Keep downtown doors open

Nov 30, 2012


Drive into Grand Haven's charming downtown on any given weeknight during the Christmas season and you'll be greeted by warm and inviting lights, colorful holiday decorations, and plenty of "Closed" signs.

At a time when shoppers are out in full force, attempting to find the perfect Christmas gifts for family and friends, we're always eager to support local businesses whenever possible. Unfortunately, that becomes difficult when many of the quaint downtown shops don't keep their doors open past 5 p.m.

They're not all closed. A few neon signs still glow "Open" after 7 p.m., but not many. Most are restaurants, although a few shops are also open for business well into the evening.

Imagine the frustration of those who do remain open, hoping to draw in holiday shoppers. That would be much easier to do if a larger percentage of stores on the few blocks of Washington Avenue remained open.

We understand that it's not the easiest task for these small stores to extend their hours. They're family-owned operations. Staying open late means working longer hours, or spending the money to hire more help.

It's certainly a double-edged sword for these business owners who are attempting to maintain a healthy balance between work and family, attempting to keep overhead costs low, and still draw enough customers to keep the cash flow flowing.

It's not easy, but it would be a great benefit to our downtown, which is already hindered because of the limited types of goods available.

Looking for specialty jewelry, fun toys for the kids, trendy clothes, gourmet food selections and other somewhat unusual gifts? You should be able to find them downtown.

Plus, there's something more romantic, more charming and more rewarding about the small shops that make up our downtown. When you buy from a local business, you're making a difference in your community.

We would encourage holiday shoppers to give these downtown businesses a look over the next few weeks.

At the same time, we encourage the businesses to make it easier for shoppers by keeping your doors open later.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.



The reason there not open is because of the amout of shoping at the Lakes Mall compared to downtown Grand Haven. Yet heres an article about the Centertown survey.

Downtown Everyday

Tried shopping on a Sunday in the summer? Many businesses have limited if any shopping hours at all, and that's when tourists and locals who have time on the weekends are looking to shop. So, why would they come out of their way for holiday shopping?


Why do I think that maybe the small business owners are in a better position to determine it is in their best interest to decide what hours are best for their bottom line, both financially and familial, than the editors of the local newspaper or commenters? Maybe they have taken into consideration the impact of impending tax increases on their decision - just sayin . . . .


Sorta agree with Vladtheimp, however it is the holiday season and may an hour or so later at night during the season and 9 am instead of 10 am on Saturday. I had to go to a bib box store to get something I was going to by form a local merchant becasue they were not open until 10am.


I totally agree with the last two comments, private business owners have the rights and privilege at least today, to decide on when to be closed or open. Spending time with the family, and friends or honoring there personal faith just might be more important, then being open a few hours on Sunday or late in the day. Even successful and professional business people have earned that right, unless of course the government would like to take that away, coming soon?


The premise that specialty retail businesses do not extend their hours during the height of holiday shopping is linked to taxes in any way is ridiculous - preposterous even! Besides, the proposal to let the tax cuts expire would only affect those small business owners who have a personal annual income of $250,000 or more - which I would guess eliminates many of the small store owners (unless they are venture capitalists during their "off" hours?). @Zegota - you're missing the point. The idea is to stay open a few more hours during the holiday season as part of a customer service strategy to remain competitive and profitable. The fact that this doesn't seem to be a priority to some of these shops speaks volumes.


Since you are apparently privy to the incomes of the small business owners downtown, and that they ignore the most important factor in their success (customer service to remain competitive and profitable) as a small business owner yourself, what then is the strategy that speaks volumes to you?


Don't twist my comment! I'll try another approach. If I was the owner of a specialty retail shop in downtown GH in the month of December, I would develop a "holiday strategy" that would include longer hours - maybe open one night a week and Sunday afternoons. After assessing the competition (both brick and mortar and e-retailers), I would play up the unique advantages of a hometown shop and provide more convenient shopping hours for a month or so. To not address the advantages the competition provides seems to me to be a little nonchalant about competition and profitability. As for taxes....57% of small business owners say tax increases on the wealthy would do less harm to the economy than spending cuts to job training, infrastructure, and education. Small businesses grew twice as fast under Clinton tax rates than Bush tax rates. And 3rd quarter corporate earnings were up 18.6% from a year ago, thus making more as a % of the economy than ever before. But wages as a % of the economy are at an all time low. Just sayin'...


I didn't "twist" your comment purposefully - I simply asked a question, to which you provided a thoughtful response until the democrat talking points raised their ugly heads.

As I have noted before, I do not object to returning to the Clinton tax rates as long as the agreement specifies a return to the Clinton outlays - a truly balanced approach!


I couldn't resist throwing in those democrat talking points, i.e., current factual statistics based on real numbers, not some Frank Luntz tutorial.


Think Progress stats now - why am I not surprised?


I know - Think. Progress. Stats. 3 offensive words to the GOP. My faux pas...


