The Story of the Little Black Rake
When a popular rake they sold in their store was discontinued, Gladwin residents David and Mary Moore decided to re-create their own version to serve their loyal customers.
They spent five years working with local companies and business groups like the CMU Research Corp to develop a durable, double-tined rake made of 100% recyclable materials. In other words, a 2020 version of the former Super Rake.
Then in February, the owners of Stone Cottage Gardens, 3740 Willford Road in Gladwin, launched The Little Black Rake, a lightweight and easy-to-use alternative to the heavier rakes on the market.
To top it off, not only was the rake re-engineered locally, but it’s also manufactured locally.
“We’re really excited it’s a Mid-Michigan product,” Mary said. “It’s all made within an 80-mile radius of Gladwin.”
The Little Black Rake is a time saver because one swipe of the rake produces a clean area. The black, 14-inch wide rake has two sets of curved tines that are offset. What the first set of tines misses, the second set picks up.
Weighing in at just over a pound, the rake also is a back saver. The Little Black Rake was designed for people who often struggle with regular, heavy rakes — women, teens, and older individuals, Mary said.
“I am exhausted after 15 minutes (with a regular rake),” Mary said. “It really does save on your back.”
The small size of the rake head makes it ideal for cleaning out shrubs, under trees, and underneath decks, too, David said in a YouTube promotional video for the product created by the CMU Research Corp.
Ed Wark, owner of Gladwin-based E & D Engineering Systems, has followed The Little Black Rake since the beginning. His company reverse engineered the Super Rake by creating a model and then a mold.
Developing the mold with his team required hard work, and it felt good to see it finished in 2019, he said.
“They were nice people to work with,” Wark said about the Moore family. “I hope it sells for them.”
Kawkawlin-based Saginaw Bay Plastics uses the mold to manufacture the rake head. Finally, the full rake is assembled by the Midland-based Arnold Center.
They also have received support from Alma Container Corporation, the Small Business Development Center in Mount Pleasant, the local chambers of commerce, Midland-based McKay Press, and Gladwin-based S&H Engraving.
To market and sell the product, David and Mary initially focused on home shows where they experienced high conversion rates.
“We have been doing lots of demonstrations,” Mary said.
However, when COVID-19 concerns cancelled home shows this year, they shifted to their website, store, farmer’s markets and the Dow Gardens gift shop.
While many challenges lie ahead, the Moore family is glad they pursued the path that led to The Little Black Rake.
“It’s been a struggle to get here, but we have had so much help from local partners in Mid-Michigan,” Mary said.