EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – While Michigan State University students are busy packing up and hitting the road, East Lansing businesses are bracing for another summer without the student crowd.
The streets on Grand River Avenue are quieter. There’s no school, no students, and no foot traffic.
It’s something Curious Book Shop and Archives Book Shop Owner Ray Walsh is no stranger to.
“I started in East Lansing at the ‘Curious Book Shop,'” Walsh said. “We moved to that location in 1973 and we’ve been selling books ever since.”
He said although there are still some people who stop in, business surely slows.
“There are 25,000 students that are not here anymore,” the owner said. “So, we certainly notice a difference. We’re certainly glad when they come back to school in the fall.”
And city officials have noticed, too.
“There’s a certain amount of energy you get with young people and the students that come during the fall and remains throughout the school year through the spring,” East Lansing Interim City Manager Randall Talifarro said. “But that can begin to kind of become dormant.”
This is why the empty streets downtown are beginning to see a return of some familiar events. This includes ‘Albert El Fresco,’ the city’s pedestrian-friendly area.
Officials said it’s all to increase foot traffic, stay active, and keep businesses afloat.
“This brings people back,” Talifarro said. “It keeps those who might go home…maybe they go home for perhaps slightly less period of time than they would ordinarily. And they come back sooner so they can also enjoy some of these events.”
Business owners added people might even find something new.
“Some people aren’t aware that there’s so many different businesses available and shopping opportunities downtown,” Walsh said.
City officials continued that they’ve only heard great feedback.
“We are trying to do these things to keep people young and keep people engaged,” the interim city manager said. “And I think our community really appreciates that.”
Activities are set to start soon, with Albert El Fresco kicking off May 11 and the East Lansing Art Festival starting May 20 and 21.