Living in the Ledge Staff Reporter
As Michigan continues its economic recovery, small businesses still struggle to survive. Grand Ledge offers many businesses that have managed to survive some of the toughest economic times.
Some of the local businesses in Grand Ledge such as MacDowell’s, About the Home, Sophia’s House of Pancakes and more have managed to stay in business even after Michigan’s big economic issues back in 2008 and 2009.
This upcoming June will be five years in business for the women’s clothing store Big Purple Bloomers. The shop in downtown Grand Ledge is owned by Marilyn Sample. Sample’s granddaughter, Cassey Stornat, said Sample loves being in Grand Ledge.
“My grandmother would not relocate because she loves the small-town feeling,” said Stornat.
Diane Smith said it is important for businesses in a small town to follow certain patterns. Smith is a Michigan State University Extension educator who has expert roles in sustainable community, business development and economic development. Smith said local businesses should be relatable to the community.
“Staying in touch with the community is important for businesses in small towns,” said Smith. “Showing their support for the community.”
Stornat said when events such as craft days, are going on downtown, the store gets a lot of traffic.
Smith said a company’s biggest downfall in a small town would be depending on local traffic to increase sales. Stornat said that is not the case for Big Purple Bloomers.
“We are located between two restaurants; most of our traffic depends on their customers, waiting for food,” said Stornat.
Smith said a company should also try selling beyond just its local community. Times are changing and it is a business owner’s duty to keep up with technology.
Big Purple Bloomers does not have an online shop; however, Stornat said their customers come back because of the unique things the store offers.
“I believe our business does well because our customers know they can’t find our merchandise in the bigger cities,” said Stornat.
“Customer loyalty is what small towns are all about,” said Smith. “Creating those personal relations and experiences to bring customers coming back.”
Said Nick Waligora: “I still drive 30 minutes out just to get Sophia’s House of Pancakes, or go down and just shop,” Waligora lived in Grand Ledge for three years before moving to East Lansing.
To get started with business ownership in Grand Ledge, visit the Small Business Development Center.