I will give my business to shops that are open on Sundays. I will shop when it's convenient for me....not when it's convenient for the business owners.


Without question, it is the decision of the small business owner as to their hours of operation. I too, wish the would stay open later in the evening and I personally think they're missing a huge opportunity for incremental sales. Fortino's is a great example of business after 6pm. Often I find this place very busy at 7pm or 8pm. and I think based on their long storied history, it has paid off. If other shops can close at 5pm and still survive then, more power to them. If they don't then, they'll reap what they sow. Lanivan, your hours of operation plan and holiday stategy does make sense, but I guess it boils down to the initiative of the owner as to how hungry they are to drive sales. However, taxes on the wealthy WOULD hurt small business because it would effect the middle class customers and their disposable income that small business' rely on. President Obama and you are fond of saying his tax increase wouldn’t impact 97% of small businesses. But those 97% of small businesses are NOT job creators! They range from people in their basements selling items on e-Bay to lawyers who practice out of their homes. The concern over higher individual tax rates has also been a focus because of the prominent role played by flow-through businesses—S corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies, and sole proprietorships—in the US economy and that a large fraction of flow-through income is subject to the top two individual income tax rates. These businesses employ 54% of the private sector work force and pay 44% of federal business income taxes.(Ernst & Young 7/18/12) The number of workers employed by large flow-through businesses is also significant: more than 20 million workers are employed by flow-through businesses. The businesses that would pay this tax increase are the businesses that hire millions of workers, not hundreds like small business. Higher taxes on these vital job creators will force them to cut back on their existing workforce & capital expenditures and it would certainly cause them to slow hiring of new workers. Eventually, the economy slows, national debt continues to soar, entitlements grow, our ability to defend our great country weakens leading to an inevitable recession and eventually a depression if the course is not reversed soon.


D - As to the tax portion of your comment: Much of what you say seems correct and logical, but facts do not support it. The expiration of the Bush tax cuts on the top 2% would not wreak havoc on the middle class in the way you describe, and most small businesses would not be affected at all, tax-wise. As it is, even if top tax rates go back up 4% to 39% (Clinton years), which is historically quite low, when tax deductions, loopholes, subsidies, tax havens, tax-free Swiss bank accounts, and creative accounting practices are factored in, I doubt you could find a corporation who is paying more than 18% or less - that's why GE and many, many others don't pay any taxes at all. If corporations need lower taxes in order to create jobs, why wasn't there a surge in employment after the Bush tax cuts? Employment was stagnant throughout those 8 years. Record profits were being made, and that money was invested (often overseas), not job creation. For example, in 2009, 93% of all new income created went to the top 1%, while the bottom 99% of the US population got the remaining 7% ( In 2012, 3rd quarter earnings were up 18.6% from a year ago, making corporate earnings as a % of the economy the greatest ever. But wages as a % of the economy are at an all-time low. The independent Congressional Budget Commission just came out with reports that showed that there is no statistical link between low tax rates and greater economic growth. (Mitch McConnell forced the commission to withhold the report as it came out right before the election). If you are truly concerned about the deficit, as the Tea Party has been harping on for the last 4 years (forget Dick Cheney's remark, "deficits don't matter" in the run-up to the Iraq war), you might be interested to know that the Bush tax cuts added $2.6 Trillion to the public debt in 2001-2010. But the wealth of the top 1% rose 400%. Wealth inequality is by far the more urgent concern...and raising the tax rates a measly 4% to raise some revenue during the greatest recession in 80 years is hardly the dire concern the wealthy would have you believe. Most small businesses hire based on demand, not on how much taxes they pay. Small business growth was double under Clinton tax rates than under Bush tax cuts.


You can't sell through a closed door and you can't complain that the malls are getting all the business if you don't have the same hours during the busiest shopping season of the year. Period.


I don't see anything in the above article that would suggest that businesses be required to extend their hours during the holidays. So "imp" better re-read the article. This paper, no matter one's personal opinion of it's quality, has every right to express its ideas and opinions just like all of us here. As far as I can tell, it remains up to the business to decide the hours. The Tribune is simply making a suggestion (and NCarmolli makes an excellent point). The whole tax argument is irrelevant.


Biped - The tax debate was an ongoing topic that was introduced by Vlad on this comment thread on 11-30. The link between this article and taxes is somewhat nebulous, but does have relevance when discussing small business and their success.


Lanivan - Correct, and thank you. My only point was if some small business owners were reaching a point that their taxable income was pushing $250,000, it would be perfectly rational for them to do what was necessary to keep their income below that "tax the rich" threshold, including possibly limiting their operating hours.


Better go south a few miles to downtown Holland. The stores stay open into the evening.


I'd like to shop downtown, but they close too early and aren't open on Sundays. I wonder how many other people feel the same way. People that have 8-5 jobs know not to even think about shopping in GH unless they have a day off.


Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Off-topic comments.


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