Holly Car Show Continues on Saginaw Street in Spite of Concerns
(Crystal A. Proxmire, Feb. 14, 2019)
Holly, MI – Each Wednesday in warm weather, classic cars line up along Saginaw Street in Downtown Holly where the historic buildings provide ambiance for the regular group of friends and car enthusiasts to gather.
While the Holly Car Show is cherished by those who bring their cars to town, some business owners have mixed feelings, particularly about having up to 22 Wednesdays without customers having easy access to the shops.
The event permit for 2019’s car shows was approved by Village Council Tuesday night after discussion about potential ways for the car show and the merchants to co-exist.
Business owners have been talking to officials and discussing on social media about how to make the event beneficial to everyone, including the possibility of moving it to Broad Street or Crapo Park.
The event permit was originally placed on the consent agenda, but Councilperson Chris Rankin asked for it to be moved to the regular agenda so that a public discussion could take place. “I think the car show is too important to be placed on the consent agenda and we need to recognize the work he [Allsop] does.” He asked about the possibility of moving the event to Broad Street as a way to keep the businesses on the main street accessible.
Allsop dismissed complaints and said that it was “only three people” who were against the show. His response to many of the concerns and potential alternatives was that if any changes were made he would quit and let someone else run it.
The event has sparked concerns in previous years, including 2014 when merchants packed council chambers to request a change.
Jeremy Domanik of Vintage Industrial Uniques has volunteered with the car show and brought his own vehicle down. He said he loves the car show, but would like to see some improvements. “It isn’t just three people,” he said. “Your view of how it impacts us is incorrect. Our customers avoid Holly when the car show is in town… There’s not a lot of downtowns that shut down one day a week.”
Cindy Hering of Raggs Boutique shared similar concerns. “I can honestly say every Wednesday I could close my doors and go home… I have inventory in my business that I need to sell. Every day makes a difference.”
While several retail stores have called for changes, the restaurants downtown seem to benefit from the traffic. Toni Barnett of Cupcakes and Kisses said that her bakery does well, and that Wednesday evening sales over the 22 weeks account for $20,000 in revenue for her business. She said that moving the car show would “impact my business, my employees, and their families.”
Barnett’s daughter Kendra also spoke in favor of the car show. “It’s been in Holly as long as I can remember, I can’t imagine Holly without it,” she said. “It’s been around at least 20 years. Why quit now?”
Lisa Clark of Battle Alley Antiques said that while her store may not do well on Wednesdays, the event does foster customer loyalty. “People do come back to shop. I’m in the shop two days a week and I know they come.”
Clark, who volunteers with the show, also spoke at the Feb. 11 Downtown Development Authority meeting about the Car Show, stating that the event raised $800 last year for the Clarkston Lions Club. When asked why the money went to a Clarkston charity instead of a Holly one, she said it’s because Holly no longer has a Lion’s Club and because the show’s organizers use the Clarkston Lion’s Club insurance for the event. The money is raised through a 50/50 raffle.
Holly Youth Assistance also sells popcorn at the event to raise money for their program which helps with youth intervention.
“We fight every year. And here we are again. Just let us do it,” Clark said at Council.
The Holly DDA, the organization tasked with representing downtown businesses, discussed the car show, but made no decisions or recommendations. “We aren’t going to get into taking any sides,” said DDA Chairperson Dick Rossell at the Feb. 11 meeting. “I don’t want to make that call.”
In addition to moving the event off the main strip, two other ideas were discussed at the DDA and Council meetings.
One proposed idea is to charge car show participants a dollar or two to showcase their cars. The money could be used for a local charity, or could be used by the DDA to pay for a new speaker system that could be used at all events. This idea was discussed, but not voted on.
Another idea that did make it into the event planning was that hours of the event be reduced. Previously Saginaw Street was closed at 4pm so cars could park. Many drivers come sooner to claim their spots.
This year’s event permit was approved with the stipulation that vehicles not be staged prior to 5pm, and those arriving early will not be allowed to back into spaces or claim their spots.
“I’m happy to see Bob is making some adjustments,” said Councilperson Richard Kinnamon, “I hope we can embrace the signs of compromise here.”
The Holly Car Show begins on May 22 and takes place every Wednesday through October from 5:30pm to 8:30pm on Saginaw Street in Downtown Holly. For a previous article on the Car Show click here. Also find them on Facebook.