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!

Gathering Some Loose Threads at the end of January

Tonight seems like a good time to follow up on a few things I didn’t get to address in longer-form pieces, throughout the month.

The closed Meijer Optical store at the Ann Arbor-Saline Road location. (C)A2RS

Meijer Optical, an independent glasses retailer who licenses the Meijer name and operates within Meijer stores, recently closed their Ann Arbor-Saline Road location. Signage in front of the store advises customers to visit their Jackson store – it has been amended twice to specify Jackson, Michigan (about forty-five minutes west). This is because, to get to the next closest location, you would have to drive past their Scio Township location, located on Jackson Road — a modification clearly borne of customer error. Heck of it is, I go to the Scio store from time to time — it has a beer selection unlike any any other Meijer, or probably any chain supermarket — and I clearly remember an optical store in the front by the checkouts, just like Saline Road. So I guess the retailer is exiting the Ann Arbor market. There are a number of other glasses stores near the Saline Road store — one right in its own outlot, and several at the State Street exit a quick drive away — so I see why they might get out of Saline Road. But Zeeb and Jackson is still primarily niche retail, from Dancers Boutique to home-improvement stores, so I don’t know what compelled them to bail here, and I’m probably not going to find out tonight.

Coming Soon signs for SPENGA Gym at Colonnade. (C)A2RS

As reported by blogfriend Dave, the new tenant in the former Bagger Dave’s space in the Colonnade is SPENGA, a gym. The unique roll-up windows in its storefront are probably to allow the place some fresh air from time to time.

Here’s a cursed image from the ongoing redevelopment of Circle K:

It’s honestly better without context. (C)A2RS

My frequent co-conspirator Patti Smith noted that, like, right after I published the Washtenaw Commons piece, signage for BetterHealth Market appeared in the largest open space. Originally known as The Vitamin Outlet, BetterHealth’s outgrowth into produce and groceries will provide more grocery competition to Washtenaw Avenue and possibly siphon some frustrated parking-lot cruisers from the Whole Foods Market a block west. And the space it’s leaving behind at Lamp Post Plaza presents a prime expansion opportunity for its neighbor, WARHAMMER:

Better Health and WARHAMMER Stores at Lamp Post Plaza. (C)A2RS

Miniature Gaming combines the excitement of, uh, gaming with the accomplishment of, um, crafts. The tiny, detailed figurines used for play cry out for custom paint jobs. Games Workshop is the most popular manufacturer of these games and accessories, and a few years ago they centered their retail presence around WARHAMMER, their signature IP. This delighted, confused, angered, and bemused many of their fans with blogs. Their “real” logo looks like a delicious hot dog topping, so this makes sense to me. (I honestly don’t think they’re going to expand into the old BetterHealth space, but I’ve wanted to mention WARHAMMER for a while.)

And finally a(nother) photo that will make townies cry. Here’s a familiar stretch of South University this past August:

And here it is today:

The latest flat spot on South U. (C)A2RS

The buildings comprising Safer Sex Store and Middle Earth have been demolished. The walled-up tunnels on the side of Sweeting, formerly Middle Earth East, were formerly entrances between the east (dirty greeting cards and tacky gifts) and west (jewelry and home furnishings) sides of Middle Earth. I don’t know what this is, but I’m sure it’s part of that ambitious plan to remake South University to finally attract and maintain a successful Jamba Juice store. Laugh at me now, buy me my extra wheatgrass shot later.

TЯU AWOL И A2

After a holiday season in bankruptcy, Toys Я Us has announced they are closing nearly 200 stores nationwide, bankruptcy court permission pending — including both the Arborland TЯU store and the Babies Я Us on Carpenter Road. (Babies Я Us sells baby clothing, toys, accessories, and furniture, as well as consumables like formula, diapers, and baby food. Once in a while they carry a hot toy with crossover potential, like the Nintendo Wii.)

