Preuss features animals most people wouldn’t want

People from all over the the United States come to see animals most pet stores wouldn’t have at Preuss Pets in Old Town. Wonder how did the start of Preuss Pets come about? The unique store has a background story. “So it started with my mother wanting to start a fish shop. It was something I grew up with, something that I was just around so much and that I was really interested in,” Rick Preuss, the owner of Preuss Pets, said.

Old Town lacks control over assessment dollar use

Old Town needs to be in control of their assessment dollar use in order to fulfill the needs in the community, said Jamie Schriner, president of The Old Town Commercial Association and executive director of Community Economic Development Association of Michigan. Schriner said Downtown Lansing Inc. is not satisfying those financial needs for the community because they do not know the community as well as residents. Old Town turns to Downtown Lansing Inc. for revitalization grants through The Principle Shopping District (PSD). The PSD performs these efforts within its frontier of l-496 in downtown Lansing to Clinton Street in Old Town. It advances businesses through “advocacy, cooperative marketing, special events, urban beautification and economic development,” Mindy Biladeau executive, director and coordinator of Silver Bells in the City and Downtown Lansing Inc., said in an email.

Record-level flood forces Old Town business to work remotely

Ciesa Design located in Old Town experienced basement flooding Wednesday morning with the water rising 2 inches an hour, said owner Lauren Ciesa. He said he arrived at 7 a.m. with the basement floors still dry, but the water began rising rapidly. “We’re holding back another foot-and-a-half of water. So, we would be (at) about three feet if a window or door broke,” he said. The physical damages caused by the flood will include the kitchen used as a break room.

Understanding demographics help Old Town restaurants succeed

Old Town Lansing has an abundance of local restaurants and owners have to understand the market, said the owner of Meat Southern BBQ, Sean Johnson. With 19 restaurants in Old Town, each owner had to start from the beginning in gaining their own customers. Tamiko Richard, owner of JN Press Juice, said she wanted to educate the market about being more health-conscious with what they put in their bodies. “We (her family) want to be healthy ourselves. You are able to tell more people about it once you start with yourself,” she said.

Old Town works as a community to maintain historical downtown

Old Town maintains its historical district denomination through the Michigan Main Street program. The program has four core points: economic vitality, design, organization and promotion. Brittney Hoszkiw, Community assistance team specialist for Michigan Economic Development Corp,  said the Main Street Four Point was created in the idea of building economic development through the root of historic preservation. According to National Register of Historical Place, North Lansing developed in 1843. Old Town grew to be the original downtown of Lansing.

Memberships program fuel Old Town businesses

The Old Town Commercial Association has successfully implemented a membership program for more than two decades to increase community involvement while keeping foot-traffic coming to the shops. Starting in the late 1990s, Old Town’s individual and business membership programs have helped to keep those interested in being a part of the neighborhood coming back for more, OTCA board president, Jamie Schriner, said. “It helps to show their support for the community,” Schriner said. “It helps to bring in funding and resources, but then if they become members, it means that they’re going to come down here and support the community and support the businesses.”

For an individual, a membership allows you to receive discounts at participating shops, restaurants, and businesses. There are incentives that attract businesses to join like features of their business in newsletters.

Old Town gives to local schools

Old Town restaurants and shops are raising money for local schools in a project called Shop 4 Schools. On Nov. 18, participating retailers in the neighborhood gave 18 percent of customers check-out total to participating schools in the area. Lynn Ross, owner of Mother & Earth Baby Boutique, organized this event based on a similar fundraiser the city of Grand Haven does, where they raised almost $10,000 last year. “A lot of local, small local businesses, don’t have the means to be able to donate items to silent auctions or monetary donations,” Ross said.

Old Town looking for new board member

There is an open seat in Old Town’s board committee and board members are actively looking for potential candidates. They are also accepting applications from those interested in the position. The board has been around since 1996 and oversees what the Old Town Commercial Association does, said Jamie Schriner, the board president. “We’re responsible for the money and making sure that everything is being handled the way it should be and for raising money for the organization,” Schriner said. The board decides anything from finances to hiring the executive director, said vice president Rick Preuss, owner of Preuss Pets.

Old Town: a neighborhood of uniqueness

A cozy feel, one-of-a-kind shops, gourmet food, and everything artsy: that’s the definition of Old Town for residents and visitors. “It’s very different from what you’d find in the Greater Lansing area where it’s mostly restaurant-based where we’re more boutique-based,” said Kathy Holcomb, owner of the Absolute Gallery. Old Town which was founded in 1825 when a surveying crew plotted and charted the land, holds several historic buildings and history deep in its concrete. By the late 20th century, the neighborhood hit hard times and buildings were left abandoned. Dedicated and determined people wouldn’t stand for the decay of the neighborhood so they worked to rebuild it and make it better, according to the Old Town website.

Old Town lofts attract new residents

There are perks of living in a loft rather than a house or apartment like no outside maintenance and being in the center of downtown. Old Town lofts are high in demand and don’t stay on the market very long, said Brian Huggler, realtor and owner of buildings in Old Town. “We’ve had zero vacancy in the past ten years. In fact, when one person moves out, usually they’ve got a friend that wants to move in,” Huggler said. With loft living, you get a different lifestyle than you would in a house or other form of living.