|© Bill Shurtliff|
by Sally Mitani
“It’s amazing exposure. It’s a stand-alone. It has a cute, unique, homey feel—a beautiful courtyard,” says Rhonda Gilpin. And the parking. Don’t even get her started on the parking: “There are six parking places on site and [free] two-hour parking around the corner on Davis.” To hear Gilpin tell it, this is where good retailers go when they die.
Nobody died, exactly, but Gilpin’s downtown Arcadian Too is moving from the Goodyear Building to the former Ann Arbor Framing at Main and Davis, where it will become Arcadian Antiques Boutique—because, she explains, “it will be smaller and have a more boutiquey feel.” Her target opening date is September 27.
The new place is just a few blocks from the stadium. “It’s unbelievable how much traffic goes by there,” Gilpin says. “If I make the twenty-seventh, I can catch three home games in a row. I’m already parking twenty cars there on football Saturdays.” Of course, she’s hoping to reap the real retail bonanza of football Saturdays: the bored-spouse traffic.
Gilpin is one of those people who seem to speak retail as if it were a language, and given her roots it’s not surprising. She literally grew up in Nickels Arcade, where her father, Tom Liechty, managed the Caravan Shop for family friend Jim Edwards (founding owner of Maison Edwards gift shop and of Maison Edwards Tobacconist, also in the arcade). Her mother, Linda, owned nearby Van Buren’s lingerie shop, which she had bought from Edwards. (Edwards, who died recently, sold Maison Edwards Tobacconist in the early 1990s to Chuck Ghawi; he closed the gift shop in 1998.) Gilpin says that while her family wasn’t in the business of selling antiques, her parents “had a lot of them. By the time I grew up, I was very astute about going to Detroit auction houses.” She opened the Arcadian antique shop in 1983, followed by Arcadian Too in 1992. In 1994 she bought the Caravan from Jim Edwards.
The new boutique will
Our October Marketplace Changes story on the Arcadian Boutique slighted its predecessor at the corner of Main and Davis, Ann Arbor Framing Co. In a meeting, Ann Arbor Framing owner Lori Wintermeyer corrected our spring date for her closing—“I didn’t close until July first”—and told the story behind her decision to shut the business she’d owned for eighteen years.
“It wasn’t really because of the divorce; it was because of the health insurance,” Wintermeyer explained. “I have MS—I need meds.” When she could no longer buy extended coverage on her ex-husband’s policy, she had to take another job to get insurance. Her employees kept the business running for a while, but eventually “it was either keep the store open or keep a roof over my head.”
Wintermeyer’s big regret is that she didn’t get to say good-bye. “I’d like to say thank you to all my customers over the last eighteen years,” she says, “and before that at the Needlepointe Tree for five years.” For those who are wondering, she’s still in Ann Arbor, and she’s still in sales: “I can always be found in the window treatment department at Lowe’s on Jackson Road.”
I also spent a lot of time in the Nickels Arcade, specifically in the Van Buren shop when visiting my Great Grandma, Mae Van Buren, who opened the shop in 1928 until she retired and sold it after 40plus years.
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