Friday, December 9, 2022

Orange barrels drive away business in Okemos


LANSING, Mich. (WILX) – Anyone who has to cross Okemos driving on Grand River Avenue or Okemos Road knows what a challenge it can be. Some are simply avoiding the area altogether.

More: WILX News 10 Live Traffic Map

Most drivers and business owners on Grand River Avenue said they welcome the improved roads, but that’s not the cause of their concern. The question is when will the improvements be completed? From the pandemic to months of construction, they said business isn’t as good as it could be.

“We did well, but yes, it’s a failure. I think the numbers would have been higher,” said Brandon Decker, co-owner at Mert’s Specialty Meats in Okemos.

Decker said that despite losing money, the community kept its doors open during the 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 us,” Decker said.

And Decker is right. Down the road, Lotte Market owner Jay Park said he has lost about 40% in sales. His customer base is older and they have avoided the orange barrels as much as possible.

Playmakers said they were good this summer – people haven’t stopped coming. The manager, DJ McMillan, said that’s because Grand River Avenue isn’t the only way their customers can enter the building.

“It’s been maybe a little less convenient for people to come to us, but we have other access points to Hamilton from Okemos as well as Grand River as well as Indian Hills neighborhood behind us to get to Mount Hope,” McMillan said. .

But it hasn’t been so easy for other businesses along the Grand River.

Right now, Decker is working with Meridian Township Manager Frank Walsh, MDOT, and a state representative to make the Grand River construction a priority.

“All the other corridors that had less traffic now have more traffic, so it’s not an easy way to get here and to have so many different projects in the same community, I know it’s been difficult for residents and businesses.” Decker said.

Business owners said the 105 days of road construction have seen profits drop 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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