History of Cherry Republic

Cherry Republic was founded in 1989 when Bob Sutherland began selling T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan “Life, Liberty, Beaches and Pie” from the trunk of his car. A few years and many thousands of T-shirts later, Bob branched out into cherry products. What started by simply printing that same T-shirt design on the labels of bags of Cherry Boomchunka Cookies and dried cherries quickly blossomed into a line of nearly 200 cherry products.

We outgrew the trunk of Bob’s car many years ago and now have five retail locations: our headquarters at our Glen Arbor campus, flagship stores in Traverse City and Holland, and embassies in Charlevoix and Ann Arbor. In addition, our thriving website and catalog business help serve the cherry cravings of our citizens around the nation and throughout the world.

Of course, our success at Cherry Republic has been punctuated by our fair share of challenges. We well remember those humble and inexperienced beginnings, trying to launch a crazy little startup, creating a great-tasting cookie that nobody would purchase, and trying time and again to get that first bank loan – you try pitching a business plan of nothing but cherries to a roomful of bean-counters!

We take pride in our cherry niche today. More cherries are grown in our home county of Leelanau than in any other county in the U.S. We love cherries! We’re proud to support the local cherry farmers and to help preserve the stunning lakeshores of northern Michigan. We want to put cherries in every household in America.

Bob’s 84-year-old mother has another view of why he started a company that only sells cherries. It's on a T-shirt that she wears when she works at Cherry Republic. It says, “The owner is a simpleton. Selling more than one fruit would be too complicated for him.”

And what of the trunk of that car that started it all? Bob cut it off and it’s now attached to side of the Great Hall in Glen Arbor!