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Cruise brings goodwill, money to city

Published June 4, 2014

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A souped-up motorcycle and hippie bus make their way along Gratiot during the 2013 cruise in front of the Plum Pit. Local businesses might get a boost in foot traffic during the cruise.
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EASTPOINTE — As Cruisin’ Gratiot enters its 16th year, local officials are looking forward to the boost it brings to the city, both to its finances and to its reputation.

While no one had an estimate of the precise amount of money the event typically brings to Eastpointe, cruise organizer Harvey Curley said that approximately 150,000 people from all across the state usually show up for it. When you have that many people, he said, they have to stop off somewhere to eat.

“Obviously, the impact is with the restaurants that open up and are busy from opening to close,” Curley said. “So whether it’s the Villa or Cloverleaf or Salvatore Scaloppini, they are delighted we have that, since they get that kind of crowd.”

Other storefronts, such as auto shops and record stores, do strong business over that weekend, too, he added, as people stop in to pick up car parts they need or just to see what the store has in stock.

Eastpointe-Roseville Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Danielle Bare said that Eastpointe’s cruise is one of the longer-running ones in the area, and it gets a strong amount of participation among chamber members, who hold little events or sponsor it.

“It brings a lot of residents to the businesses that maybe they haven’t been to just yet, and it also brings a lot of people to the area from other cities, as well,” Bare said. “I’m not sure what numbers look like, but it drives a lot of business to our area.”

She said that the cruise drives a lot of foot traffic down Gratiot in particular, something the chamber appreciates, as it means more people will walk into these shops and see what they have for sale.

City Manager Steve Duchane sees the cruise as a great way to advertise Eastpointe and make it a “placemaking point.”

“There’s only so many places that have cruises, and it is a definition of Eastpointe that it has a very active Gratiot cruise, and it brings attention to storefronts, it brings attention to properties, it brings attention to economic activity and the interests in the area,” Duchane said. “So it’s very positive, and I think it’ll be good by all accounts to be defined as a good place for activities to happen.”

Furthermore, Duchane said as the cruise committee and the sponsors cover the costs of the cruise itself, it does not detract from the city’s finances. Instead, it effectively serves as a source of advertising.

And for people who remember cruising in their cars down Gratiot in their younger days, Duchane said that Cruisin’ Gratiot has become a point of pride for current and former residents who always enjoy coming back and reliving those days.

“It’s something that ties to the past, and I think, in that sense, it creates that sense of belonging and connection to the people who live here or come back for the cruise,” he said.

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