The U has disappeared from the Ulrich’s sign on their building facing west. Seems suspicious. As I understand it, the Ulrich family owns this side of the block and a new Ulrich’s store will anchor the new building – perhaps they are saving a piece of the old sign to display in the new building, which is always a fun piece of trivia to link the old and the new. When the 14-screen Showcase Cinemas opened at Carpenter and Ellsworth, their lobby proudly displayed the sign from the drive-in they replaced; similarly, the marquee from the old Campus Theatre on South U was mounted on the wall in the South University Galleria when first opened. And every time a Carl’s Junior goes fully-automated, they stuff and mount one of its former workers in the dining room.
Party City has moved within Oak Valley Center, alert reader/fellow local blogger Anna Mae reports. It’s moved from the south end to the north side, near Chuck E. Cheese. PC is one of Oak Valley’s original opening tenants, I’m pretty sure, originally known as “1/2 Off Card Shop.” If you’re somehow not from Michigan and reading this, it is what you would call a “party store,” a paper-products shop specializing in supplies for group celebrations. (For some reason, in Michigan and maybe nowhere else, a “party store” is a convenience store that sells booze.)
Famous Footwear was also in Oak Valley for a long time, but recently closed. Its sister location continues to operate in Arborland.
Oak Valley has been not-quite-full for a while. I feel like it started when the independently-owned Crossroads Christian bookstore closed, and accelerated when MC Sports moved from Oak Valley to Briarwood Mall. Chuck E. Cheese is a reliable traffic bringer for kids of a certain age, Target expanded its store with something sort of like a grocery, and there are a lot of new apartments and condos nearby, so I wouldn’t worry too hard.
MC Sports went out of business just before I spun this site up and I don’t have a lot to say, except that I have many fond memories of the movie theater that was there for forty years before MC Sports moved in. (It was a standard 70s mall movie theater — cinder block walls, nearly flat floors, movie theater popcorn – but I still miss it.) I bought a few things at MC Sports, they were fine for a sporting goods store, and I guess they sold guns, if you’re into that.
(click through to play with the Street View time machine and see the Alamo when it was a Rave Cinema)
I’ve heard Alamo Drafthouse nominated as a possible new tenant for the vacated MC Sports, which would bring movies back to Briarwood in a format mostly untested in this area. Alamo’s downtown Kalamazoo location, their first in Michigan, seemed to be thriving until they were booted last winter from Portage Street by their new landlord. (Commenters on Alamo’s now-shut-down Facebook page swore the space would reopen quickly with a different exhibitor, but it’s been a couple of months.) Alamo typically seeks locations further away from other theaters, and the Emagine Saline is only about ten minutes away and a step into their niche, with a full bar and food delivered to your seat — though without the tables, the eclectic programming, and the heavily enforced child and phone rules that make Alamo a favorite in their markets.