“Northern Initiatives took us from the days when we couldn’t sell beer to when we could sell again!” David Gill, President of Drifa
A global pandemic didn’t curb the enthusiasm of the entrepreneurial spirit that sparked the launch of Michigan’s first cooperatively-owned brewery. In the fall of 2019, after spending years honing their craft, members of the Marquette Homebrewers Club were ready to share the incredible beers they had created on a larger scale. Then Dave Gill, President of the club, had an idea; the Homebrewers could use the cooperative business model to open a brewery. Northern Initiatives provided the owner/members with startup funds to purchase needed equipment, build out Drifa Brewing, their production facility and taproom, and provide working capital during the startup phase of their operations.
Fast forward to March of 2020 when, without any method to sell beer outside of their tasting room, COVID 19 forced the business to shut down.
During these strange times, they found themselves in a unique place. Like other business owners, they realized there was no right or wrong way to navigate – they just needed a way to hang on. They reached out to their members and the local community with a call to action – Donate your unused growlers! Doing so would give Drifa Brewing a means to provide a to-go, curbside pick-up option for their beer. Hundreds of growlers were donated, giving the business a short-term fix.
Continuing the theme of trying new things, as the climate transitioned, they launched a to-go option selling 32 and 16 oz. growl
ers until they could get their indoor space adjusted to new regulations and transform their outdoor space into a safe, inviting Beer Garden. Northern Initiatives provided additional financing to help the business pivot. “Northern Initiatives took us from the days when we couldn’t sell beer to when we could sell again!” stated David Gill.
The business managed this massive disruption to the best of their ability. Rightfully proud of, and grateful for, the way it has been able to forge ahead in these unpredictable times, the Marquette Brewing Cooperative continues to keep their can-do attitude.
They’ve managed to keep staff employed, they’ve managed to create new sales avenues for their product, they’ve managed to create an atmosphere where both staff and customers feel safe, and through it all, they’ve managed to continue operations and share their passion for a great brew!