There's nothing like a long weekend with family & friends catching up on everything happening around Genesee County & Mid-Michigan. For the first time ever, I hosted Thanksgiving. It was fantastic -- and shout out to my sister, the real MVP. She helped save my first attempt at mac 'n cheese from being a total failure.

When the subject turned to getting holiday shopping done, I asked if they planned to go to Genesee Valley Mall or Courtland Center: "no." (Not surprising -- there isn't too much left--especially at Courtland Center.) I asked if they were planning to check out the Flint Farmer's Market: "no." Where will you shop? Some said Amazon. Some said Target or Wal-Mart. A handful said, "gift cards." Nobody said anything about local shops they like or even being curious if anything was around, they should check out. This led me to a couple of important thoughts:

What will become of the malls in Flint and Burton, Michigan?

Please know, I'm not signing a death certificate for either place. I have great memories of shopping there when I was a kid and want them to thrive. That said, malls around America are on their death bed or already closed. We, as a community, need to partner with mall ownership to get these places re-established. Crazy rent prices aren't do-able anymore -- despite a mortgage. Re-thinking what goes in a mall needs to be front & center, now. There's no reason a Flint Farmer's Market-style approach could work for in either mall -- if you don't know what I mean, think food hall & local vendors and LOTS of customers.

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Credit Nathan Reed
Credit Nathan Reed

No matter, each city government should be working with ownership for back-up plans that involve the community. Those places closing down isn't good for any of us.

How can elected officials & fans of local business in Genesee County help spread the word for new businesses?

Let's be mindful to share the love for local start-ups and local businesses on our social media. Let's buy gift cards to places we want our friends & family to try -- to get them out of their usual shopping habits. Let's ask our elected officials for seed money to partner with the owners of the two major malls to develop a fail-safe / evolved plan for success.  Our malls don't have to be another "closed" statistic, but we have to make it so.

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