Hello, and Happy New Year

Hello readers! A lot happened over the past few weeks, and and I’m sure I’ve missed some things, including an entire number + two point updates of WordPress. (I had to go from 4.9.9 to 5.0.2! This new editor… I’m sure I’ll get used to it.) So I’m probably going to miss some things, but maybe I saw some things that you didn’t see, so hopefully this won’t be a complete waste of your time.

The ongoing rightsizing of Sears continues. The latest store closings announced last Friday include a location upstate and the Twelve Oaks Mall store, a two-floor anchor near Apple Twelve Oaks. The Westland and Livonia Marketplace (formerly an anchor of Livonia Mall) stores remain open.

I had the chance to visit the Sears at Briarwood today, because it was raining and parking was available relatively close to the building. There were a number of bargain hunters picking over what was left, mostly clustered in the large Lands’ End and women’s apparel area near the entrance to the mall. Further back in the store there was a few racks of leftover tools and batteries, a handful of large treadmills and other fitness machines, and a couple of tired older folks just sitting in chairs to rest. (I don’t have any photos of this because my phone wasn’t working, which frankly, was why I had the chance to visit Briarwood today — but I may try to return and snap a few photos before the store closes for good on Sunday.)

More bad news:

The Electric Eye Cafe closed. It was a coffeehouse at Main and Depot streets, where there is not a ton of foot traffic that I am aware of. I think they may have had some art and performance programming that I sincerely regret never experiencing, though .

Fingerle Lumber is looking like it will close for good in February. It eventually leaked out that U-M was the buyer for the site. There is no word yet on what U-M will do with the site, though it is both:

  • in the floodplain
  • directly adjacent to the Athletic Campus

So your guess is as good as mine for now.

Performance Bicycle has begun its closing sale. My favorite pair of shorts for most of my college years was a pair of grey canvas shorts from Performance Bicycle – pockets deep enough to hold everything I needed, but they managed to keep a low profile. Its parent company struggled under debt, though, and now all of its brick-and-mortar stores are closing.

Performance formed bookends with Outback Steakhouse at Village Centre, at Ann Arbor Saline Road and Waters Road — it was the second occupant of the northeasternmost space in the center, a space originally occupied by Video Watch (and later its successor, Hollywood Video).

Bike retail is apparently a difficult business – Ann Arbor had a locally-owned store called Two Wheel Tango that suddenly closed both locations when it couldn’t afford to pay its main vendor, the bike brand Specialized. But other locally owned dealers continue, including Wheels in Motion on Washtenaw, Student Bike Shop downtown, Great Lakes Cycle on Stadium (current occupant of the very first location of Discount Tire), and a location of the Detroit area chain Fraser Bicycle – as well as Ann Arbor’s location of REI (full disclosure: my spouse is a member-owner of REI, but that isn’t an affiliate link or anything).


Exterior signage indicates that 7-Eleven will soon join Wild Poke as an occupant of Foundry Lofts’ street-level retail space on Huron Street between Division and State.

Friend and reader Jennifer tells me that Trader Joe’s is scouting for a west-side location on Jackson Road that would serve West Ann Arbor, Scio Township, and the TJ’s headz in Dexter and Chelsea, which makes sense considering how overwhelmed TJ’s Stadium Blvd parking lot is, nearly all of the time. (I seriously only go to TJ’s after 8pm if I can possibly help it, and I recommend it to all of you.)

In a congruous story, ALDI Nord, the parent company of Trader Joe’s, has apparently had plans for a while to expand to Carpenter Road on the east side. Across from Kroger. I guess that’s still supposed to happen someday. Probably sometime after the Circle K opens at Stadium and Packard:

Interior, Circle K, Packard and Stadium. (C)A2RS

In November, I was told that the management would receive the keys to the new Circle K store at the end of the month. It’s been a few weeks since then, and it’s clear that, though not quite complete, the location is almost ready to be stocked and staffed. I took this article’s photos through the windows.

Closeup of fountain taps inside new Circle K, Packard and Stadium. (C)A2RS

Twenty four taps? That’s bonkers. I am very curious what the four unlabeled taps in the middle will be. Syrup shots? Limited seasonal flavors? Bespoke artisan sodas? Shut he front door AND the back door.

The cost of the base-level Polar Pop has gone up since this store closed, from 69 to 79 cents. There’s a 44 ounce size (99 cents) that has appeared at other stores, that will hopefully pop onto the menu here too.

And a little more about me. I got the opportunity to speak at Ignite Ann Arbor 2018!

The above tweet, from Ann Arbor Chronicle publisher Dave Askins, made me kind of upset when I first read it. I have often cited the Chronicle as an inspiration for this site. And it also confirms he literally ignored every time I ever tweeted the Chronicle.
This embed doesn’t work right now. Keep working on it, WordPress! The link SHOULD start at my talk, but please watch the whole thing, every speaker was wondeful.

I have been to many Ignite Ann Arbor events before, and as you may know, I love to speak to groups! I was terrified to attempt an Ignite talk because the Ignite format means surrendering control of your slides. I love a tasteful fade, and most importantly, I love controlling when that fade happens. Ignite format demands you submit your slides as a PDF that autoadvances. Originally, I tried to subvert this by just filling the deck with a couple of historical shots of the site from AADL’s collection, then, in a sort of slow-mo time lapse, my own photos of the construction of the Circle K site.

At my first practice talk with the Ann Arbor Toastmasters, I petered out a few slides short. The Toastmasters encouraged me to go wider and show more of the vintage photos that you see in the final. The talk became less about one site and more about all the service stations along Packard Road – from 12 in the late 70s to 5 now.

I also got to have a chat with the fifth and sixth graders (47 minute video) in Ko and Jason’s class at Ann Arbor Open School! They had a lot of good questions about what Ann Arbor used to look like but I also got to talk about my blog and… The Book.

I may have alluded to The Book in the past, but I can now tell you that:

  • The Book is a project I undertook last year with Patti Smith, who is Ann Arbor’s preeminent living historian
  • The Book’s manuscript has been submitted to the publisher, The History Press (they published Patti’s previous Ann Arbor book, buy it now or read it on Kindle)
  • The Book is not a rehash of this site, it is nearly all new writing
  • The Book’s title will be “Vanishing Ann Arbor” and it will hit store shelves this summer
  • More info, like an ISBN and instructions to request it from your library, as I receive it

4 Replies to “Hello, and Happy New Year”

  1. Thanks Britain! We’ll have to form a boots on the ground team to go to bookstores and libraries and DEMAND THEIR VANISHING ANN ARBOR! And every time anyone on social media posts about books they are reading, our group will SHOUT!! 🙂

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