Old Town figures out ways to survive

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By Zachary Swiecicki
Old Town Lansing Times staff reporter

Old Town, located in the northern region of Lansing, is only a 5-minute drive from the capital building in downtown Lansing. Many workers from the Lansing area are taking advantage of that and enjoying Old Town’s lunchtime and nightlife environment.

During the day, Old Town struggles to keep the same amount of attraction as weekends. Around lunch time during the week in Old Town, there is an increase in the flow of people, but few restaurants and businesses are open to anyone passing through the small community.

Lambs’ Gate Antiques worker Gail Mackenzie said, “Lunchtime is heavy traffic, then it slows down in the afternoon and then later on it picks back up.  Weekends are very busy … on perfect weather days, you can’t move in here it’s so crowded.”

“I enjoy going to Old Town because I don’t have to see the same people every day. Old Town offers different food selection and a change of pace from downtown Lansing,” a state worker from the Capitol Building (who chose to remain anonymous) said.

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(Sidewalk along Grand River Ave. in Old Town)

While walking down Grand River Avenue, you can easily find a bar or restaurant that suits you. There is also a club that is a block off of the main street. The heart of Old Town, however, is the Art District.

“I do not go to Old Town as much as I would like … sometimes the drive keeps you from leaving (East Lansing),” Michigan State University senior Alexa McCarthy said, “Old Town is a great little pocket within Lansing with some great restaurants and bars. I’ve also noticed they have a nice collection of antique stores.”

Polka Dots Boutique owned by Jennie Hinze and Lambs’ Gate Antiques owned by Carol Lamb are two stores that capitalize on the Lansing workers that visit Old Town during lunchtime.

“It is pretty quiet during the weekdays, but there are quite a few more people that stroll around and go to restaurants and stores in the evening,” Hinze said. “Weekends are really busy kind of for the same reason.”

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(Sidewalk on one side of the Art District of Old Town, Polka Dots Boutique is pictured front left)

The Old Town Commercial Association, led by Austin Ashley, has been vital to the local businesses, helping them work together and figure the best ways to prosper as a whole.

“We’re all positive and want each other to succeed, that is a big part why Old Town keeps getting better and better,” Mackenzie said.

Old Town’s Festivals are a noticeably big part of the community, with Oktoberfest next up on the calendar, the local businesses will hope to see steady business all weekend.

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