Local music, book stores see changes to E.L. after four decades
While businesses in East Lansing come and go, two small shops have been in their current locations for more than 39 years, and the owners of both businesses have seen their fair share of changes throughout East Lansing and MSU as time went on.
Curious Book Shop has been located at 307 E. Grand River Ave. for 44 years, owner Ray Walsh said.
“There are certainly significant changes in downtown East Lansing,” Walsh said. “One of the things we would like to see happen is the businesses on the corner—the empty buildings on the corner of Abbot and Grand River—we would like to see those torn down.”
Curious Book Shop boasts three floors of old books, magazines, comic books and more in its 18 by 100 foot niche on Grand River Avenue.
Walsh said the market in East Lansing has stayed constant through time. He said he is happy to see different art-related businesses open their doors to East Lansing residents and students.
“There have been a number of restaurants that have come and gone and some of the craft-related businesses are still here — the art galleries. We enjoy having creative minds close by,” Walsh said. “The Broad Art Museum has certainly added more influence to us as well, more customers, more people that are looking for things. So, that’s been an asset to the community.”
Flat, Black and Circular will be in the Campus Town Mall for 40 years this September, co-founder Dave Bernath said. He and manager John Howard have seen a big change in the music scene in East Lansing and on MSU's campus.
Howard said there used to be more live concerts on campus in the MSU Auditorium or the Erickson Hall Kiva that featured local and national acts.
"They used to have all kinds of stuff, they don't have it anymore," Bernath said. "There's no live music in town either. ... They'd have one or two concerts a year in the auditorium."
Howard said the Red Hot Chili Peppers played at Rick's American Cafe in the past. Musicians wanted to come to the area to play for Michigan residents and MSU students.
"There used to be a lot more cool jazz or blues people that came through," Howard said.
Bernath said those days are over.
Walsh also said MSU adding more dining options on campus has affected how often students leave campus.
“It used to be people were looking for food and they had to come across Grand River. Now they can eat, more or less, in the dorms," Walsh said. “They don’t come across the street anymore, comparatively. They do come for the bars, and that’s nice, or the restaurants.”