New store offers necessary items to campers

Campgrounds-R-Us manager Michelle Wyon and owner Mike Constine stand Monday in front of the Owosso Township spread’s new camp store.

OWOSSO TWP. — No shirt, no shoes? No problem.

Come as you are at the new Campgrounds-R-Us convenience store, the latest feature of the 120-acre campground at 1255 S. Ruess Road, which also boasts campsites with full water, electric and sewer hook-ups, three miles of hiking trails, boating, a sandy beach, pavilions and many other amenities.

“The last couple of years, people have been asking whether we had any pop, water and chips, and I had to say no, only ice and wood,” camp manager Michelle Wyon said. “We talked about it last year, that maybe it was time for a store. It’s gone over really well.”

Barefooters in bathing suits are welcome.

“It’s a beach store,” owner Mike Constine said. “You don’t have to have a shirt or shoes to come in.”

The 2,500-square-foot store offers everything from soda pop to RV parts, and such items as toothbrushes, brats, burgers, hot dogs and wide array of snacks. There are also Campgrounds-R-Us souvenirs, including fridge magnets, hats, towels and T-shirts.

Outside, a huge, wraparound deck dotted with tables and chairs gives campers a shaded place to munch on food — and the beach is just steps away. Thirty-one new lounge chairs covered by Tiki-bar type canopies are positioned between the store and a 45-acre lake.

Offices occupy the building’s upper floor. When the campground first opened in 2011, the office crew worked out of an RV, later moving into a glorified shed, Constine said. Now, employees and the camp store share a gracious, wooden structure that cost $200,000 to build.

The campground is located on the former Constine Sand and Gravel company. When Constine retired, he said, he kept the gravel pit — and transformed it into a lake, the centerpiece of Campgrounds-R-Us.

In addition, plans are underway to expand the existing 123 camping sites to almost 300, many of them lakeside. Constine said he hopes to start building by next May 1, the kickoff of the camping season, which ends Oct. 31.

“There’s a big demand for lake sites,” Constine said. “People want to be on the lake with their RVs.”

Campers using RVs, pop-ups and tents come from as close as their home down the street to as far as Sweden, making the spread far more than a local attraction. The place has been full every weekend since the summer weather finally broke, Wyon said.

A ribbon-cutting for the camp store, hosted by the chambers of commerce in Shiawassee County and Lansing, is set for 2 p.m. Aug. 16. The event is open to the public.

“The campground has invited everyone to stay (after the ribbon-cutting) and enjoy food, drinks, and an ice cream social while experiencing a wide range of recreational activities such as swimming, tetherball, beach volleyball, kayaking and miles of trails ready for exploration,” states a news release from the Shiawassee Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Formerly called Maple River Campground, the business was renamed after Constine discovered there was another campground in Michigan with the same name. He said he was surprised that no one else has used the current name, Campgrounds-R-Us.

“It worked out well,” he said.

There are daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal rates for campers, and beach day passes. For details, call (989) 721-9120 or visit facebook.com/campgrounds.r.us.

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