The Meridian Township Planning Commission discussed plans for a new bank that if approved for rezoning will be located at the Meridian Mall in front of Macy’s. The proposal states the building will encompass 2,500 square feet, feature two drive-thru tellers and one ATM lane. The bank will also include 25 parking spots and two access driveways that will connect to the southside of Mall Drive. Construction will begin in 2021.
The proposed location at 1982 Grand River Ave. Okemos, Michigan.
The 2020 presidential election consumed social media platforms for weeks leading up to Nov. 3. Public diplomacy allows anyone with a social media account to publish an opinion or claim fact, and Okemos voters recognized the role this played in voter intimidation. The global pandemic caused 65 million people to send in their votes early via mail. Although this method decreases exposure to other people in the forms of COVID-19 and voter intimidation, the polarized social media posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter leading up to the election left first-time voters and MSU senior Abigail Scroggie frustrated.
The entrance to the Meridian Large Dog Park, located at 1990 Central Park Dr. in Okemos, is open to residents of the township and non-residents. Online registration is now available for Meridian Township’s dog parks, including a new off-leash large dog park. The new park, which opened in September, is located behind the mall at Central Park South. The large dog park is for dogs over 30 pounds, while the small dog park, which opened June 2019, is located at Nancy Moore Park at 1960 Gaylord C Smith Ct., East Lansing, is for dogs under 30 pounds. About 100 dogs registered for the large dog park and 250 registered for the small dog park, said Parks and Recreation Director LuAnn Meisner.
Annual park fee
According to a press release, owners registering their dog will pay an annual fee to maintain the parks’ high standards.
The Spirit Halloween in Okemos takes over the empty Younkers department store in Meridian Mall from late August to early November, providing local residents like Robin Garrett and her family an opportunity to find costumes for her neighborhood’s socially-distanced trick-or-treating. Despite the curtailed Halloween plan, Garrett’s daughters were excited about the costumes they bought at Spirit Halloween. “I like it, the girls like it,” Garrett said. “We always go there, you’ll find us looking around.”
Spirit Halloween sets up in Meridian Mall as a temporary store each year. Photo by Kamryn Romano
In an article by the National Retail Federation, Spirit Halloween CEO Steven Silverstein said that even though Halloween looks different this year, a majority of the 1,300 stores nationwide are still open.
Spirit Halloween has received criticism for its business model, and some wonder how they’ve survived this long.
The Meridian Mall Food Court entrance has the mall’s COVID-19 protective measures and protocols posted on it. (Photo/Isaiah Hall)
While there were challenges of operating a business during the pandemic, retailers in the Meridian Mall have been able to sustain their business because of its transition to new customer service approaches.
“The closures also provided an opportunity for innovation,” said Stacey Keating, senior director of public relations & corporate communications at CBL Properties, the Tennessee-based company that owns the Meridian Mall. “Many retailers quickly launched curbside delivery programs and restaurants ramped up their delivery and curbside takeout options. “New delivery and curbside programs are continuing to evolve and we expect this to be a trend into the holiday season and beyond. As restrictions were lifted and malls reopened, we’ve seen traffic slowly build, and retailers have reported that sales are healthy and conversion rates are high.”
Shoppers have more cash
Businesses in the mall credit part of the reason why the conversion rates — the percentage of users who visit the mall who purchase goods or services — are high is that people have more money in their pockets, said Kris Vezino, Meridian Mall Sunglass Hut Store manager.
As Okemos residents and nearby college students dive into school and work, they are able to nurture their physical and mental health with workouts outside of their homes. Powerhouse Gym Okemos employee Katie Boncore said the gym is taking a multitude of precautions to remain COVID-safe. “The gym is currently enforcing the six feet social distancing rules with every other cardio machine turned off, markers on the floor and all machines distanced,” Boncore said. There are sanitation stations set up very frequently in the gym — these include hand sanitizers, buckets of wipes, spray bottles and towels. On top of that, Boncore said the gym is enforcing the governor’s mask mandate, along with the 25% capacity rules.
COVID-19 has created chaos all over the world, including a place you might not expect: grocery stores. Shoppers have been scrambling to buy whatever is left, but there isn’t much. “I’m here ‘til like 10 and I don’t see it slowing down that much,” Meijer employee Dylan S. said. But the hot commodity isn’t a run on turkeys, it’s toilet paper. “Every store you go to, it seems like everyone’s bought toilet paper,” Jean Schlicklin said. “They’re trying to restock them, but they can’t get them restocked quick enough.”
Toilet paper isn’t the only thing people have stocked up on.
Upon entering the cafeteria, the smells of chicken, pizza and wings filled the air. These smells are sponsored by the many restaurants in town that volunteered to cater the Taste of Okemos event at Okemos High School for the Okemos Choir. On Oct. 12, around 16 booths were lined up around the cafeteria. In the middle there were decorated tables where people can sit.