The Holly Cruise to Battle All...
HOLLY, Michigan – Last week marked the final Cruise to Battle Alley for 2012, and although they all agree that it’s a quality show, several business owners have concerns over what impact the weekly street closures have on businesses in downtown Holly.
Among those business owners voicing their opinions during the Oct. 9 Village Council meeting was Janet Leslie, owner of the Holly Spirit Shop.
“I like the event because it’s a free event that attracts families to our downtown,” Leslie began. “However, I’m sure you’ve heard from business owners that have said that it really doesn’t benefit business, and that’s relatively true as the car show is now.”
When a large crowd of spectators is present at a given show, business owners reap the benefits, Leslie said. However, when the crowd is small, classic car owners don’t often patronize the downtown businesses enough to warrant the street closure.
“They close our downtown a minimum of 20 days a year, which is pretty significant,” Leslie said. “Were this something like the antique show that holds an event only two times per year, there wouldn’t be as much concern when they close down the streets, and the impact it might have on a given business, but 20 days out of a year – that’s a whole month of business days.”
As a way to get more spectators to the show, Leslie suggested the village ask car show coordinators if or how they intend to promote the event as a condition for approving the event application.
Cathy Bateman, owner of My Sweet Holly said she doesn’t typically see a huge surge of business from the weekly car show, and has concerns about the street closure times.
“They’re supposed to close (the street) down from 5 until 8 p.m. and they have been closing it down at 3,” Bateman said, adding that she’s had customers say they have been told they cannot park in front of her store as early as 3 p.m. “I would just hope you could address that,” she told council members.
Fellow merchant John Shoemaker, owner of A Simpler Time, also had concerns, but offered a different alternative to consider.
“If you look at the statistics – I did the math, and about 17 percent of the shopping time is consumed during the summer hours by the car show,” he said.
While the weekly summertime car shows are always held on South Saginaw Street between E. Maple Street and Battle Alley, Shoemaker suggested rotating the show to other areas of the village throughout the summer.
In addition to holding the event in its normal location, Shoemaker suggested moving the show southward over the railroad tracks, taking advantage of the shaded street, and allowing people to still be within a block of downtown shopping. As a third location, Shoemaker suggested utilizing the Holly Mill area from Civic Drive to the Post Office. A fourth rotation, Shoemaker said could be on the north end of the village, giving Happy’s Pizza, McDonalds, Hills Gold Exchange and other businesses the opportunity to see an increase in foot traffic. As a fifth village venue, Shoemaker suggested utilizing the Broad Street area, specifically the park area adjacent to the railroad tracks, Broad Street in front of Broadstreet Station Pub and Grub and Battle Alley.
“Rotating is something that everyone can benefit from, and it brings us down to using 3 to 4 percent of the shopping time down the main strip throughout the rotations,” Shoemaker said. “We don’t have to kill it – it’s a great event, it’s a classy event, and it’s become a family event which is what we’re all about in this town.”
In the months ahead, Village Manager Jerry Walker said he would meet with car show coordinators to discuss street closure times, as well as the possibility for rotating to different areas in the village throughout the summer. “I know the group is pretty set in staying downtown, but compromise might be something we can reach.”