll notified her about two weeks ago that he would be closing the access.

“It just came out of nowhere,” Rathbun said.

Rathbun said Boll offered a $200 a month lease for the parking spaces, but she said that ingress/egress use is out of the question. The proposed parking space agreement would only be month-to-month. Rathbun said she fears the factory owner could cancel or hike the price at any time on such temporary lease terms.

“It's a private drive and he can pick who he wants to deal with," Rathbun said. "He said he's going to dig out my parking spaces, put a berm in there and cut us off from that access.”

Rathbun said Boll gave no reasoning for the timing of the access shutoff, other than “liability.”

Calls from the Tribune to Boll have not been returned and G.A. Richards President Kevin Mesler declined to comment.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.



Hey G.A. Richards...

Way to be a nice neighbor...

Oh well as an engineer who gets to make outsourcing decisions on who to do business with for little manufacturers like you, now I have one less to consider.. thanks for the help.


I applaud your decision to not support GA Richards, the little manufacturer with a small-minded, self-centered owner. Their lack of cooperation is not typically seen, nor is it acceptable in our community. The Village Baker, in its short history, has been an enormously positive influence on Spring Lake and Grand Haven.


It seems like the Village of Spring Lake is not a very hospitable location for running a bakery. Years ago there was a GREAT bakery called Braak's and they are gone as well. It does not seem to positive for baked goods in the Village of Spring Lake.

I wish them the best.


Braak's had a good run at I think 80 years in business give or take a few years. I doubt the village had anything to do with the business failure then or the Village Baker troubles now.


I'm pretty sure Braak's didn't fail - the place caught on fire.


I don't see what the deal is. I wouldn't want people coming on my property, and $200/month seems pretty reasonable to me


I just wonder why after all this time there is a switch in thinking by G.A. Richards? The actual article in the paper has a lot more information. Certainly G.A. Richards has a right to do this but why not give the bakery a little more time to make the necessary adjustments. I just don't understand why G.A. Richards let the parking lot be built on their property in the first place. There must be something more to the story that would cause such a turn around.

Hopefully G.A. Richards will do the right thing and at least allow the bakery to figure out their options before cutting them off.


Thanks for the interest; we would be happy to lease the spaces for the $200/month, but that does NOT include access to Parkview Ave. That is the key issue. We have plenty of parking spaces and would be happy to help pay for the easement if it were an option (which has at least a 40 year history.) - Oran.


Sounds like there is likely another side of this story. Before you start placing blame on the factory, we need to hear their side of the story. The vocal owner of the bakery can be difficult to deal with at times and likely has come responsibility. Probably ticked off the factory owners at some point.


We would like to know the other side of the story too. It's too bad that the first time we knew there were any issues we were simply informed that the street is closing to us. -Oran.


Before I get to my comment I would like to say that I have supported the Bakery since their opening, love their baked goods, and shop there several times a week. Of course you have to purchase what you can eat in a day or two; no preservatives and short shelf life.

Now, I so understand what you are saying snlfan, I'm confident you heart is the right place, and it's a nice thing to say in support of the bakery. When it comes down to it though, if they are the low bidder it wouldn't be very good business sense to not go with them just because of this.

We're hearing one side of this story, let’s keep in mind that this is Richards property. I don't think I would like someone using my property as if they owned it, and then people not in the know putting me down for not being a good neighbor when I decided to do something about it. I like my neighbor/s and we get along fine, not so much though if they started using my property like they owned it.

Richards, put in parking meters that you can collect the fees on, then buy a tow truck and park it out front; this will encourage patrons to ante up. How nice for you to have an additional revenue stream from the meters, another tax right off from the tow truck, probably a satisfied neighbor, and maybe everybody in Spring Lake won’t think you are such low life form.


If patrons really like the Village Baker they will probably just part in the Rite Aid lot. That lot is huge and is never close to being full. It's not like it is that far of a walk. Hopefully Rite Aid will let people park there without getting upset.


I'm sure some people use the Rite Aid lot now as I have but the real issue here is the parking directly in front of Village Baker is angled parking and needs an exit.


Snlfan - I bet you aren't really an engineer. You sound more like a friend of the bakery owner


lol you are on here less than 2 hours and calling someone out already. You should fit in well. Next time attack someone who will ream you a new one.


that might be interesting, how could I determine who would want to do that? would you be willing?


You sound like Boll's wife to me.

I'd be more than willing, but if you're not the wife then you're a troll and I don't have time to play.....I worked for G.A. Richards and based on that experience, this situation doesn't surprise me one bit. Classy (not) folks and not much at being honorable business men either.......
That's all I dare say, I don't need 'em coming after me and I own my driveway.


Was this the reason Braak's Bakery was driven out of the Village of Spring Lake as well. For a town as small as Spring Lake, it sure seems like the village is not very bakery-friendly (to have two bakeries go under).


What does "bakery friendly" have to do with an 80 year old Braak's shutting down and how does one figure that Village Baker will go out of business? This doesn't sound like a fair statement to say about the village, the baker, or the factory.


What's all the fuss? They got plenty of bread at Meijer. Huge parking lot too.


The fuss is about the way we treat each other; although in this case we don't have all the facts. Meijer has bread, this is true, if this is where your taste leans then good for you, but it's hard to beat fresh baked goods without preservatives; what flavor.


Herp n Derp


What the $#&^ does that mean??


herp - it was a joke; derp - it was taken seriously.


ahhh, you kids and your new-fangled language. I'm hep now.


don't believe the parrot, look it up yourself, you are on the internet for *&^% sake!


Apparently you haven't heard of "Urban Dictionary." Beware - it's on the internet!


Yes, I've heard of the Urban dictionary, have referenced it here in the past and yes....I did look up the meaning(s) for myself. However I was curious as to whether his own personal definition matched what I read. Is that clear enough for you folks that think there's only one possible answer for every question?


LTA can dish it out but sure as hell can't take it can you?


What can't I take? You and Cat asked questions regarding my intelligence, or lack thereof and I answered your questions to the best of my ability.

What would you rather I do?

Maybe you're not taking it all that well yourself? I just returned your comment with one of my own to help clear things up.

I was messing with Gravish, ya know, joking around...that's why I said "I'm hep" instead of the more widely used "hip". Get it now or still no sense of humor?



Post a Comment

Log in to your account to post comments here and on other stories, galleries and polls. Share your thoughts and reply to comments posted by others. Don't have an account on Create a new account today to get started.