Aeropostale closes branch in Eastwood, rent too high

Aeropostale of Lansing Township’s Eastwood Towne Center recently closed due to poor sales and high rent.

The Aeropostale branch in Eastwood Towne Center closed after the store accepted the fact that its sales weren’t high enough to pay the rent.

The Eastwood Towne Center store was one of three located in the greater Lansing area. The other two are located on Grand River in Okemos and Saginaw Hwy in Lansing.

Eastwood Towne Center was developed by Jeffrey R. Anderson Real Estate and opened in 2002. This store opened with the mall.

“It was a business decision with having three Aeros in our area,” former employee Adoree Killips said. “Rent is much higher in Eastwood then the other two locations, meaning our profits needed to be much higher for the company.”

Rent in Lansing Township’s open-air mall varies between $20 and $40 per square foot per year. A commercial rental in Frandor Shopping Center ranges from $9 to $14. One near Meridian Mall in Okemos is also $14.

The portion of the building where Aeropostale was located is 3,600 square feet and will soon be home to a new business in the expansion the mall will undergo.

– Amanda Chaperon

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Lansing Township board meets, discusses issues

The Lansing Charter Township Board of Trustees met to discuss several articles of business relative to the community.

The seven members of the Lansing Charter Township Board of Trustees met for the final time in January to discuss a few pressing matters present on the agenda.

A major issue to note is the Tollgate Drainage District and taxes to be assessed to the residents of that area.

The Tollgate Drainage District is an area in Lansing. Properties in this area, which total roughly 550 parcels of land, are required to pay a sewage or drainage tax on their property. This includes residents who have since sold their property and moved from the area.

“Many residents will be in an uproar about this because it is a payment that could have an impact on their mortgage and other bills,” Supervisor Kathy Rodgers said. She is requesting that residents make their payment by Aug. 1 to avoid this.

Seven local businesses requested a renewal in their Amusement Device License. The local ordinance requires that anything a coin is put into be relicensed annually.

Once a business applies, these devices must be verified by both the police and fire departments to make sure they are up to standard. Each individual device then requires a $25 fee to relicense.

Six of seven businesses were approved. The Whiskey Barrel Saloon was denied due to delinquent taxes.

“The total isn’t over $750, but I have not received a response to any of the letters I have sent,” Treasurer Leo Rodgers said.

The attorney present, Michael Gresens, advised the board to table the renewal of the Whiskey Barrel’s Amusement Device License until the next meeting as a form of sending a message.

– Amanda Chaperon

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Heavy snow destroys building

The wall of a building on North Rosemary St. collapsed around 11 a.m. due to large amounts of snow. This happened approximately six hours after residents said that they heard the roof collapse.

 

Mike Kaloz, a fire captain for the Lansing Township Fire Department said this was an abandoned building and nobody was injured.

 

“One of the neighbors made the call,” said Kaloz. “We got all the snow off safely, and nobody was hurt.”

 

According to Kaloz, the cause of the roof collapse was due to the amount of snow on the flat roof.

 

“Most likely the weight of the snow on the roof was too much for the walls and the roof structure to hold it up and the walls gave way,” said Kaloz.

 

Firefighter Jarrod LaRue, another firefighter for LTFD, said that is an “extremely rare” occurrence.  “In the 14 years I’ve been here, this is the first time this has happened for me.”

LaRue also said, that the building has been vacant for at least 10 years.

Firefighter Jarrod LaRue

Firefighter Jarrod LaRue

 

The building is set to be torn down by the owner which will be required by the township.

 

– Jacque De Witt and Zach Fanko

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Whiskey Barrel delinquent on taxes, unable to renew amusement device license

The Lansing Township Board denied the Whiskey Barrel Saloon a renewal of their amusement device license because of delinquent taxes.

At the Lansing Charter Township Board of Trustees meeting on Jan. 28, the board members had seven businesses requesting renewal for their amusement device licenses. Of the seven, only six were approved.

The businesses that were approved for renewal were Gus’s Bar, NCG Cinemas, Sunshine Laundromat, VFW 701, VFW 6132 and Westgate Tavern. The one that was not was the Whiskey Barrel Saloon.

A local township ordinance requires that each business with amusement devices, which is anything that is coin operated, renew the license necessary for those machines annually. The cost is $25 per device.

According to Township Treasurer Leo Rodgers, the Whiskey Barrel Saloon was denied because they are delinquent on their taxes.

“The total is not over $750, but they have been unresponsive to my letters,” Leo Rodgers said.

This was two weeks ago.

