Each year, East Lansing’s downtown transforms as the holiday season approaches, to not only boost holiday spirit, but the local economy, city officials and experts said.
What starts as simply putting banners on streetlights along main streets in the city culminates in a large festival called Winter Glow, which draws 2,000-3,000 people to the downtown area, East Lansing Community Events Assistant and Market Manager Michelle Carlson said.
The Dec. 1 event, along with other events in the downtown, open up businesses for increased holiday season revenue.
Because of university breaks, the businesses here have developed different sales patterns to make the most out of the shopping season.
Mad Eagle, 301 M.A.C. Avenue manager Tara Green said the Green Friday event, which takes place a day after students arrive in East Lansing from going home for Thanksgiving, is a good way for the boutique to increase revenue after a previously slow week due to students’ absence.
“It’s downtown East Lansing’s answer to Black Friday,” Green said. “That’s something we like to do to generate some more shopping in the downtown.”
Lansing will celebrate the holidays with Silver Bells, happening tonight, including a large ceremonial tree lighting in front of the Capitol.
“Winter Glow is considered our equivalent of (Silver Bells),” Environmental Service Administrator Cathy DeShambo said. “The goal every year is to make the downtown as inviting as possible … and make it something people look forward to seeing.”
Although the Winter Glow event is free for residents and students to attend, the city will most likely get a strong financial benefit from the event, advertising, public relations and retailing professor Nora Rifon said.
In a world where online shopping incentives during the holidays are high and shopping malls might seem more appealing, Rifon said events, such as Winter Glow and Green Friday, are important to keep a lively downtown.
“We’re in a society now where downtown shopping has to compete with mall shopping,” Rifon said. “People have gravitated to malls for parking and the convenience they offer. Downtowns don’t have them in access.”
Although festivals like Winter Glow might not cater directly to students, sociology junior Mary Catherine Kwilos said they still offer opportunities to support local business, and enjoy the city in a new way.
“I do live here, and if I’m going to be here for four years, I might as well support my city,” Kwilos said.