Old Town businesses deal with harsh winter weather

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By Juliana Moxley

Old Town Lansing Times staff writer

 

OLD TOWN LANSING – This year’s winter weather brought torrential snowfalls, ice storms and freezing cold, and it’s taking a toll on everyone – including Old Town businesses.

Winter storms move in

The Midwest has their fair share of snowy moments during the winter, but this year the winter weather was taken to the next level, being described as the “polar vortex.” Inclement weather resulted in hundreds of school closures, as well as people staying off the roads, if at all possible, in order to stay safe. In a small nonprofit organization such as Old Town, the creative businesses that make up the district felt some impact on their business revenues due to weather conditions this year.

Old Town Commercial Association Executive Director Louise Gradwohl said although she doesn’t know the actual numbers from businesses in terms of how they were effected by this winter’s weather, she does know the ice storms made an impact on Christmas sales. With Old Town being a Main Street Community where it’s common for people to walk from store to store given how small the district is, Gradwohl said the amount of snowfall has hindered the interest in shopping outdoors.

Photo credit: Dave Trumpie

Photo credit: Dave Trumpie

January slows down businesses

Cravings Gourmet Popcorn & Soda Pop owner Chad Jordan said the weather this winter absolutely effects his winter business.

Jordan said his business does the most sales in the Christmas season – usually late November and all of December – with the least amount of sales being in January. Jordan said the decline in business during January is largely because of the weather; he describes it as having a “negative effect.”

“People don’t like to go outside with the wind chill or when it’s cold,” Jordan said. “It’s messy on the sidewalks because of all the slush.”

Preuss Pets owner Rick Preuss describes his business as being a warm, tropical oasis where people like to take their kids in the winter months. For that reason, Preuss said if people’s cars can get around, the winter weather does not have a great effect on his business.

“The only time it really effects us is when people can’t move around – when the roads are not clear, when they feel like there are safety issues with moving around, anything that says you shouldn’t go outside by looking at the weather – those are always going to be impediments,” Preuss said.

In terms of sales being significantly different this winter compared to other winters, Preuss said the sales were just far more unpredictable.

The majority of the shops in Old Town are of the creative nature, including stores such as art galleries, antique shops and design studios. Katalyst Art Gallery owner Sara Christiansen said business is usually slow in January but this winter she’s had less people come into her gallery compared to last year.

“Business has been about the same for me,” Christiansen said. “It’s slightly down, I would say maybe five percent, but it’s pretty close to last year.”

Months With the Most Sales

Questions? Contact Juliana Moxley at moxleyju@msu.edu or (586) 819-9750

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