TЯU promised the footprint consolidation would lead to co-branded stores in some markets, but according to a PDF in the linked article, they are giving up on Ann Arbor entirely. Which is poignant, because TЯU C∃O David Brandon is a Michigan Man:

David Brandon as a Michigan Wolverine in 1973. (C) U-M Athletics
Your author, pictured here in the Brandon Center at U-M. (C)A2RS

Though every aisle of the store was a well-stocked treat — I even grudgingly respected its selection of toys for EEEEW, GIRRRRLS — my favorite memories of TЯU as a kid involved visiting the massive wall of video game box photos, flipping them up to see the photo of the back of the box, then grabbing a ticket to buy the game. Once in a very great while I would even take the ticket to the register and buy the game, though most of the time I would just take the ticket home and glance at it from time to time, because games cost $49.99 back then and while I could usually rely on one for a birthday or Christmas present, I rarely had that much lettuce gathered at once.

“Toys R Us, Marshalls, and Bed Bath & Beyond at Arborland,” October 1999. (C) The Ann Arbor News.

In the late 90s, Arborland was “de-malled.” After decades as an enclosed mall, nearly all the structures were demolished and paved for parking, and the remaining stores relocated to the big boxes you shop today. (The building that houses OfficeMax, Jos. A Bank, and Potbelly is the sole holdover from that era. Toys Я Us originally sat in the space currently unoccupied by a furniture store, directly north of OfficeMax.) Its current big-box location is so far back from Washtenaw Avenue, and obscured by the empty furniture store, that you might not even know it’s there. That can’t help things. In recent years I have occasionally visited to buy a toy or gift that was on special or clearance; they sometimes had good deals on iTunes cards. Last year I was looking for Dixit card expansion packs and TЯU had nothin’ for me. (I ended up buying local at Fun 4 All on Carpenter Road.)

Still from a TV ad for “Kids R Us.” (C) …somebody, probably.

Old people with long memories like me may remember when TЯU branched out into apparel with Kids Я Us stores. As a young person, I was kind of jazzed when they first opened, and then confused when the store had not even one aisle of toys. Who needs that? Ann Arbor’s KЯU store was on Eisenhower at the Cranbrook Shopping Center. After KЯU folded, the building began its second life as Office Depot; it has recently reopened as Airtime Trampoline Park.

Arborland’s original developer, John J. Sharemet, shared his vision with the Ann Arbor News upon its 1959 announcement: “a one-stop center where all consumer items may be purchased.” With that in mind, the exo-“Ɑ”-us of Toys Я Us is a major setback to the center’s assortment — but Sharemet could probably never have conceived of a store like Five Below.

Jordan Lovell is closing

A brief note on a change spotted yesterday: closing signage at Jordan Lovell Picture Framing, the last/only store at Hoover and Greene. Nestled among the many rental houses, the remaining businesses include U-M offices, a DTE Energy substation, the Kenville dance studio, and Hoover Street Auto Repair garage.

Jordan Lovell shared this building with Project Green, a division of J.S. Vig Construction of Taylor, and a couple of other businesses on the Greene Street side. The building is due to be cleared out of the way for a new mixed-use development at the corner that has been reported on in greater detail by a less-handsome blog.

That project is slated to include street-level retail, though no vendors or businesses have yet been announced. It is known that all of the most important of U-M’s 220,000 employees work in these two blocks, and they all tell me that they would really like a ready-to-eat food option, please and thank you.

Fan-tastic and Ink-credible

Ann Arbor has always had a generous selection of bookstores, but few of them specialized in comics. It’s cold and grey outside, so I’m going to spend some time remembering those today.

Dave’s Comics & Collectibles was situated a couple floors above what is currently a Jimmy John’s at the corner of State and William. It took a twisty flight of stairs to get up but the climb was worth it. Besides the big companies’ comics, they had a wide selection of independent comics and zines — they led me to Milk & Cheese AND X Magazine, which (eventually) led me to Burning Man.

Me and Heather MacDiva

[There I am at Burning Man. Seems like a lifetime ago. I still have the shirt. (C)A2RS]

Dave Hutzley, the proprietor of the Ann Arbor and Royal Oak Dave’s stores, now lives in Arizona. He says he sometimes starts “to lose my mind and think about opening a new shop,” but he seems pretty comfortable selling vintage memorabilia and fan merch on eBay.

On South University, the classic Dawn Treader store (I feel like Dawn Treader deserves a longer post of its own) was replaced in the late 90s/early oughts by The Underworld, which focused on comics, RPG, and tabletop games. Eventually Underworld moved to street level, in the Galleria shopping mall above Pinball Pete’s and below Tower Records. (Its space is now part of the Kaplan Test Prep space.)

