2/3/2023: Why was a Kzoo bookstore condemned?

News for those who live, work, and play in Kalamazoo County.

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Friday, February 3, 2023

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Several issues led Kalamazoo inspectors to order a local bookstore to be condemned. Also: Three months after hazardous waste spilled into the Kalamazoo River, a no-contact order has been lifted. And tourism spending was better than ever during the year after COVID began.

News You Need To Know

Why a Kzoo bookstore was condemned

Several issues led Kalamazoo city officials to condemn a local used bookstore last month. An investigation of the Bicentennial Bookshop on Westnedge Avenue on Jan. 18 turned up problems such as uncovered electrical junction boxes, missing smoke alarms, and an “excessive use of extension cords.” The report obtained by MLive also said the store needed unobstructed paths out of the building and noted that it didn’t have a working bathroom.

The bookstore, founded in 1976 by Vaughn Baber and local historian Larry Massie, does most of its business online these days. There’s no indication of what the store’s current owner, Michael Baber, intends to do. But city staff has scheduled a follow-up inspection for March 3. In the meantime, no one is allowed to be inside the store unless it is for the purpose of cleaning it up and fixing the cited issues. [MLive]

No-contact order for Kzoo River lifted

More than three months after hazardous waste spilled into the Kalamazoo River, a no-contact order from the City of Kalamazoo has been lifted. The advisory was issued on Oct. 20 after a sump at a Northside factory overflowed, sending between 1,500 and 2,000 gallons of waste leaking into the Kalamazoo River. The factory belongs to Graphic Packaging International, which has had numerous environmental issues in recent years. The no-contact advisory was limited to the area of the Kalamazoo River between the Paterson Street Bridge to the D Avenue Bridge. [WWMT]

Kzoo visitor spending hit all-time high

Waning concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic and a pent up desire to leave the house led to Kalamazoo County having its best year ever in terms of visitor spending in 2021. Figures published by Travel Michigan showed that visitors to the area shelled out $585 million dollars at hotels, restaurants, and shops that year. Discover Kalamazoo said that was a 50.9% increase over 2020 and the second highest growth rate out of Michigan’s 83 counties.

It’s no surprise that tourism increased in 2021 – much of the state was closed down in 2020 due to the pandemic. But the amount of spending in 2021 also eclipsed pre-pandemic spending to make it the best year for Kalamazoo County tourism. Tourism is an important part of Kalamazoo’s economy, according to Brad Hershbein, Senior Economist at W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. “This relatively strong demand in Kalamazoo County implies more job creation, not just in tourism jobs, but in downstream industries, as well,” Hershbein told MLive. More than 6,000 jobs in Kalamazoo County rely directly on visitors to the area, while another 9,663 jobs are indirectly supported by tourism. [MLive]

NowKalamazoo Partner Event

This Saturday, young entrepreneurs will display their products. This event is free to the public. Middle and high school-aged youth who are interested in starting a business should also come for the mini-seminar on how to brand their business on a budget.

Junior CEO Pop-Up Shop for Youth Entrepreneurs
Parent/Kidpreneur workshop (15-20 minutes): How to brand your business on a budget
Free admission to the public
Feb. 4 11am to 1pm
The Space
320 E. Michigan Ave. Suite 101
Sponsored by NowKalamazoo

Things To Do In Kalamazoo

Coffee and Civics – Southwest Michigan First
8:30AM 2/3

59th Annual KAARC Winter Auto Swap Meet – Kalamazoo County Expo Center
2pm 2/3, 8am 2/4

Black History Month – Exhibit Opening Night – Black Arts & Cultural Center
5:00PM 2/3

Art Showing: Portage High School Art Inspired by 2023 CommuniTeen Read – Bookbug & this is a bookstore
5:00PM 2/3

Pitch Night – Startup Zoo
6:00PM 2/3

The Incantations – The Distant Whistle Brewhouse
6:00PM 2/3

Carry the Love: Western Michigan University – WMU, Kanley Chapel
7:00PM 2/3

Clybourne Park – Kalamazoo Civic Theatre
7:30pm 2/3-4, 2/10-11; 2pm 2/5, 2/12

Thunderstruck – Bell’s Eccentric Café
8:00PM 2/3

Out of Favor Boys – Final Gravity Brewing Co.
8:00PM 2/3

AJ LaPorte – Louie’s Trophy House
9:00PM 2/3

Baby Grands | Clayton Stephenson – The Gilmore
11:00AM 2/4

Bells Brewery Hike – Mayors Riverfront Park
11:00AM 2/4

Lantern Festival Gala – Chenery Auditorium
4:00PM 2/4

2nd Annual Kzoo Bourbon Fest – The Foundry
4:00PM 2/4

Vine Mid-Winter Festival – Vine Neighborhood Association
4:30PM 2/4

Black History Month Presentation: Lt. General Russel Honoré – Air Zoo
6:00PM 2/4

Kalamazoo Record Show – Kalamazoo county Expo Center
10:00AM 2/5

Lantern Festival Celebration – Kalamazoo Chinese Academy
2:00PM 2/5

Rising Star | Clayton Stephenson – The Gilmore
4:00PM 2/5

See more upcoming events here.

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