Grand Ledge business owners survive, adapt, move forward

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Pam’s Pantry has been a staple in Grand Ledge, Michigan for over 20 years. Photo Credit: Taylor Jenkins

Grand Ledge businesses are trying to move past the pandemic after a long two years.
Businesses in Grand Ledge had mixed experiences during COVID-19. Some businesses enjoyed long months off, while others had to adapt and are still recovering.

One business that didn’t suffer during COVID-19 was Preston’s Bar which has been around for over 100 years. Owner Laney Preston explained why he enjoyed the pandemic.

“It was like going on vacation. Financially it didn’t affect us at all. We were different than most places.”

Other businesses lost their main source of income. Pam Redman, the owner of Pam’s Pantry explained how they struggled during the pandemic.

“We lost our main source of income…from craft shows and we do a lot of fundraisers for schools…In 2020 we lost every single craft show we did. We lost our entire book of business.”

Businesses like Pam’s Pantry made it through the pandemic, but it took a lot of work.

“You’re going to survive but I felt like we worked harder than longer than even being home. We were in here every day doing everything we can to push sales and simply stay alive,” Redman said.

Limiting contact was a common theme throughout Grand Ledge businesses. Wendy Cornish of Comet Nutrition explained how restrictions impacted her business when she first opened her store during the pandemic.

“It was slow, but we did curbside,” Cornish said, “Because we were one of the only companies open because we were deemed essential employees….we probably saw 15 to 20 customers a day.”

Redman, amongst other business owners, had to adapt and make it work. Gift baskets were a way that Pam’s Pantry stayed alive.

“We did a lot of gift baskets and we delivered…We only had two of us at a time. My daughter-in-law and me, so we stayed at different parts in the back,” Redman said.

Owner Pam Redman of Pam’s Pantry shows off her baked goods. Photo Credit: Taylor Jenkins

The businesses that stayed open during COVID-19 in Grand Ledge did relatively well because of limited options, but that began to change when businesses started to open back up.

“They were going to places that they couldn’t go before. They were missing other chain restaurants so my business dipped,” Cornish said.

Wendy Cornish, owner of Comet Nutrition. Photo Credit: Taylor Jenkins

Cancun Mexican Grill also had to handle many restrictions during COVID-19. Raul Arias, who has served for 10 years, explained how difficult it was when the restaurant was allowed to reopen to enforce restrictions.

“People didn’t want to wear a mask, so they were giving us a hard time. Making them wear masks when they didn’t want to. So there’s nothing you can do.”

One consequence that has come out of the pandemic is the rising prices. Arias said prices of merchandise have gone up over 200% at Cancun Mexican Grill since the pandemic. This also has affected Pam’s Pantry.

“For the first time in 20 years we had to raise our prices because our supplies have quadrupled in price.” Redman said.

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