Nevada buyer plans East Coast, Midwest distribution center

SANDUSKY, MI – (April 6, 2022) Originally posted in the Sanilac County News.

Nevada buyer plans East Coast, Midwest distribution center

The empty Jeff’s Marketplace building in Sandusky has a new owner with plans to turn it into a light manufacturing and shipping warehouse for tactical flashlights and leather goods for firearms, and possibly retail sales of outdoor gear for hunting and shooting sports.

John Dunlap IV of Reno, Nevada purchased the 33,000 square-foot building in the Westpark Shopping District last month from Durecka Properties of Lexington.

Jeff Durecka bought the building in 2018 and expanded his business to the location. He closed the Sandusky store in February 2020 but continues the operate his two other stores in Croswell and Lexington.

Dunlap, 40, has ties to the Thumb area. Though he grew up in California, he owns property in the Thumb and has family that has lived here for generations.

He views Sandusky as a good location to expand his business.

Dunlap founded D4 Media, a digital and marketing company, in 2005. He said the Reno-based business has subsidiary brands in the outdoor sporting goods and shooting sports industries.

“We do some light manufacturing of tactical flashlight products for military and law enforcement as well as leather goods-firearms accessories,” said Dunlap.

“Our products are distributed across the United States and about 75 percent of our customers are east of the Mississippi. We have a logistics and manufacturing need for a second location to better serve our Midwest and East Coast distribution.”

Dunlap said he has been interested in a location in the Thumb since early 2021.

“I have been working with the economic development corporations in Tuscola-Sanilac and city managers of the region to find a building that would be suitable. The options are limited and we started looking at existing buildings with potential for alternative uses…We seriously considered the old Nestle Creamery in Cass City among other large-enough buildings.”

The Sandusky site came about through Dunlap’s discussions with Sandusky City Manager Dave Faber.

“In working with the Sandusky City Manager, a discussion of the ‘Jeff’s Marketplace’ building ensued and a willingness was expressed by the city to work with the future owner to rehabilitate the property and reconsider the best use going forward,” said Dunlap.

“After meeting with Mr. Faber in February-March and discussing this further I felt the willingness of the city to be flexible, combined with the ideal location and the potential of the building – it was in good shape – catapulted myself and my company into acquiring it.”

He foresees a “substantial shipping cost savings” for the company if goods can be manufactured and shipped from Sandusky.

Over the next six to eight months, although possibly longer, Dunlap said the building will be remodeled and changed from a marketplace layout to a space that is more open.

“The building is large enough that we can house the manufacturing and assembly of our products, which are small in size, store and ship them to our distribution partners and also have a retail store that is complementary to our product offerings – hunting, firearms, outdoor gear, etc.

“We are currently exploring the feasibility of the retail store and would want it to be successful and welcomed by the community.”

Dunlap anticipates the Sandusky site will employ about 10 people and offer salaries in a range of $40,000 to $85,000 a year.

“We are excited with the second vacant building filling up in the city,” said Faber, referring to the old Kmart building that also has new ownership and will be converted into a commercial indoor storage facility.

“This is only possible due to the vision of the planning commission and city council to look at our ordinances and upgrade them to the current times. We look forward to adding a second new business to our community that will provide growth and employment for our community. It has been great to work with the new owner who has ties to the Thumb region and excited to what he will bring to our community.”

Dunlap has a connection to the area that goes back several generations.

“I have a personal connection to Sanilac County and the Thumb region,” said Dunlap. “I own a cabin and some hunting land off M-53 and my family goes back five generations, mostly farming in the Shabbona-Decker area.

“I’m attracted to people who are honest, hard-working, have integrity, and care about their community – I’m this way and I feel at home in the Thumb.

“Michiganders in the Thumb love hunting, enjoy outdoor shooting sports and many collect firearms. These are my folk,” said Dunlap.