Leelanau News and Events

Polka While You Pump?

By Emily Tyra | April 26, 2021

Bunting’s Cedar Market in downtown Cedar is getting upgraded gas pumps — with fuel service resuming this week — and perhaps a quirky surprise coming along with them.

At the friendly nudging of fellow retailer Kathleen Koch at Polish Art Center, manager Bill Bailey is exploring the possibility of playing polkas outside for people at the pumps. He and Koch believe the tunes would delight both locals and visitors to Leelanau’s village famous for its polish heritage and the annual Polka festival.

“Kathleen is a bundle of energy, and we need more people like that,” says Bailey of the texts and conversations they’ve had about assuming Cedar’s own brand of cool.

As Koch told the Leelanau Ticker, “It’s our time to shine. ‘Cedar: the town where polkas play every day.’”

Bailey has been with Bunting’s Cedar Market for the past 26 years (having started working for owners Greg and Dottie Bunting at age 18) and has been manager for the last 10. He says that Bunting’s does have a longtime tradition of playing polka music inside the store “during Polka Fest itself but having it outside at the gas pumps really gives the town a little more Polish atmosphere.”

Timing the music with the fuel station upgrades just makes sense, he says, adding that the overhaul to the parking area/pumps is needed to meet current requirements for all gas stations in Michigan. “Other stations in the region have had to close; luckily we were able to make the investment.”

Bailey is now looking into Bluetooth speakers to broadcast polka music — softly — outside Bunting's. “Sometimes what people need is a different funny quirk, and with everything going on in the world, if it’s something to bring a smile to someone’s face, I’d love to be a part of it.”

He also welcomes feedback on the idea: “I am curious to hear people’s comments!”

Bailey adds, “I love this store — and what an awesome community. There is so much potential with the town. People often ask me ‘does it bother me that other businesses are moving in?’ We all have something a little different to offer and we complement each other.”

Koch believes “people would drive here just for the novelty of pumping gas and tapping their toes to a polka.”

Adds Bailey, “Cedar is in the middle of the county, close to the city and close to the shore, so it’s perfect.”

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