Northern Michigan Shopping: Cincinnati native Kevin Sorg fondly remembers having campfires on the beach with his family and friends at his family’s cottage on Bear Lake. While sitting in front of the fire, they used to joke about how fires on the beach exemplified “Michigan nightlife.”
Sorg, who is a graphic designer, began experimenting with making T-shirts, with the purpose of giving them out as fun gifts for family and friends. “I was just making T-shirts as fun gifts and things, so I made a Bear Lake Nightlife shirt,” Sorg said. “I started wearing it around and people started asking me ‘Hey where can I get that? I like that’.” He quickly realized that his clever idea for a fun T-shirt had big potential. He kept the campfire logo but changed the text to read “Michigan Nightlife”, to attract a larger audience, and then people quickly began ordering his shirts.
After successfully selling his shirts at local events, like Bear Lake Days, Sorg began showing his product to stores in Northern Michigan. Five years later, Michigan Nightlife shirts are available at ten stores throughout the area. Sorg has also his expanded his brand, by putting his classic Michigan Nightlife logo on bumper stickers, hats and glassware. He has also created more designs that reflect the laid-back, Northern Michigan lifestyle, including a design, which features a beach chair and reads “Relax” and a design that reads “Lake Michigan — Some Lakes Are Greater Than Others.”
Sorg believes the “Michigan Nightlife” design, has become popular in the area with Michigan natives and visitors alike because it resonates with them and reminds them of their time spent in the area. “I think in a day and age where cottages have Wi-Fi, big screen TVs and smartphones that there is something about sitting at the fire and enjoying the old school way of just sitting around and having fun with people,” Sorg said. “I think when people see that shirt it kind of brings back those memories.”