Orange barrels driving business away in Okemos
Community helps keep doors open
LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Anyone who has to get through Okemos driving on Grand River Avenue or Okemos Road knows what a challenge it can be. Some are just avoiding the area entirely.
Most drivers and business owners on Grand River Avenue said they welcome improved roads, but that’s not the cause of their concern. The question is when will the improvements be completed? From the pandemic to several months of construction, they said business isn’t as good as it could be.
“We did OK but yes it’s a letdown. I think the numbers would have been higher,” said Brandon Decker, co owner at Mert’s Specialty Meats in Okemos.
Decker said despite losing money, the community kept their doors open during construction season.
“We have a really loyal customer base and I know they’ve gone out of their way, literally, to make sure they support us during these times. I think a lot of our neighbors have had it a lot worse than we have,” said Decker.
And Decker is right. Just up the road, Lotte Market’s owner Jay Park said he’s lost about 40% in sales. His customer base is older and they’ve been avoiding the orange barrels as much as possible.
Playmakers said they’ve been OK this summer – people have not stopped coming in. The manager, DJ McMillan, said that’s because Grand River Avenue isn’t the only way their customers can access the building.
“It’s been probably a little less convenient for people to get to us but we’ve got other access points on Hamilton from Okemos as well as Grand River as well as Indian Hills the neighborhood behind us to get to Mt. Hope,” said McMillan.
But it hasn’t been that easy for other businesses along Grand River.
Right now, Decker is working with Meridian Township Manager Frank Walsh, MDOT, and a state representative to make Grand River construction a priority.
“All the other corridors that used to have less traffic have more traffic now so it really isn’t an easy way to get here and having so many different projects going on in the same community I know it’s been difficult for residents and businesses,” said Decker.
Business owners said 105 days of road construction has caused profits to decrease 15% to 30% or more – dating back to the peak of COVID.
To encourage foot traffic, the Meridian Area Business Association will host Mob the Roadblock on August 31, 2022.
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