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Spice Harbor

Kristi Kates - June 27th, 2011
Culinary Inspiration: Spice Harbor
By Kristi Kates
 Having just passed its one-year anniversary, Sarah Moglovkin’s kitchen
store, Spice Harbor, is doing great and spicing up the culinary lives of
Harbor Springs and Petoskey residents.
Inspired by two of Moglovkin’s favorite retailers, Sur La Table and
Williams-Sonoma, Spice Harbor is like a miniature version of the kitchen
stores seen in bigger cities, with all of your cooking necessities, and
plenty of quirkly, smartly-designed kitchen accessories that aspiring
chefs probably didn’t even know they needed.
“The inspiration for the store came from a love of cooking and
entertaining, combined with an appreciation for good quality cookware,”
Moglovkin explains.
Moglovkin and her husband, both native Michiganders, moved to California
in the late ’80s for their careers. Moglovkin worked in the garment
industry, while her husband worked in the motion picture business. A
decade of the West Coast was enough for the couple, though - Moglovkin
explains that Michigan was always calling them back.
“After 10 years of working, we started a family, and I became a
stay-at-home mom,” she says. “During the summers, I would take a month to
return to Michigan and see our families. My parents had just retired to
Harbor Springs, and my in-laws were in Alden, Michigan. I fell in love
with the area, and my husband and I were always trying to figure out a way
to move back to Michigan; California just never felt like home.”
A couple of years ago, the Moglovkins made some big changes in their
lives. They purchased a second home in Harbor Springs, which they quickly
decided would be their primary home. After they got settled, they decided
to start Spice Harbor.
“As far as I knew, Harbor Springs had never had a culinary store before,”
Moglovkin says.
Now the question was simply where to put the store. Harbor Springs’ tiny
main street, its busiest shopping thoroughfare, is only a couple of blocks
long. And Moglovkin wasn’t sure how things would work, with the town being
so busy in summer and so quiet in winter.
“The ‘short season’ is a real issue and a challenge,” she says, “I didn’t
know what to expect my first year, doing business in a summer resort town.
But it was pretty successful - the store was so well-received, I was given
positive feedback again and again. In fact, the readers of Express voted
Spice Harbor Best New Store in Emmet and Petoskey - I was thrilled. And
having my first year under my belt, I have a better idea of how to plan
for the future.”
Located in the old Graphic building right on Harbor Springs’ Main Street,
Spice Harbor’s detailed window displays draw passers-by in; summers
showcase two retro metal swinging benches out front, and the store itself,
a 1930s building, provides the perfect setting.
“We looked at buying a building and settled on renting, to begin with,”
Moglovkin says, “even though we thought the business would be great for
Harbor Springs, we didn’t know if Harbor Springs would think it was; we
didn’t want to commit to too much, too soon.  But the building is quite
charming with its original tin ceiling; we gave the outside a fresh coat
of paint, and did a little redecorating inside. I had a great time finding
antique hutches, tables, bakers racks, and even an old 1930s Magic Chef
oven (to display items on.)”

One of Moglovkin’s favorite things about owning the store, she says, is
getting to shop and buy all of the merchandise that she sells.
“Most of my inspiration comes from looking at catalogs and culinary
magazines,” she explains, “seeing what’s new. I knew some of the key lines
I wanted to sell, like Emile Henry’s French bakeware; Lodge’s cast iron
USA cookware; Golden Rabbit’s enamelware, and Anne Taintor’s retro humor
items. Once I found out who the sales reps were for those lines, they
introduced me to all the other lines that they carry. I haven’t been to
any of the big housewares shows yet, though,” she jokes, “I’m afraid if I
go, I’ll need a bigger store!  In the meantime, I try to have practical
items that everyone might need in their kitchen to fun gadgets and gifts,
not to mention spices.”
And what terrific spices - Moglovkin carries a special line, the Alden
Mill House Spices, which were the creation of her late father-in-law,
Eugene Moglovkin, aka “Chef Geno.”
“He was a professionally trained chef and culinary artist,” she says, “as
a chef, he would use his own spice blends in his cooking.  His customers
would rave about the flavor of the meat and he was encouraged to package
his spice blends. He decided to bottle and sell some of his Miracle Blend,
and he’d go on the road and sell his spices to butcher shops, small
markets and restaurants. He began making more and more blends, and the
business grew.”
While Miracle Blend - a seasoned Kosher flake salt that can be used on
everything from vegetables to meat to eggs - was the spice that got the
business started (and can often be seen in many Northern Michigan
restaurants), several of Chef Geno’s other blends have become big sellers,
too, including his Malabar Island Pepper, Garlic Pepper, Blackening
Seasoning, and Pork and Poultry seasoning.
“I’d like to see one of our local restaurants use the Miracle Blend and
Malabar Island Pepper on their tables,” Moglovkin says.

In addition to the spices and so many kitchen gadgets you’ll find it
difficult to decide which to purchase first. Spice Harbor also offers a
selection of loose leaf teas and spices from Great Lakes Tea and Spice
“They are also a privately-owned Michigan company, from Glen Arbor,”
Moglovkin explains, “Chris, the owner, is great to work with; he’s even
taken the time to visit my store and teach me a little more about tea. I
was never a big tea drinker, but I am now - their selection of teas is
quite extensive.”
Moglovkin also carries powdered sour crème/yogurt dips, soups, and bases
from Alden Mill House, as well as Great Lakes Tea and Spice’s own special
blends of seasonings and their vinegar and oil lines, so patrons have
plenty to choose from.
“What’s unique about Spice Harbor is the ordinary,” Moglovkin says, “I
sell ‘uniquely ordinary’ things for your kitchen - a pretty apron for your
sister, a cupcake pan for your aunt, or a wine aerator for your husband; a
jar of Miracle Blend for the chicken you’re going to grill tonight. And
you don’t have to drive around the Bay to get it. The tourists seem to
like my store as much as the locals - we’ve been getting shipments in
daily, and the store is stocked full of great new summer merchandise.
“At Spice Harbor, you can shop local, and it won’t cost you an arm and a
leg,” she concludes.

Spice Harbor is located at 262 East Main Street in downtown Harbor
Springs, ph. 231-526-4050.   
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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