After ‘crazy’ 2020, cider mills prepare for wave of customers

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ST. JOHNS, Mich. (WLNS) – Last year, cider mills were some of the few businesses spared from the worst of the pandemic. Owners and families 6 News spoke with today hope it stays that way.

“We didn’t even make it home,” said Jennica Basler. “We had to stop and get some fresh donuts and apple cider.”

The Baslers just finished closing down their family home up north when something familiar started calling their name

“It’s nice to celebrate the end of summer on the lake and then to come home and start to do the fall activities,” Basler said.

The Baslers try to stop by the cider mill each year but made it a point to do it 2020.

“We came here, we liked doing outdoor things during COVID,” Basler said.

They were far from the only family with that idea. Last year, while many businesses had to shut their doors , sales were up at cider mills

“People were really excited last fall to have a chance to get out and do something after being locked up so much,” said Brian Phillips, owner of Phillips Orchard and Cider Mill.

This time around, COVID restrictions at both places are more relaxed, masking is optional and vaccines are not required – but that does not mean owners are letting their guard down.

“It’s not quite as strict as last year. Last year it was everybody had to have a mask on, hopefully it doesn’t get that bad again this fall,” Phillips said

But even with all the changes COVID has brought, owners say this day in particular always brings some normalcy.

“Labor day weekend is always the unofficial start of the fall season,” Phillips said. “That’s when everybody starts thinking of apples, cider, donuts and fall things.”

It’s the season Uncle John’s owner Mike Beck always looks forward to the most.

“We love having people come back,” Beck said. “The kids grow up, they bring their kids back. It’s great to see.”

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