The Whiskey Barrel Saloon is known for being Lansing’s largest country bar. They are frequently bringing in small-time country acts to perform. The bar is also home to a mechanical bull, which is the amusement device they were attempting to renew the license for.

In a follow up interview with Rodgers, he had no new information.

“I have tried to contact the Whiskey Barrel regarding their delinquent taxes, but unfortunately I have not heard from them. I wish I could give you more information, but I cannot at this time,” Rodgers said.

The meeting scheduled for last night, Feb. 11, was cancelled because of extenuating circumstances. The next board meeting will be on Feb. 25. Rodgers said if he has any information to provide before then, he will be happy to share.

– Amanda Chaperon

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How the minimum wage increase will affect Lansing Township

President Barack Obama has signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour for all federal workers, almost a three dollar hike from the current $7.25 an hour. He is also pushing Congress to do the same for all workers across the nation. Those that are pro-wage increase point to the rise in inflation during the last seven years since the last minimum wage increase.

Logan Ball, a Lansing Community College student who works at Dunham’s Discount Sports in Frandor, is concerned about raising minimum wage.

“I believe it will hurt the country,” said Ball. “It will jump everything 25 percent at a minimum.”

 Local stores and businesses may also be affected by this issue. Grocery stores like Meijer depend on part-time workers to fill their shifts but if the minimum wage is increased, how will the store realign hours to remain cost-effective?

Joshua Stinson, a part-time employee at the Lake Lansing Meijer, fears losing hours because of the increase in minimum wage. 

“You’re going to see many people get their hours cut,” said Stinson. “I can’t work full-time with my classes, but I can’t afford to pay off my student loans.”

Although this is a national issue, this particular issue actually affects very few on a national scale. According to a 2012 study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only about 3.6 million workers earn at or below minimum wage or about 2.5 percent of workers in the United States. Only 1.1 percent of those workers are over the age of 25.

The main argument by President Barack Obama for a raise in minimum wage is that it will help full-time workers who are the primary wage earners in their households.

Those who oppose raising the minimum wage typically argue  that doing so will help very  families that are in poverty. According to a 2010 study in the Southern Economic Journal, of the workers that earn less than $9.50 per hour, only 37 percent are the majority earners in their household.

As of now, the American voters favor a raise in the minimum wage by a considerable wage. According to a Quinnipiac University poll  last month, 71 percent of American voters favor an increase in the federal minimum wage. This included over half of Republicans who were polled.

–Zach Fanko

 

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Capital City Homebrew Supply, educating customers about making beer and fermenting wine

Capital City Homebrew Supply pic via internet

Capital City Homebrew Supply is a local supply company owned by Todd Branstner, specializing in helping people develop their passion for brewing beer and fermenting wine. CCHS opened in 2012 and is committed to helping others become their own brewers.

 

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Branstner says that the key to a successful homebrew business is to understand that you can’t expect to have a lot of customers over night. His goal is to build ‘young professionals’.

“The most important thing from a business perspective is to build your clientele,” said Branstner. “Customer service is important. A lot of our customers are former Michigan State students. Our goal is to make a good impression with our customers and get them to become better brewers.”

Jordan Artuso, the general manager of CCHS has been with the company since it opened.

“It’s a friendly business,” said Artuso. “After I did communications in the army, I wanted to do something I loved, something that was fun.”

Artuso got into brewing beer and believes it is a rewarding career. Over time, Artuso got better and better at making his own beer and has made a career out of it.

“It became a real hobby for me,” said Artuso. “I got into it and felt like I could do something I loved, and help a lot of people get into brewing their own beer.

Aside from brewing their own beer and wine, CCHS offers sample classes and beginning brew classes for beer and wine twice a month. CCHS also has advanced equipment like refractometers which help you measure beer level. As a supply company, they want to sell their products, but they want to do it while educating their customers.

 

CCHS pic 4

Artuso agrees that helping people make their own beer is a key to their business. The bi-weekly classes CCHS offers helps customers discover how to make the brewing process easier and more efficient.

“We get a lot of people that bring in their own beer,” said Artuso. “They’ll say that they made this beer, and they want us to try it and see what we think. We try to help everyone get better at brewing beer.”

Jason Horrocks, a regular customer of CCHS, says that Artuso played a huge role in his appreciation for brewing.

“I started brewing this summer,” said Horrocks. “A lot of it was because of this store. These guys are passionate about what they do. I liked beer enough to see how it was made. I found out that it’s really easy to make good beer.”

