As temperatures drop, so do sales in Old Town

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By Sergio Martínez-Beltrán
Old Town Lansing Times Staff Reporter

Winters in Michigan can be rough and unbearable, and not residents but businesses are affected during the season.

Old Town Lansing is not the exception.

Lambs’ Gate Antiques owner Carol Lamb said she sees a decrease in sales during the colder months.

“We are still pretty good in January, towards the end of January it slows down,” Lamb said. “People are tired of shopping.”

The store, located at 1219 Turner St., specializes in all sorts of antiques from across Michigan.

“The worst months are January, February and March, because you know you have to walk around and people are wimpy,” Lamb said.

But this winter might be a warmer winter when compared to others, MLive Chief of Meteorology Mark Torregrossa said.

Torregrossa said the phenomenon of El Niño, the weather phenomenon that warms up the waters of the Pacific, will play a pivotal role this winter.

“Michigan has 70 percent to be warmer than normal conditions and dryer conditions,” Torregrossa said. “El Niño has a strong effect on the Michigan winter … The stronger the El Niño, the stronger effect it will have.”

Torregrossa stressed out that, even when the predictions say it will be a milder winter, Michigan will see around 25 inches of snow and temperatures in the mid 20s to lower 40s degrees Fahrenheit.

Old Town General Store owner Rhea Van Atta said it is hard to plan for the unpredictable weather in Michigan.

“Because it is unpredictable anyway, there is nothing you can do,” Van Atta said. “You have to go with the flow.”

Van Atta said she uses social media to communicate with her clients in case the store needs to remain close due to a snow day or harsh conditions.

“After Christmas season (sales) typically slow down,” Van Atta said.

But the snow is a recurrent problem that could have an impact on making people stay away from the neighborhood.

“The biggest problem we have with the roads is that all the snow gets put in the gutters on the street and the city doesn’t scoop it fast enough,” Lamb said.

The shop owner said she has to shove her own snow as an attempt to keep the sidewalks clean and safe for the pedestrians that might stop at her shop.

In case of a snow day, Lamb said the most important thing is to communicate with her costumers.

She said she follows regular, scheduled hours and, when a snow day comes up, leaves a note in front of the store announcing the store will be closed that day.

Polka Dots Boutique owner Jennie Hinze said she hopes the online sales will alleviate the decrease on in-person sales that happens during the winter.

But the Old Town Commercial Association tries to attract people to the community as an attempt to help the community and the businesses during the colder months.

“The Old Town Commercial Association does chocolate walk just before Valentines Day,” Lamb said. “Everything that they do really helps us.”

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