Downtown Association of Ypsilanti seeks to broaden representation of Ypsi businesses

The Downtown Association of Ypsilanti (DAY) is mulling big changes to create a more united and inclusive business community in Ypsilanti.

DAY held an "Ypsi Love Mixer" July 20 to discuss ways to bring the local business community together and to brainstorm a new name for DAY that represents all of the city's business districts. About 20 business owners from around the Ypsilanti community attended the session.

Angel Vanas, DAY president and owner of downtown hair salon Star Studio, says the "weird competition" that has sometimes divided business owners in the downtown district from Ypsi's Depot Town and West Cross Street business districts needs to stop.

"It's outdated, and we're not doing that anymore," Vanas says. "Not only do the business owners of Ypsilanti need to communicate and create community, but we also need to reestablish communication with the civic leadership and the community, or we won't survive."

Vanas notes that Depot Town had its own business association at one time, separate from DAY.

"But as far as I know, West Cross never had its own association, and never was invited to anyone else's, which is ridiculous," she says.

Despite those divisions, Vanas says that business owners across Ypsilanti used to communicate more among themselves. But the COVID-19 pandemic damaged those connections. 

"We used to talk and know what everybody was doing. That's not true right now," she says. She notes that representatives from at least three local businesses she wasn't familiar with showed up to the mixer on the 20th, for instance.

"I was one of those people who thought I knew everybody, but there were three businesses I'd never heard of before," she says. 

Along with the mission of uniting the three business districts, Vanas thinks DAY's name needs to change to reflect the broader coalition of business owners she hopes to build. DAY officials solicited suggestions at the July 20 meeting and additional suggestions are still welcome.

DAY plans to host mixers at 5 p.m. and meetings at 7 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month, with the future location to be determined. Those interested in future mixers and meetings can follow the DAY Facebook page for updates and new event announcements.

Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She joined Concentrate as a news writer in early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to other Issue Media Group publications. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.
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