Food Service & Agriculture, Real Estate, and Retail

Downtown doughnut shop says closure due to homeless 'problem'

July 7, 2016
| By Pat Evans |
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glazed donuts doughnuts
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A downtown doughnut shop has closed after more than two years in business — a move it says is due to the local homeless population that impacted its operation.

Propaganda Doughnuts in Grand Rapids, at 117 Division Ave. S, says in a Facebook this morning that it closed its doors last Sunday.

“Unfortunately, we were unable to find answers and overcome the problem of the increasing amount of homeless and disadvantaged people who now frequent the street in front of our location,” the post says.

“It was too much to ask our customers to accept being harassed and approached by panhandlers. Customers were also having to walk past intoxicated and passed-out people on the sidewalks and in the doorways. Some customers were approached and panhandled even before getting out of their vehicles. The street is also having an increasing problem of the doorways and other areas being used as sleeping areas and bathrooms. This area is no longer acceptable for customers who just want to stop in and get some great doughnuts and coffee.

"We tried various solutions, including closing in the afternoons and evenings when the homeless and transient population move from the east side of Division to the west side in order to stay out of the sun. Each morning, when we came to open up the donut shop, we would never know what problems we would face at our entrance.

"It became apparent that at this time and until solutions are found to manage the recent influx of homeless to Grand Rapids from other cities in Michigan and even other areas of the country, that we would be unable to maintain a successful food establishment on the 100 block of South Division."

After thanking its customers, Propaganda Doughnuts concludes the post by saying, "Hopefully, we will find some solutions that will allow us to soon re-open our business.”

A number of customers replied to the post, with many commenters disappointed the business is attributing its closing to the homeless population.

Other commenters sympathized with the location’s current status.


Propaganda Doughnuts has since removed the post from its Facebook page. A commenter then posted a screenshot of the post in a comment on a previous Facebook post by the business.

Landlord Bob Dykstra said he's seeking another tenant, but the neighborhood issues continue to grow.

"Tenants aren't the problem," he said.

Companies have moved out of the neighborhood and succeed in other areas, he said.

Dykstra said he wants to stay positive about the neighborhood, but it's hard with the issues growing in the neighborhood that extend beyond homelessness into gangs, drug dealers and prostitution.

"I probably sound like the worst person in the world, but at a point when you're making investments in the neighborhood, it's getting harder," he said. "The truth is the truth." 

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