Interior, The Underworld (Galleria). (C)Timothy Nanzer.

Of course, today’s modern comic fan most likely picks up her monthly subs from Vault of Midnight. Before its establishment on Main Street, it moved around a bit within a few blocks. Vault originally opened in a house on Ashley Street, of which no photographs are easily located, then moved to Fourth Street and Huron into that distinctive white building that was apparently a gas station long ago.

(One thing this store had that no Vault before or since did, was actual parking. I think I wrecked my car’s AC driving into the remnants of a fuel-pump island at this location. NO RAGRETS.)

They moved from this location to the underground shops on Liberty Street across from the Federal Building.

In 2010, my disappointment at the closure of After Words (a really good discount book outlet that specialized in remainders and overstocks of quality books) was tempered by the announcement that Vault of Midnight was moving into its space.

Liberty and Main

(ABOVE: Ext. Vault of Midnight by Joe Fusion, CC-BY-NC 2.0)

Though Vault has expanded to both Grand Rapids and downtown Detroit since that time, it is a linchpin of Main Street and provides some local color to the increasingly upscale corridor. What good is a two thousand dollar backpack if you don’t have some great comics to put in it? (Personally, I always keep a copy of the My New Filing Technique Is Unstoppable collection in whatever bag my laptop is in, just in case.)

Anyway, I bet I’m missing a comic store or two that I didn’t make it to over the years. Please feel free to share your memories below, as well as whatever book you keep in your bag at all times.

What’s Not Closing at Briarwood

The more things change, the more some things stay the same, so I thought it might be fun to highlight some things that aren’t changing, for once.

Tonight’s entry is illustrated by vintage photos of Briarwood Mall I took about four to five years ago, which I will republish in a collection if I can ever figure out how to suck the 150-odd photos, and the captions I lovingly composed for each, out of the one-way content tar pit that is Instagram. When, lord, will someone create a Mastodon, but for photos?

Exiting Sears: “This isn’t goodbye.” (C) A2RS

Sears isn’t closing. As the Sears/Kmart empire continues to contract, one hundred more stores nationwide got their papers today. Among them, NOT the Briarwood store. To be sure, Briarwood has gone through some changes recently — it’s gotten almost completely out of the home electronics trade. The aisles of TVs, stereos, games, and accessories are now one rack of inexpensive headphones. Small appliances and vacuums have filled the space. The appliance, hardware, and outdoor sections are still somewhat substantial. Maybe Sears’ downsizing will finally lead to a right-sizing where this is one of a lean regional chain of department stores. Who truly can say?

There’s only one store in Briarwood that sells Macs, and it isn’t Macy’s. (C) A2RS

Macy’s isn’t closing. They announced seven more closures today — one in Michigan, but not at Briarwood. Macy’s expansion was driven by acquiring other regional chains. As a southeastern Michigan kid, I have vague memories of the Downtown Detroit Hudson’s store (and much more vivid memories of other area locations closer to home). Right around the time I’d finally made peace with Marshall Field acquiring Hudson’s, Macy’s swooped in and assimilated Field’s and there’s nothing particularly endearing about them to me anymore. They can’t even do nostalgia right. (That’s a link from their website that says “Miss Marshall Field’s? Get a t-shirt.”) If they folded this year, I guess I’d still call the Amazon Thanksgiving Day Parade the “Macy’s Parade” for a few years.

If you look real close there’s a Teavana behind the monolith, next to Brookstone, which is kind of poignant. (C)A2RS

Teavana isn’t closing. Which, I think, is the craziest story. Teavana was an independent tea retailer for fifteen years before becoming the Tea Division of Starbucks in 2012. Since then, Teavana has become the tea brand brewed and sold in Starbucks stores.

Last year, Starbucks decided they were going to pull the plug on the stand-alone Teavana retail stores. But Simon Property Group, owner of Briarwood among many other malls, said “no, you can’t close the stores in our malls, you signed a lease.” Now, many stores have closed in Briarwood, and many of them before their leases were up. But those stores were usually bankrupt and ceasing all operations. Teavana is a subsidiary of Starbucks, and Starbucks can’t claim it can’t afford it. So Simon sued Starbucks to make them keep the stores open, and a superior court in Indiana agreed! Starbucks appealed, and the case is headed to Indiana Supreme Court.

