Ann Arbor businesses battle to stay afloat as U-M campus empties

Bars and restaurants in downtown Ann Arbor usually bank on college kids and big crowds at the Big House to bring in profits.

Those college kids are heading home, and fans are not flocking to town for football games. Now longtime establishments are looking at uncertain futures.

“With the dining room shut down we can focus on the other things, we’re hoping to increase our chocolate sale increase our coffee sales. Not a lot of people know we have an espresso bar," said Sarah Seta, Michigan Creamery owner. "We can do a lot when it comes to ice cream and coffee.”

The Michigan Creamery on State Street in Ann Arbor is an ice cream shop near U of M’s campus but they do so much more. And they are letting customers who are still around, know that's how they plan to stay afloat - as the campus foot traffic changes dramatically.
"We do hit drink floats in the wintertime which are amazing," she said. “We’re still here offering everything we did offer and more."

Like many businesses dealing with pandemic restrictions, the bottom line has suffered.

Plus, Friday is the last day of classes for University of Michigan undergrad students before Thanksgiving break.
Students have until Sunday to move out of undergraduate dorms which are closing and all classes for the winter semester will move online - with a few exceptions.

“It has dropped significantly we’re plugging through to make it work,” she said. 

Also when her store shuts down around the holidays they may stay closed for a bit longer depending on the pandemic 
Staffing also taking a hit

“We employ primarily all students, so when shutdowns happen we lose staff we did lose I think, three employees," she said.

Verbena, a clothing store is also near the heart of campus. It is also heavily focused on students and stocking clothing that appeals to that clientele reading the cards. 

“Like every business we’ve been offering curbside,” said Cady Asburry, Verbena manager.

They’ve Increased cleaning, offered sanitizer and are watching capacity, but remain hopeful. 

“I think most business owners are probably little bit worried about students being gone we’re worried," Asbury said. "But I think alot of us are trying to adapt and go online and finding new ways to bring in customers.”

Many businesses are pivoting to online as an additional revenue stream.