Stuff I heard

Tonight, as with many nights recently, I’ve been watching young people from Florida like Sam Zeif:

And I joke about how insipid this is, but lately it feels even more insipid. So that, plus the twelve inches of snow, then the subsequent twelve inches of water on the ground when it got warmer and rained, have kept me from my usual rounds. Sorry these updates are not illustrated, but I’ll at least try to make them read good.

The Carpenter/Ellsworth section is starting to see changes. The Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores are beginning their closing sales, but I’ve only really noticed the typical going-out-of-business trappings at Babies R Us, where there is a huge banner next to the building sign and those guys who stand at the nearest intersection holding and subtly waving “30% OFF” signs. Remember that these 30% OFF prices are not necessarily based on the store’s original prices, but on prices set by the firm that’s running the sale.

A friend who knows management at an area R-Us store tells me that business actually isn’t that bad at Arborland, but that the rent was too high. (The initial list of R-Us store closures hinted that some locations might not close if lower rents could be negotiated with landlords. Reality-TV entrepreneur Marcus Lemonis made lease re-negotiations like this a daily drama when his firm acquired Gander Mountain; he updated various locations’ status every day on his Twitter account.)

Anyway, my friend-of-a-friend says TRU hopes to return to Ann Arbor in a co-branded TRU/BRU store with a more favorable lease.

In the outlot of Babies R Us, there’s an AT&T sign on the outlot building where Pier 1 was and Aspen Dental now is; but the inside still has a long way to go. Not sure if this is a move or new competition for the existing AT&T reseller store on the end of the strip next to Target, Lane Bryant, and Fun 4 All.

Across town, a friend on the west side says Sun & Snow Sports seems to have closed on Wagner Road. As part of AADL’s dramatic Westgate Branch + Sweetwaters expansion, Sun & Snow exited Westgate and split into two nearby locations; the Wagner Road store would concentrate on swimming and water recreation, while the Jackson Road location near the Quality 16 theater would serve the skiing and snowsports community. A bicycle shop would eventually join S&S on Jackson Road, rounding out its offerings and serving customers left without a nearby option since the sudden closure of Two Wheel Tango.

In about the past year, a national sporting-goods chain (Sports Authority), a regional chain (MC Sports), and a specialty chain (Total Hockey) have all imploded, so without the volume these chains could take advantage of, you’d better be creative to survive. You also have to keep overhead low, and differentiate yourself with service and attention to the customer.

Or you could just can your lifers, like Barnes & Noble did this week.

Something something “interesting times.”

 

Here’s a shot of Old Carolina, one of my very first posts, as seen this past weekend:

Former Old Carolina BBQ being gutted, Feb 2018. (C)A2RS

I’m tired, but feel free to tell me what you think below, or Facebook or tweet me. I’ll read it in the morning.

The Little Kroger That Got Lucky

I haven’t noticed a lot new in the past few days, sorry for the lack of updates. But I really wanted to write and post something, so here are some photos I recently resurfaced of the closing of the Kroger store at Stadium and South Industrial, circa 2014.

Interior, Stadium/South Industrial Kroger, looking east from checkouts toward the deli and bakery.. (C)A2RS

At the time of its closing, South Industrial was the smallest Kroger store in town and probably one of the very smallest in the Detroit metro area. Small enough that it only had a single entrance/exit. Small enough that you could get from one end to the other in a minute or less without rushing. Too small to survive in the era of ever-larger-footprint Kroger stores. The Traver Village store, on Plymouth Road, was the largest store in the Kroger chain at its 1992 opening; though it has only grown larger from there, other territories have Kroger stores that dwarf it. Some take a run at Meijer or Walmart and stock general merchandise.

Closing announcement floor sign at South Industrial Kroger store. (C)A2RS

The South Industrial Kroger was the closest supermarket, and nearly the closest business, to nearly all of the U-M athletic campus, including all the stadia and arenas, a truth reflected in its decor. Each corner of the store had a mural depicting Wolverines excelling in a particular sport.

The Wolverines pull ahead (of lettuce) of Ohio State. This was back pre-renovation, when you could only fit maybe 105,000 people in the Big House. (C)A2RS
You know what’s always a slam-dunk? Donuts (just out of frame). (C)A2RS
It’s natatorium, it’s the cold cuts section. (C)A2RS
From Jesse Owens’ long run, to my beer run. (C)A2RS
Yost for the taste of it. (C)A2RS
There’s a runner on third. Dairy try to steal home? If he can touch the bag-uette might mean the winning run. (C)A2RS

I personally liked this Kroger because it was very conveniently located between my work and my house, it was open until at least 11 most nights, and it was priced competitively with other grocery stores in the area despite being conveniently located and small enough to quickly navigate. Did I occasionally accidentally buy something that was past its freshness date? Sure, but they always cheerfully exchanged it.

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You get the idea. This was a small Kroger.

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I was still sorry to see it go. So were many other people who sent farewell cards, and signed a giant banner on the front of the store.

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In the ensuing weeks and months, the building would be debranded. Here it was soon after it closed, but before the announcement of its future tenant, Lucky’s Market.

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And here we are today. Lucky’s has been a reasonably good neighbor. Their prices, especially their sale prices and private-label items, are often competitive with larger supermarkets, and they have a pretty good beer and wine selection. Not to mention, you can walk around with a dang glass of beer, if you feel like that helps you shop (it does).

Interior, Lucky’s Market, looking east from the produce section toward the checkouts and the bakery. (C)A2RS

I’m sure it is not a coincidence that Kroger owns a share of Lucky’s Market. Thanks for reading!