Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Jefferson Market for Sale

24. May 2006 • Juliew
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It hasn’t been around all that long (only since 2000), but Jefferson Market has become a fixture in Ann Arbor and especially in and near the Old West Side. With the local owners, the charming interior, the fun toys, and the yummy food, it was exactly what the neighborhood needed. So the announcement this week that the store is for sale was quite a shock. The hope is that someone local will buy it and run it just the way it has been, but what are the odds (think Food and Drug Mart)? And of course, to make that work, they would have to bring Matt Banks back to do his magic in the kitchen, which has been missing since he left earlier in the year.



  1. That place sure is cute, but also very overrated. Its so very very pricey. I was always suprised the place stayed open, as to me it looked like a typical titanic waiting to happen.

    I also doubt you will see anything non-local open in that location. That was another problem with the place. Unless you lived in that neighborhood or where dropping/picking up someone from the school, they got absolutely no drive by traffic.

    I do like the idea of a the local neighborhood store, but in todays world you are going to have a very hard time making the business model work.

    Still, I wish them the best of luck, they seem like really nice people.


       —Just a Voice    May. 24 '06 - 06:19PM    #
  2. Interesting, I find their prices very reasonable. Their food was way better than many restaurants around town and the prices were a lot cheaper. They also stock items I like to buy (for example, John Harnois’ locally produced eggs). But I’m not very price sensitive—I go where my feet take me. I do, however, know of many people who make special trips to go there, including driving in from surrounding towns, so I don’t think the fact that they are not on a major thoroughfare is a problem. They also get hundreds of people doing walk-bys every day.

    I think the business is doing quite well, but the owners are now divorced and moving on in some fashion. I don’t know if selling the business was exactly a choice made by both parties or more of a divorce-court mandate.


       —Juliew    May. 24 '06 - 06:58PM    #
  3. Now we’re that much closer to seeing Murph’s prophecy come true—if the Jefferson Market closed, being a non-compliant use, no such business would be able to open there again. Larry Kestenbaum may have amended that to “closed for a year.”

    Maybe we should keep thinking about our zoning…


       —Dale    May. 24 '06 - 09:44PM    #
  4. Good, that place is a hufe ripoff anyways. I hope they open a Taco Bell in place.


       —Me    May. 24 '06 - 10:00PM    #
  5. But just think what a charming duplex it would make!

    Because, really, we’ve just about done the faux-industrial luxury loft to death (okay, so Liberty Lofts was an actual industrial structure); the neighborhood store is the next frontier in pretige housing.


       —Murph    May. 25 '06 - 02:02AM    #
  6. Jefferson Market has been around a lot, lot longer than 2000, it just used to be a dump is all, then jumped on the gentrification bandwagon in 2000. I recall buying 40’s more than once there in the early 90’s before heading to a rock show at the long lost venue The Lab, on Hill St. I’m not sure of the exact history but I think it dates way, way back.


       —Rodney    May. 25 '06 - 02:21AM    #
  7. Here ya go, before and after pics. I was always sort of surprised you could buy beer so close to a school.

    http://jim.rees.org/aa/johnnys.html


       —Rodney    May. 25 '06 - 02:27AM    #
  8. I definitely believe we need more ‘neighborhood markets’ – if only the zoning would allow it. I know I’d love one in my neighborhood that sold more than beer AND served as a community gathering place so that I could see neighbors and buy that one ingredient that always seems to be missing when I need it.

    Jefferson Market doesn’t make any money (I think they might actually loose money) on their groceries because they have such a small inventory. They sell them partly as a service to the neighborhood. That’s why they have the takeout food and catering, so that they can stay afloat. So yes, it is a bit of an iffy business model unfortunately.

