Ice storm knocks down Old Town

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By Shanin Thomas
Old Town Lansing Times staff writer

OLD TOWN LANSING – As some searched for warmth and partook in a dark Christmas, Old Town’s unique boutiques and galleries lost a large number of customers and revenue.

Unique Old Town boutiques and galleries left vacant during the holiday season during the ice storm. (photo by Shanin Thomas)

Unique Old Town boutiques and galleries left vacant during the holiday season during the ice storm. (photo by Shanin Thomas)

Galleries Affected and Money Lost 

Louise Gradwohl, executive director of the Old Town Commercial Association (OTCA), said more people should shop locally in the Old Town historic district to find unique, luxury items.

Absolute Gallery, Grace Boutique, and Katalyst Art Gallery sell unusual, handmade items specific for the holiday season, said business owners.  

Gradwohl said she noticed less business traffic during this holiday season due to the ice storm.

Holcomb said Old Town was having a great business season, then immediately switched to seeing no one shopping at all.

Summer Schriner, owner of Grace Boutique, said there is an upwards of 20 percent of holiday business in the three days before Christmas. She said business is down thousands of dollars this year because we had no power, and customers didn’t either.

Absolute Gallery lost an amount between seven thousand and 10 thousand dollars the days leading up to Christmas, and four thousand to five thousand more dollars after the holiday season, Holcomb said. 

Ice Storm

According to local weather stations, the extreme snow and winds left some Michigan counties in local states of emergency and without power during bitter temperatures.

Business owners Kathy Holcomb of Absolute Gallery and Kristin Olson of Love, Betti said they thought half of Old Town lost power during the ice storm.

Absolute Gallery and Katalyst Art Gallery fortunately did not lose power while Love, Betti and Grace Boutique closed for a number of days without any type of power, business owners said.

The days leading up to Christmas are always busy, Holcomb said. However when the ice storm hit she said she didn’t know what to expect, but wanted to maintain consistency by staying open.

“I wanted to protect my space,” Holcomb said.

Recovery 

Absolute Gallery was a place of comfort for not only Holcomb and her family during the holidays; desperate Old Town citizens were also welcomed.

Holcomb said she invited family members and friends of Old Town to the warmth of her business, to charge phones and take shelter from the ice storm.

Sarah Christiansen, owner of Katalyst Art Gallery, said she has “made a firm plan for the future” to try and make up for the punishing loss.

Schriner said she filed an insurance claim, which read that loss of business due to power outages were covered, but it was denied. However, customers were kind and patient enough to shop in the chill with flashlights and by candlelight.

Questions? Contact Shanin Thomas – thoma955@msu.edu

 

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