Horrocks said that because of CCHS, he is going to brew his own beer for his wedding this upcoming summer.

 

CCHS pic 5

Artuso believes that brewing your own beer is better than going to a bar and getting beer.

“A lot of times the kegs at the bar have been sitting there for a couple months,” said Artuso. “It’s hard to find fresh beer at a bar, but if you know how to brew your own beer, you can find out that it’s really easy to make your own. It tastes great and you get a great value out of how much it costs to make good beer.”

Branstner says that he made a Belgian-style beer that cost only $23 to make a five-gallon batch. This cCompares to a microbrew that could cost that much for a few glasses at a restaurant or bar .

“The key with IPAs and Pale Ales is freshness,” said Branstner. “We have over thirty different hops. When you make your own beer like we do, you’re able to enjoy it at its peak freshness.”

Artuso has found enjoyment in brewing beer and wine and wants to help others find the same passion he has for brewing.

“Brewing your own beer can be an overwhelming process,” said Artuso. “We try to show people that once you know how to brew your own beer, it’s something you can really enjoy doing.”

Brewing your own beer can be something you can put in a lot of time in, or a little time in depending on how much you want to put into it. Branstner’s CCHS helps brewers at all levels.

“Formulating recipes, ingredients, even small questions,” said Branstner. “This business is here to help people with making their own beer.”

– Jacque De Witt

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Greg Drake turning his passion for tattoo art into a career

A customer at Local Tattoo & Laser Co. checking out their new tattoo.

A customer at Local Tattoo & Laser Co. checking out their new tattoo.

Tattoo art is not only a job, but a way of life. For Drake, owner of the Local Tattoo & Laser Co. and a tattoo artist for 22 years, the journey into the tattoo industry started during the early 90s. “I fell into it honestly,” said Drake. “It was really underground back in the early 90s, so it was hard to find a job, and I just got lucky and landed a spot.”

Drake began his career as a pencil artist,working at  Splash of Color, then located on South Cedar in Lansing. The parlor has since moved to East Lansing. Drake’s experience there helped him open his own tattoo business. The Local Tattoo & Laser Co., located at 2020 E. Michigan Ave. in Lansing, has been in business for the past four years.

JRN 300 Pic 2

“We set up our tattoo rooms the same way they have theirs set up,” said Drake. “Because I worked there so long and I only know that way.”

Jay Ellis, a tattoo artist who works for Drake, said that he has seen a shift in the types of art that are featured in tattoo parlors during his seven years in the business.

“We have seen a change to more realism type art as far as what customers are requesting,” said Ellis. “Also the equipment and technology is far more advanced these days.”

According to Drake, the biggest change in the tattoo industry  is the emphasis on educated artists who have gone to art school.

“The newest generation of tattoo artists are bachelor degree holders,” said Drake. “Coming right out and able to do anything that you want.”

Drake also notices the change in equipment from electric-coil machines (which are quite loud) compared to the newer rotary machines (which are almost silent). Although many tattoo parlors have made the shift towards the rotary tattoo machines, Drake is hesitant to make the shift just yet.

“My buddies have told me that they like the way I tattoo with electric coil,” said Drake. “I may go rotary, but I don’t know if I want my work to suffer from the transition.”

When a person first comes in for a tattoo, there are a few basic steps. The customer has to know what they want first.

“If the customer comes in and absolutely has no idea what they want, we’ll tell them to go home and think more about it,” said Ellis.

After a customer finds out what they want for a tattoo, they then have to figure out where on the body the tattoo should go.

“Some parts of the body stretch out more,” said Ellis. “Like when you’re doing a tattoo near the rib area, you really have to make sure you take into account how much the skin stretches when sketching the tattoo.”

According to Ellis, half of the time customers come in with their own custom art that they want done on their body.

“There is a collaboration process when dealing with custom made art,” said Ellis. “We find that some customers are open to small changes being made to make the finished piece better.”

JRN 300 Tattoo Pic 3

The starting price for most tattoos is around $50 .An average tattoo usually takes around 15 to 20 minutes to complete.

According to Drake the best part about being a tattoo artist is the canvas an artist gets to use.

“The fact that you get to put art on people’s bodies,” said Drake. “It’s an awesome canvas to work on. It’s like no other canvas.”

Drake has few  complaints about the career about but he warns that, as with any business,  it is tough at first to make a profit and be successful.

“Your first year into it you can’t think you’re going to make $30,000,” said Drake. “It takes 100 percent dedication. If it’s not a lifestyle then you won’t be successful.”

–Zach Fanko

 

 

 

 

 

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