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Lansing holds first-ever BLOCK:AID event in wake of pandemic

Some vendors opened right before the pandemic, and many depend on events like this to make their income.
Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 11:19 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Downtown Lansing held its first-ever BLOCK:AID event, blocking downtown streets to aid businesses in their bounce back from the pandemic.

“It’s getting people comfortable being out,” Michelle Detering, owner of Michelle Detering Art, said. “I think this is helpful with that. It’s starting to feel like things are getting back to normal a bit.”

Some vendors opened right before the pandemic, and many depend on events like this to make their income.

“We definitely had to get creative with the way we did things,” Jennifer Medler, Head Chef at Flour Box Bakery said. “This is a great alternative way to do business and get your name out there.”

And with more exposure comes the need for more workers. Michigan State students feel this event could help lure students away from East Lansing to new work opportunities in the capital city.

“Giving them a way to see what’s available, literally in front of them, is a great way to give people ideas and say ‘Hey, you don’t have to stick in one spot,’ you can venture out a little bit,” said MSU Student Benjamin Cook. “I know Lansing is not venturing out that much, but it’s exciting still.”

Businesses are looking for ways to bring not only in workers but customers too. By closing down streets, BLOCK:AID is opening up eyes to new places to spend money.

“Just like that axe place behind me, they said they just opened a new place right before COVID which is always hard,” said MSU Student Reese Lanfear. “Definitely getting exposure through this and bringing more people in now that things are opening back up.”

As more events like this happen this summer, it can bring positive revenue but playing catch up financially, and trying to hire staff, may continue to be an issue.

“I think Lansing needs more such kind of events, more family-oriented things in downtown so it will help all businesses, especially the local businesses,” said Burcay Gunguler, Owner of Social Sloth Cafe & Bakery. “It will affect all of us.”

Other events happening in the Lansing area this summer are the Lansing Beer Fest, the East Lansing Summer Solstice Jazz Festival, and the Lansing 5:01 Dam Jam.

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