Some people have the idea that Bayfield shuts down and hibernates after Christmas. A few businesses are seasonal, but many are open year-round (even if the hours may change). Walk into a shop and often it’s the owner who will greet you.
Jon and Danielle Ewalt at Big Water Café & Coffee Roasters can offer you a creamy latte or rich cup of coffee from beans they’ve roasted.
Next door, the Brownstone Centre is a onetime theater turned boutique where Beta Bodin sells women’s clothing, gifts, cards and books, as well as a wide selection of yarn and knitting supplies. Bayfield may not be as busy after the holidays, Beta says, but “we have a winter clientele. There’s a lot of day-tripping,” as people come to see the Apostle Islands’ sea caves, for instance.
Winter enthusiasts like to visit Bayfield to take advantage of Mount Ashwabay – and to shop. Beta’s other store, Sweet Sailing, sells winter apparel, including Tubbs snowshoes and Smartwool socks, and features homemade jams and jellies, fudge, gourmet foods and kitchen gadgets.
A comment Beta hears from some winter travelers: “I have never driven on the ice road (between Bayfield and Madeline Island) and I want to try that this year.”
Next door at Apostle Islands Booksellers, owners Demaris Brinton and Theron O’Connor can help you track down Kevin Kling’s Holiday Inn. Or you can spend a few minutes chatting about business in Bayfield in winter as Demaris’s dog Kia warms to you with the help of a few treats.
“Browsing in a bookstore is a natural thing to do in winter,” after skiing or snowshoeing, Demaris says. She notes that people come to Bayfield for a range of events and activities, and often are surprised to discover that the stores are open.
It’s also fun for the store owners. “For us, there’s more time to get to know your customers and talk about books. … It’s a much more leisurely pace” than in summer.
At Wolfsong Wear, Mary and John Thiel sell their handmade parkas and other outdoor clothing, and winter is a busy time. Mary agrees that people visit for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and tubing, and for events like the winter carnival.
The Thiels also operate Wolfsong Adventures in Mushing, providing dogsledding trips for all ages and abilities five days a week. Mary likes to have the Wolfsong retail store open on the days of those trips in part because tour guests choose to shop, and the store sells related items such as T-shirts, mugs and stuffed huskies.
Big Water Café sees some post-holiday travelers. Danielle believes they enjoy spending time nursing a beverage and talking with locals. “They feel like they’re getting the local scoop. It’s fun talking with them.”
The cafe is open daily and makes all menu items from scratch. It’s also a community gathering spot.
There are many year-round businesses in town. Here are just a few additional ones: Andy’s IGA, Bayfield Wine & Spirits, Pier Plaza Restaurant, Egg Toss Bakery Café, Keeper of the Light and Maggie’s.
Bayfield Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Bureau has more information. 800-447-4094, bayfield.org.