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.
Delhi Charter Township has started an initiative called Realize Cedar and they are looking towards its residents for new ideas on how to improve Holt’s downtown area, specifically the triangle of Cedar Street, Holt Road and Aurelius Road. The study has three ways people can give input; offer a big idea, prioritize goals, and answer poll questions. The former allows people to write the township. Prioritize goals lets residents of the area tell the township what is most important to them. Finally ,the poll lets citizens vote and see the results of important considerations such as retail, bike paths, larger sidewalks and restaurants.
For decades, the birth and growth of small businesses has kept Williamston’s downtown alive, but they continue to encounter challenges. “I think Williamston now has more small businesses than they ever had,” said Barb Vandenberg, former chamber of commerce president and downtown development authority chair. There are more large chain businesses in town than in the past, but small businesses are a crucial element of Williamston’s economy. A business owner herself and 24-year resident of Williamston, Vandenberg has seen the town go through many changes. Along the rollercoaster track that is the small business sector, Williamston business owners continuously strive to bring the community together and add value to the unique town.
By Cynthia Lee
Old Town Lansing Times Staff Reporter
When first entering Old Town, at first it can be considered an inviting neighborhood. After touring an area filled with booming businesses, clean streets, upscale townhouses you reach the end of the street, and it all comes to a screeching halt entering the poverty-stricken area of Lansing. With newly high-end homes right next door to old low-income housing, Old Town is a prime example of gentrification. But is that a bad thing? Lansing resident William Blanchard doesn’t think it is.
By Skyler Ashley
Bath-DeWitt Connection staff reporter
Price is undoubtedly an important factor in choosing clothing. Unfortunately, not everyone has the means to buy whatever he or she likes. Are the idiosyncratic thrift shoppers and the lower-income demographic of DeWitt to be left behind with junk? Visiting DeWitt’s Goodwill store at Clark Corners at almost any given moment proves it is a popular destination within the community. Finding its connection with DeWitt citizens is decidedly interesting.
A new retail showroom, The Runway, seems to be opening doors of opportunity for Michigan residents. The Runway is a Lansing Economic Area Partnership-funded program for aspiring designers, and is located in the heart of downtown Lansing in The Knapp’s Centre at 300 S. Washington Square. According to the Runway website, designers must first go through the application process in order to get involved. An employee of the retail showroom, Meleena Herring, said that the program is a fashion incubator that is meant to help build the economy, but also provide help to young entrepreneurs by building their business in Michigan. “We do provide the designers opportunities with industry professionals to where they can schedule office hours and get one-on-one business consulting type thing—and we have people from the fashion industry as well as other business professionals in the financial arena, legal help as well,” Herring said.
As countless consumers struggle to coordinate perfect plans and gifts for their significant others on Valentine’s Day, the pressure is multiplied for local businesses once Feb. 14 begins to roll around each year. “Valentine’s Day is a huge, huge deal. We’ll do probably six weeks’ worth of business for this holiday,” said Dawn-Marie Joseph, owner of Vivee’s Floral Garden and Café, 142 W. Grand River Ave. For Joseph and her employees, preparation for Valentine’s Day begins on New Year’s Day each year with organizing candy boxes and arrangements.
By CELESTE BOTT
LANSING – Retail sales have yo-yoed in recent months, including a dip in December, but Michigan businesses say their overall holiday sales improved from 2011. But the challenge now is overcoming a significant sales decline at the end of the year. Fifty-four percent of retailers reported better holiday sales than in 2011, while 30 percent reported declines. The Michigan Retail Index, a joint project of the Michigan Retailers Association and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, measures the performance of the state’s retail industry. Data is based on the Federal Reserve and the association’s monthly membership surveys.
Michigan’s small businesses rely on recent changes in legislative measures and consumer trends to survive. The state government’s new focus on growing businesses from within is key to the success of local businesses in Michigan. Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) President and CEO Rob Fowler said that the state government administration’s move toward economic gardening or, growing businesses within Michigan instead of looking for business elsewhere, is key to job creation in Michigan. “People tend to think that job creation only happens when there’s a big company in town,” he said. After SBAM promoted economic gardening to Gov. Rick Snyder, it was included in his state of the state address in January as part of his plan to improve Michigan.