Various employees at businesses located in Old Town say they benefit from the increased foot traffic the BluesFest brings in every year.
The BluesFest is a free, two-day, music festival that was held on Sept. 16 and 17 in Old Town this year.
Adrienne Doty, an employee at Tallulah’s Folly in Old Town, said that the festival is good for business, and they extend their business hours especially for it.
“It was a good idea for us to stay open because a lot of people that aren’t from Lansing came to the festival and found out about [the store],” Doty said. “They come in and they get our card and they can also see our products on Facebook. The festival gives us more exposure and more return business because some people don’t bring their wallets, so they come in and get a card and come back later.”
The BluesFest is put on every year by MICA, the Michigan Institute for Contemporary Art.
Rosy Goacher, the executive assistant for MICA, described it as “a non-profit organization serving as a catalyst to quality arts programming, the preservation of historic buildings and economic development.”
Goacher said it is important that this event is free because it is a big draw to get people there. They are able to make it free due to the income the organization receives.
“MICA has two sources of income. First, unearned income, such as donations from individuals and businesses (tax deductible) and government grants. Sponsorships sometimes are non-cash, where we are given goods and services for free that otherwise would cost a lot of money. And second, earned income includes: admission to the beverage tent, profits on sale of food and beverage and rent paid by food vendors and craft vendors to have booths,” she said.
Kristin Olson, the owner of Love, Betti in Old Town, said her store benefited from the festival as well.
“It increased sales for the two days of the festival and usually after the Bluesfest [the store] has increased sales because people come back,” she said.
Brittney Hoszkiw, the executive director for the Old Town Commercial Association, said she recognizes the positive effects the BluesFest has on Old Town even though the association does not host it.
“BluesFest is an important event for Old Town. It brings thousands to the community from all over the state, reinforces the arts brand that we are so known for, and helps support local businesses through increased sales during the festivals,” she said.
BluesFest does not benefit all of the businesses in Old Town directly. Diane Sanborn, the associate broker for Cozy Koi Bed and Breakfast in Old Town said it doesn’t have much of an effect on their business. Cozy Koi is a Bed and Breakfast located near the Capital Building in Old Town, Lansing.
“Old Town BluesFest is one piece of the overall success of Old Town. This year Old Town, Lansing was one of five communities in the entire nation recognized for its turnaround,” said Goacher.