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Snow days: Greater Lansing businesses grapple with winter weather

January 29, 2024
A black cat curiously inspects a coffee mug and cafe visitor at Constellation Cat Cafe on Jan. 28, 2024.
A black cat curiously inspects a coffee mug and cafe visitor at Constellation Cat Cafe on Jan. 28, 2024. —
Photo by Jonah Brown | The State News

Midwesterners are well aware that the summers are blistering and the winters are hypothermic. It's a dual contract of extremity that every Michigander must note when deciding to live here. However, for small businesses across Lansing, the winter weather impacts more than just the roads. 

For many local businesses, winter is the most dreaded time of year.

Editing out gloomy winter skies and replacing them with sunnier scenery, Open Ended Media, or OEM, adopts an attitude of resilience when faced with Michigan's extreme winter elements. Specializing in real estate photography, Open Ended Media is dedicated to bringing film and photography ambitions to life through the real estate market. OEM also takes on general film and photography needs of the Lansing population, according to the owner of Open Ended Media, Caleb Lewis. 

The Open Ended Media office on Jan. 28, 2024.

"We get our best business during the summer, specifically in June, averaging about 95 To 100 houses. In the winter months, we average about anywhere from 20 to 40 houses. We specialize in real estate photography, but we do all kinds of photography," Lewis said.

When the winter fog strikes, OEM gets the last laugh, according to Lewis. 

The Open Ended Media office on Jan. 28, 2024.

"We do free sky swaps. If there are gray skies out, we make them blue," Lewis said.

However, there are some days when Jack Frost makes it difficult for camera equipment to withstand the elements.

"For flying drones, snow is a little bit more operable than rain. Water will take very little time to get in there, and the drone just drops from the sky," Lewis said.

While inclement weather influences instances of drone malfunction, it also plays a larger role in customer commerce.

"While weather is a huge factor because of not being able to fly, weather is even bigger in the sense that people tend to wait for spring or summer to sell their homes," Lewis said. "That's why we try to fill the winter months with headshots, events with our 360 Photo Booth, production, and commercials."

Other small businesses throughout Lansing look forward to the winter months, primarily because of the holidays.

"Our busiest time of year starts with Silver Bells and goes through Christmas," owner of The Peanut Shop Adam Seyburn said.

Co-owner Aaron organizes containers of nuts at The Peanut Store on Jan. 29, 2024.
The peanut-themed interior of The Peanut Store on Jan. 29, 2024.
Three of the many filled containers and shelves at The Peanut Store on Jan. 29, 2024.

Silver Bells, downtown Lansing's holiday parade, marks the time of year when customers start to flock to The Peanut Shop in search of some edible holiday cheer. Moreover, throughout the year, this business sees constant spikes with other seasonal holidays, the most immediate being Valentine's Day.

In terms of severity, winter storms start to impact monthly revenue without warning. Unforgiving ice flurries cause customers to avoid the roads, which limits customer flow in and out of the shop. However, The Peanut Shop witnessed many Michigan winters and has stood the test of time, according to Seyburn.

The outside of The Peanut Shop in Lansing on Jan. 29, 2024.

"The Peanut Shop opened in 1937 in the same location it's in today. We were originally a planters peanut store from 1937 until 1960, an individual retail outlet." Seyburn said. "In 1960, planters decided that they didn't want to have retail shops anymore, and they either closed or sold them to the manager of the shop. The manager here bought it and kept it open. We've been in the same location serving the Lansing metro area for 87 years now this February."

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For feline fanatics within East Lansing, the Constellation Cat Cafe offers a space away from the cold and an opportunity for an especially dynamic duo: cats and coffee.


A black cat takes a nap after entertaining children at a Constellation Cat Cafe birthday party on Jan. 28, 2024.

A small black and white cat curiously pokes his head out from bed to greet visitors at the Constellation Cat Cafe on Jan. 28, 2024.

"Winter is definitely our busiest time of the year at the cat cafe, which we love. If it's cold, everyone wants to grab a latte and cuddle up with a cat," owner of Constellation Cat Cafe, Kelsey Maccombs said.

Cat-themed mugs line the counter at Constellation Cat Cafe on Jan. 28, 2024.

Aside from coffee and cuddles, the Constellation Cat Cafe also offers opportunities to adopt the cats that customers may interact with there. Adoption visits are free, and fees go straight to the rescue partners of the cafe. However, though many adoptions occur in the summer, the cafe exhibits much fewer paid visits, which is why the cafe relies heavily on winter weather to draw customers in. 

"I started the cat cafe in 2019 to support rescues. We’re a 501c3 nonprofit, and we've found homes for over 2000 cats. We work with two rescue partners, Saved by Zade and Happy Feet Pet Rescue. We market and adopt cats on their behalf so they can spend more time saving them," Maccombs said.

While winter weather is unpredictable, three things are certain in Lansing: blue skies, peanuts and mocha latte meows.


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