Basic technology does not slow down Old Town

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The register system at Preuss Pets collects information from customers such as their zip code and how much was purchased. (Photo by Christine LaRouere)

The register system at Preuss Pets collects information from customers such as their zip code and how much was purchased. (Photo by Christine LaRouere)

By Christine LaRouere
Old Town Lansing Times staff writer 

OLD TOWN LANSING — For Roger Nowland, updates in technology has never been much of a priority for Old Town.

As part of the artisan cooperative for Great Lakes Artworks, he said even though cash registers are for the most part basic, he feels the people come back to Old Town for the not as high tech of service.

“Old town is the original business area of Lansing and because of that, it has revolved into the gallery of different artists, the small theaters and just the older style of commerce,” Nowland said. “I think that is part of the charm of Old Town.”

In regards to the reasons people keep coming back to that old style of service, Nowland said people like that personal touch rather than just one of many in store such as Meijer.

“It’s not high end technology that you would find in Meijer where they are dealing with 500 customers a day,” Nowlamd said and expands in the audio clip below. “Because of that, the fact we do things a little bit slower and in the older way keeps what is going on in the area.”

Even though much of Old Town is not very tech savvy, Lisa Cook, associate professor of economics in international relations at Michigan State University, said technology in a small town is very important in keeping their smaller range of customers happy and wanting to come back.

“Improvements in technology is more important for small business because of inventory,” Cook said. “It is great in making sure you have on hand what you need to sell to your customers. The better you can track that, the better you can make the demand.”

According to the website ‘Everyday Law,’ technology businesses are likely to succeed in small towns by 36 percent compared to nine percent for food and hospitality businesses and five percent for retail industries.

Cook also said small businesses should consider improving their technology because since shopping is moving to online, they need to keep their hook of having what any customer needs on hand.

“People have become more impatient, so Apple and Amazon are the standard by which people are measuring their satisfaction,” Cook said. “They are judging other businesses so no matter how small or large the business is, they have to stay competitive.”

Every business is different

Louise Gradwohl, executive director of the Old Town Commercial Association, said when it comes to the technology in the businesses, there is a wide spread use of cash registers such as traditional to a point of sale register which can collect customers zip codes and how much they are purchasing.

“Several businesses it have the POS system but others are very traditional,” Gradwohl said. “While there are huge benefits from the POS system when it comes to tracking customers, they come at a cost.”

Gradwohl also said businesses with different inventory to not necessarily need the POS system to succeed or find where their customers are coming from.

“Even if businesses don’t do the POS system, they can still track that informational and research things on their own,” Gradwohl said. “For a little gallery, maybe it’s not so important because it isn’t as high tech and they do not have a huge amount of merchandise.”

Although the POS system would help when it comes to tracking customers, Charlie Holcomb, sales associate for Absolute Gallery, said the people that come from all over the country and hear about gallery not from updated technology but more from word of mouth.

“We have people from almost all over the country as some point,” Holcomb said. “With Michigan State being so close, a lot of parents come in from multistate areas and even people come from other countries. Our main source of keeping tabs of customers is from word of mouth.”

For October Moon Art Gallery and Boutique staff member Alicia Trantum, using the POS system has been beneficial in using it to keep track of inventory and sorting through it in a more efficient manner.

“We have the POS system and just switched over to the square for our credit card processing,” Trantum said. “I have worked for a couple stores where we hand inventoried everything once a year and it was not fun, but we don’t do that here thank goodness. It is mainly done through the computer.”

Trantum also said when it comes to the other stores, she is not sure what everyone else uses, but each store should do what fits them best.

“The owners for my past job did things the old school way so it just really depends on what they are comfortable with,” Trantum said. “Every store needs to find what works for them.”

Contact reporter Christine LaRouere: larouerec@gmail.com, 734-536-5237

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