Reno at the Colonnade

Good news for the Colonnade, on Eisenhower, is that the Bagger Dave’s space is under active renovation. Stripped to the bare walls, all traces of the train-friendly burger and beer spot have been obliterated, save for the distinctive dark backing for their sign.

Ext. of the former Bagger Dave’s space at the Colonnade. (C)A2RS

Note that the new plan apparently includes some garage-door-style retracting windows to let some fresh air in — but only halfway. Here’s a close-up:

Detail of retracting windows at former Bagger Dave’s. (C)A2RS

Bagger Dave’s was an original concept from a company that franchises a number of Buffalo Wild Wings locations in Michigan – an attempt to branch out from licensing and create their own concept. It continues to prosper in other areas, but ultimately folded in Ann Arbor this summer, after they made their patties larger.

What’s moving in here to utilize those windows? Heck if I know. But it happens to be next to Moe’s, my second favorite burrito spot (first is BTB), so I’ll keep you posted.

State Street Hotel & Outlot Update

I swear the Hyatt Place has barely opened its doors, and now another hotel is coming to South State Street. Decades-long SSS fixture Computer Medic closed its doors last summer:

Finally, its building was fenced off for impending demolition, with Homewood Suites signs on the fences. I predict this will be Arbor Networks’ and some of the Wolverines’ new favorite hotel, as it is going up across State Street from the brand new Athletic Campus (specifically the Lacrosse Stadium).

Speaking of Hyatt Place, its outlot building continues to be available for lease and unfinished inside, waiting for a fast-casual or retail establishment to come in and put a stamp on it. The options are limited a little by a lack of drive-thru, which even coffee shops are getting now. But you know what it DOES have? A bike repair station and a doggie water fountain:

The bike repair station has a green roof with solar panels… I think for the lighting? (C)A2RS.
A ped-and-pet-friendly fixture for one of the least walkable places in town. (C)A2RS
The repair station is covered and boasts a power outlet for quick recharges. (C)A2RS

Finally, a little ways south of here, the Staybridge Suites is getting a similar outbuilding very close to the corner of State Street and Research Park Drive.

Its sign suggests “restaurant, retail, bank,” which… that’s vague. (C)A2RS

It looks like it’s at least two floors so maybe they’ll house multiple businesses. Black Rock Bar & Grill opens across the street this weekend, so it probably won’t be a steak place.

Black Rock opened earlier this month, kitty-corner from this building (you can see its lights through the windows of the partially-completed building in the photo above). They stripped the squat and unassuming Chi-Chi’s down to its bare walls, then re-envisioned it with high ceilings and huge windows for natural light. There are eye-catching fixtures on the outside that look like torches. People who have visited really like it, but personally when I eat out, I want a professional to cook my food (and a self-taught amateur retail analyst to do my blogging).

A2RS: Your Personal loCation Scout

The Internet was recently captivated by “Cat Person,” published in the New Yorker earlier this month. Although a work of fiction, its story of an ephemeral relationship moving from public flirting to confessional texts to a dismaying physical encounter was extremely relatable to today’s women and extremely noooope-that’s-not-me to today’s men.

The author, Kristen Roupenian, is a graduate of U-M, and there are just enough Ann Arbor specific details to make it clear that the story is set here. So, here are the venues where I imagine the events of the story to take place. Was anyone asking for this? Of course not — but a year ago, nobody was asking for an opinionated blog about store openings and closings in Ann Arbor, either, and, well, here we all are!

The story begins at “the artsy movie theatre downtown.” This is almost certainly the Michigan Theater:

The Michigan Theater

“The Michigan Theater,” Molly Kleinman, CC BY-NC 2.0.

The Michigan’s quadroplex neighbor The State, recently reopened a few steps up Liberty Street, presents a similar selection of arthouse fare among the midnight movies and Star Wars series — but only the Michigan served wine, as Robert jokes about (and even then, only to members of its nonprofit parent). The Michigan Theater Foundation programs both venues. In August, MTF sought an alcohol license for the State for its reopening, but it was not open by the New Yorker’s time of publication, so the Michigan is most certainly the theater where Margot and Robert meet.

