Street Talk: Keeping pace on Michigan


The new Farah’s certainly would look nothing like the old one. Courtesy city of Grand Rapids

At the Dec. 8 Grand Rapids Planning Commission meeting, Brian Farah is requesting approval to expand alcohol service with a one-story addition and outdoor seating at his bar, Farah’s Bar, 710 Michigan St. NE.

In his application to the city, he said the expansion is to help service incoming residents from the multitude of developments coming online near the Michigan Street corridor from 616 Development, Third Coast Development and RISE Real Estate.

The plan also includes a new façade on the building, which might indicate Farah feels a need to update his bar, as many of the new developments include a retail component.

Next door to the bar, on the ground floor of 616 Development’s Lofts on Michigan, Traverse City-based 7 Monks Taproom is opening a location and Third Coast’s Diamond Place will have a restaurant on the ground floor, as well as a grocery store.

“The proposed use is intended to improve the current atmosphere of the local bars within the area and provide a friendly space for its current and future residents,” Farah wrote in his application.

12 days

Looking to get some Christmas shopping done early? Well, if you want to proclaim your devotion to your true love, it’ll cost you $34,363.49, according to the 33rd PNC Christmas Price Index, which was released last Thursday.

The economic analysis provided by PNC Bank tallies the total cost of purchasing all the gifts listed in the Christmas carol “The 12 Days of Christmas.” The price increased by $232.50 from 2015, a 0.7 percent increase. However, if you were looking to catch a Cyber Monday deal on buying your 10 lords-a-leaping in bulk, no dice — purchasing all 12 gifts online would cost $10,239 more than in-store purchases.

However, there were some breaks — the price of a partridge in a pear tree dropped 2.7 percent from last year to $209.99, thanks to an oversupply of game birds that saw the partridge slip in price from $25 to $20. A pair of turtledoves, on the other hand, would run you $375, with that 29.3 percent spike representing the biggest among all the gifts.

Salary increases for some entertainment workers saw a spike in costs, as well. Securing 11 pipers piping to play a pleasant tune would cost you $2,708.40, but they’ll be playing happily — 2016 was the first year their wages had increased since 2013.

Now, if you were to count each repetition of the gifts in song, the total cost of Christmas would be $156,507.88 — so maybe just stick with jewelry.

The full breakdown can be found at

Art fest cleans up

The Lakeshore Art Festival is leaving a big economic and environmental mark on the Muskegon area. According to recent numbers from the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce and the Muskegon County Convention & Visitors Bureau, the festival has had a $1.5 million economic impact on the region.

“The show has grown in so many ways,” said Carla Flanders, event director. “We’re thrilled with the response from the exhibitors and guests who have recognized the positive changes, enhanced product quality and (the) overall festive atmosphere. Our show is being recognized on a national scale, and exhibitors are coming from across the country to be in the Lakeshore Art Festival.”

One of the “positive changes” Flanders referred to is the “Keepin’ It Green” recycling program launched in partnership with the DTE Energy Foundation. The program’s goal is to make the festival a zero-waste event, from the typical paper and plastic recycling to food vendors using all biodegradable serving dishes and composting all organic waste.

In the past three years of the program, the festival has recycled 1,783 pounds of cardboard, 535 pounds of plastic and aluminum, 935 pounds of organic waste and 206 pounds of paper and diverted 13,980 pounds of waste from landfills.

Craft vendors have noticed the changes and say they look forward to participating in future years.

“The event far exceeded my expectations,” said vendor Dan Lary, of Candle Creations. “Not only has the event turned around, but the downtown area (has), as well. I've been doing craft events for 19 years and usually as many as 40 a year (20 states so far). I say that to make this point: Never have I seen an event make such a dramatic turn for the positive.”

Holiday giving

The majority of donations to nonprofits occur between October and December each year. Keith Hopkins, president and owner of Hopkins Fundraising Consulting, shared a number of tips for those looking to donate this holiday season.

“One, make sure you're giving to a registered 501(c)3, or you won't get a tax deduction for the gift; two, go to the charity's website and look at the leadership, financials and the mission. Make sure the programming matches your interests; three, visit the nonprofit in person. Get to know the staff and/or the client base. Volunteer and give the charity the ‘eye-ball test’ to make sure your gift will be put to good use.”

Hopkins also shared three tips for getting the whole family involved in holiday giving and the best ways to instill the idea of giving back in young children.

“Volunteer regularly with them, so they can see others in need,” he said

He suggests finding a simple volunteer opportunity and trying to do it several times a year.

“Encourage them to set aside some of their own money for giving to their church or a charity,” Hopkins said. “This will be much more effective if they see mom and dad doing the same thing. In our family, we always had a ‘giving bank,’ so our kids could put a little money aside every time they got paid for a job.”

Hopkins said it’s also important to talk regularly with your kids about how people give to others.

“When our kids were younger, I always made a point to look for stories in the news about someone helping another person in need, and then we'd talk about it over dinner.”

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