Local Businesses Eager for Holiday Shoppers

By: Sherene Tagharobi Email
By: Sherene Tagharobi Email

Mari Lin Pettit runs and co-owns Pettit Hardware. It's a family business that's been around for 125 years.

"My grandfather, my great grandfather, my father and his brother, and now I run it and my brother and two sisters and I own it," she said.

The store has survived two world wars and the Great Depression, but five generations in, it's hardly hanging on.

"We're cut back as far as we can as far as personnel goes. We're really careful about our inventory," she said.

The downturn is a sign of the times, but not entirely. The Eaton Rapids Chamber of Commerce says Main Street construction lasting the better part of this year hasn't helped, forcing some downtown businesses to relocate and others to shut down completely.

"I think a lot of people were avoiding downtown," said Don Wyckoff, the Chamber's executive director. "You know how it is when you see orange barrels. You go the other way."

Nearly 20,000 cars pass through downtown every day. But for local businesses, it's a matter of getting them to stop.

"We're hoping that kicking off the Christmas season, the shopping season, people will because of the beauty of downtown stop in and shop their local businesses," said Wyckoff.

It should be easier to do with construction over -- paving the way for one of downtown's biggest draws: its annual Hometown Family Christmas Parade.

"There was the Memorial Day Parade and Fourth of July which are pretty large parades in our community and they had to be cancelled because of the construction," Wyckoff said.

"With the roads open and people starting to stop in more often, and it's easier to park, things are picking up," Pettit said.

The parade started at 6 p.m. Saturday evening.

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