As Robinson’s General Store in Dorset turns 100, new owners Mike and Katie Hinbest are continuing a tradition of additions and expansions that have seen the once tiny 75 by 25-square foot original floor plan continue to grow over the last century.
Brad Robinson and the Robinson family sold the store to the Hinbests earlier this year and they have hit the ground running with a new Robinsons Marina and Powersports outlet just over the bridge, a Lake of Bays brewery outlet and a planned Affogato Café.
All the while, they are continuing to operate the iconic general store that the Robinson family established back in July 1921.
The Hinbests marked the occasion on July 10. They presented Brad with a painting of the store done by local artist, Mary An Blythe. They also had some limited-edition clothing made up for staff and family with some for retail, as well as some locallymade wood magnets and balloons at the store.
Mike Hinbest said when he and Katie first took over, they were “nervous” about ensuring they could continue the Robinsons’ legacy. They wanted cottagers and full-time residents to continue coming not just for groceries, but to make family memories.
However, hailing from Huntsville, they believe they share the values of the historic Dorset family.
“It’s everything for us,” Mike said while seated at a picnic table at the new marina. “How do we keep this iconic store so that it’s about making family memories for another 100 years?”
Mike said another key to their marketing platform and for the future of Dorset is to make it a year-long destination, not just a summer one. For example, he said the new marina will do small engine repairs, but not just on motorized watercraft. They hope to service snowmobiles and all manner of all terrain and off-road vehicles.
Mike said he got to know Dorset when he was a snowmobiler and there’s no reason it can’t be a hub to access water and land trails, offering fuel and food all year round.
It’s been a very busy spring and early summer but Mike said they are loving it.
He said they were taking their lifelong passion and pouring it into the Dorset business community.
Unlike some people who drag themselves to work on a Monday morning, Mike said he can’t wait to start each and every work day.
“I’m just so happy. I enjoy doing it.” Mike is a lot like Brad. They both love people and like to talk. Robinson told The Highlander back in January 2020, at the time he put the property on the market,
“You do in life what you want to do. If I’d wanted to go, I would have gone.”
Brad took over the family store at the age of 20 more than 65 years ago. He oversaw 14 additions and they now sell groceries, hardware and clothing.
It appears the Hinbests are on the same page as they continue to expand the Robinsons brand throughout the town.