Their Red Vines study-break takes place at a 7-Eleven. There are now three of them downtown. Two of them — State Street and South Forest — are within a block of residence halls. In the story, Margot is a dorm dweller — this is actually kind of rare because U-M’s residence capacity is far below its enrollment, which is why high-rise apartment buildings have sprung up everywhere downtown in the past decade. Anyway, one of these is where Robert bought Margot her Cherry-Coke Slurpee™, which was almost certainly made by layering cherry and Coke flavors. Although you can sometimes find Wild Cherry Pepsi, they don’t really make a Cherry Coke flavor right out of the Slurpee tap.

Here’s the State Street store right after it opened (well, here’s me, and it’s in the background):

And here’s the South U store, courtesy of Google Street View:

If you’ve been away for a while, this is roughly where the Student Bike Shop was. And if you click through to GMaps, you can go back to 2007 and see it before it and Village Corner were leveled and Landmark was erected.

For their movie date after the holiday, Robert suggests they visit “the big multiplex just outside town.” Later in the story it is identified as the Quality 16. The Q16 is a real 16-screen theater, operated by regional exhibitor Goodrich Quality Theaters. It’s in Scio Township, which is only about a ten minute drive west of downtown and doesn’t actually require the highway miles alluded to in the story, but I suppose it’s still a difficult row to hoe if your parents didn’t send a Lexus with you.

Goodrich Quality 16. (C)GQTI/Yelp.

After the depressing film at the Quality 16, Robert takes Margot out for a drink. She suggests a bar familiar to her, and to be honest, I’m not sure which one this is. A popular bar near the Michigan Theater used to have a reputation for serving students and not looking too close at the ID, but has become so popular in recent years that it can afford to turn them away. Feel free to nominate which one you think it is in the comments. I am a boring dude and didn’t drink before I was legal, so I honestly don’t know, but Robert dismisses this bar’s neighborhood as “the student ghetto,” which is your first clue to where it is, and also your first clue that Robert is ta-rash.

Robert ends up taking Margot to “an underground speakeasy type of place, with no sign announcing its presence.” Obviously the author is referring to Bab’s Underground Lounge, located in the basement of an otherwise nondescript building on Ashley Street.


“This photo of Babs’ Underground is courtesy of TripAdvisor”

As a young professional, I frequented Bab’s when it was around the corner on Liberty in a street-level space, with one pinball machine, live jazz, and copious amounts of cigarette smoke. Its space was previously the final location of The Flame and is now the Alley Bar.  At some point Bab moved around the corner and downstairs. I have visited the Underground once or twice, and was utterly confused, which is pretty depressing, because it probably means I am older than Robert.

EDIT: It has been pointed out to me that the bar could also be The Last Word, which would be right on their way into downtown from the Q16. Here it is below.

When Bab’s the underground speakeasy type of place turned Margot away, Robert “took her hand firmly and led her to a different bar, where there were pool tables and pinball machines…” The downmarket description of this bar suggests the beloved 8-Ball Saloon, about a block from either Bab’s or the Last Word.

Eight Ball Alley

“Eight Ball Alley,” Ross, CC BY-NC-2.0.

The 8-Ball is the bar below the Blind Pig, which everyone in Ann Arbor will tell you is Nirvana’s Favorite Place to Play. As unpretentious as the Pig is, the 8-Ball really is even less so. Both bars were recently purchased by a local investment group who says they intend to keep them as-is, so that’s a relief.

From this point on, it’s a little difficult to identify particular venues where the story goes. There is a moment in Margot’s favorite bar, but we don’t get quite enough info to say “oh yeah, that’s definitely Good Time Charley’s” or “…the Brown Jug” or “…Rick’s.” Although the notion that Robert could be reading a book in there definitely rules out a few of the places in the student neighborhoods.

I wholeheartedly recommend reading “Cat Person,” though be forewarned it contains explicit sex and trenchant misogyny. If you are a woman, it has probably happened to you, and if you are a man, you should read it for tips, because IT COSTS $0.00 NOT TO BE LIKE ROBERT.

P.S. Let’s make 2018 the year we stop calling things “ghetto.” Not an attack on the author, just a shot across the stout, hairy bow of men like Robert.