‘Who is Gaines?’ Message mystery solved

Kent County

GAINES TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Several signs that popped up in Gaines Township have led to numerous calls and text messages to the local chamber of commerce. Now the mystery surrounding the message is solved.

The signs started showing up outside Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, Chik-fil-A and Railtown Brewing Company in early May. They all ask the same question: “Who is Gaines?”

A photo taken May 24, 2021 shows a sign outside Pine Rest stating, “Who is Gaines?”

Barb Nauta, executive director for the local chamber of commerce, says her organization fielded more than 100 inquiries before a new set of signs showed up Tuesday, stating “We are Gaines.”

It turns out the local chamber of commerce is behind both messages.

“We want to create some fun and intrigue in our community,” Nauta stated.

She says the signs have fueled new interest in the history of Gaines Township. She’s hopeful it will also bring awareness to area businesses.

“It’s so incredibly fun. It’s such a fun campaign,” Nauta said.

Nauta says the goal is to support local retailers hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We saw restaurants close, a lot of schools impacted,” she said. “Really the community just completely shut down.”

Most of the local businesses were able to weather the worst of it. Nauta knows of only one area business that closed – Mathnasium. She says three others even opened during the pandemic: Panda Express, Popeye’s Chicken and Fricke Asphalt.

While working remotely, the chamber tried to help its members by encouraging customers to shop local and buy gift cards from their hometown retailers. Now with work-from-home restrictions lifted, the chamber is getting back to supporting its business members in more tangible ways.

“Our members are considered our family. We need to take care of our family members,” Nauta stated.

The new sign campaign also meant more work for a couple local businesses. Matrix Printing created the second set of signs, and Postema Sign & Graphics took the message on the road Tuesday using its truck equipped with a billboard.

(A billboard truck owned by Postema Sign & Graphics displays the new message for Gaines Chamber of Commerce’s campaign.)

“Working together, we can and we will create economic success and positively impact our Gaines Township community and all their families. It takes many to make a difference,” Nauta stated.

The new campaign is also meant to draw awareness to the Gaines Chamber of Commerce‘s revised name. Nauta says while the chamber dropped “Cutlerville” from its name, it still serves businesses in unincorporated communities located within Gaines Township, including Cutlerville and Dutton.

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