‘I’m so glad we took this on’ -- Lansing business, opened during pandemic, celebrating anniversary

Published: Mar. 11, 2022 at 2:45 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - There are not many who would have advised opening a new business during the height of the pandemic, but that’s exactly what the owners of Nelson Art Gallery did.

The gallery is a straightforward business: It showcases fine art from 14 different artists for sale and browsing, with pieces including ceramics, fibers, prints and paintings.

When the gallery opened its doors in March 2021, the outlook for small businesses was grim. Total small business revenue in Michigan had decreased by 34% compared to January 2020. Even now, the pandemic continues to have a significant negative impact on Downtown Lansing foot traffic, with the state officially entering into the ‘recovery’ phase of the omicron surge just Friday.

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Despite COVID’s best efforts, Nelson Gallery will mark its one-year anniversary with a birthday celebration.

Jen Estill, one of the gallery owners, says the event is not only to celebrate the gallery’s growth, but to celebrate all Downtown Lansing businesses that launched or remained open during the pandemic.

“Opening an art gallery during a global pandemic is either optimism or delusion. In our case, it might’ve been a little bit of both,” Estill said. “We opened Nelson Gallery because we believe art plays an integral role in establishing culture and a sense of place. And now, after we’ve made it through the first year, I’m so glad we took this on.”

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The event will be held at the gallery, located at 113 S. Washington Square in Downtown Lansing. Proprietors Jen and John Estill say it will be celebrating the success of any Lansing business that made it through the pandemic as much as The Nelson Gallery.

“While the past two years have been challenging for downtown, there have been a number of bright spots that emerged during the pandemic,” said Cathleen Edgerly, executive director of Downtown Lansing Inc. “Nelson Gallery, along with other retailers like Social Sloth, Middle Village and Sweet Encounter Bakery and Cafe have brought new offerings to the area and helped us keep up the momentum downtown. With businesses like these, we are confident that we will be able to draw people to downtown as a culture and cuisine destination.”

Nelson Gallery’s one-year anniversary celebration is open to the public, and will be held on Thursday, March 17 from 4:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. A ceremonial ribbon cutting will take place at 4:30 p.m.

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