    Jean has told me she’s selling the business mainly because it’s really tough to run a business well by herself and raise two children and remain sane at the same time. I don’t think it’s any more complicated than that. I’m sure she’ll find a good buyer, but I’ll guess it will take a while…


       —Lisa    May. 25 '06 - 04:07AM    #
  9. The pics aren’t all too fair. What differences can you see? Well, the only few differences I notice are;

    1- new sign
    2- windows opened rather than covered
    3- cuter pay phone sign
    4- one more railing on steps

    Now, I hadn’t been in the place before it became JM, and i’m sure the difference inside was huge, but those two pictures are not a very fair comparison of the exterior because;

    1- one was taken at an angle to crop out the parking sign
    2- one was taken at dusk, making the store look way nicer
    3- one was taken in winter, making the surroundings look less crapy

    Now, don’t get me wrong, the improvements they made on the location where many and great. But those two pictures are not a fair comparison, just fyi.


       —Just a Voice    May. 25 '06 - 01:11PM    #
  10. JaW wrote: “But those two pictures are not a fair comparison, just fyi.”

    And yet given a choice between which store I’d actually want to go in based on the picture, I have to say the obvious Beer, Wine, Groceries plus the neon LaBatt’s sign seals the deal for me for the old store.

    I used to go to the old store maybe once a month to grab something I was missing: poptarts, cheetos, a six-pack of cheap beer, a can of baked beans. Soon after the new store opened, I headed over there to see if they had a bag of marshmallows because I was grilling out and noticed already had graham crackers and chocolate but no marshmallows. What I discovered was that at the time there were no marshmallows on offer. Over the last 6 years, I haven’t found myself returning, so perhaps that’s changed. It’s not that it’s a decision based on principle, I just never think to go there.

    I was very skeptical the new JM would survive even a year, based on the sophisticated analysis: everyone is like me; I want marshmallows; they don’t have marshmallows; no one will go there. So I give them credit for differentiating themselves from a typical 7-11 style convenience store and making it work.

    I am curious to see what sort of retail goes into the long low section of Liberty Lofts. Perhaps the JM location is still nestled far enough back into the neighborhood that it won’t matter, but depending on what goes into Liberty Lofts, JM could have an easier or more difficult time.

    And thanks to Rodney for the link to Jim Rees’ site, which was a real delight to cruise through.


       —HD    May. 25 '06 - 02:44PM    #
  11. If you’ll permit a digression, Rodney mentioned The Lab, a long lost basement punk bar that served minors… here is a great page about it. I unwittingly assisted in the demise of The Lab when myself and 6 other Michigan Marching Band Tuba players moved in and renamed it Valhalla . The cops must have been thrilled to know that band geeks were living in the house, keeping it well-protected against any possible relapse into coolness. I’m glad we never got around to painting over all the interesting graffiti (“Snowboarders suck ass!”) and signatures on the basement walls, I wonder if any of it is still there.


       —eli    May. 25 '06 - 04:36PM    #
  12. The Jeff. Market is pricey, but I understand why, and I do buy things there from time to time. Guess I’m jes’ high-falutin’ like that or something. I hate marshmallows anyway. (Humor.)

    It’s good for buying one or two items if you live nearby and don’t want to drive all the way to some place to buy one or two things.

    I’d be surprised if a new owner didn’t keep a similar format, or at least kept either the kitchen or the groceries, but who knows, I suppose. The toys might go. Wonder if a buyer will wait to see what goes in Liberty Lofts (if anything does.) But I seriously doubt anyone could stay in business there just by selling liquor, and I kind of doubt selling it across from a school would fly anymore.


       —Young Urban Amateur    May. 25 '06 - 07:45PM    #
  13. i went to bach open (which was transferd to mack and combined with middle years allternative in 99 or so)

    the teachers didnt let us go there becouse supposdly the owners were mean. Im not sure how much truith there is to it, in 5th grade we would sneak over there to buy some candy but “just a voice” it was very differnt then it was a dank convience store, simmilar to busters market on packard (which just closed, i havent been to the one on s. maple) and now i always see kids from bach going there with their parents.
    it is expensive for me (a college student) but if you live on the westside then its resonable.

    I also feel that the west side hasnt realy been genterfied after all it was always the “old neighborhood” and it still is majority family housing unlike the neighborhood around wheeler park which was the black side of town, then became more white and is not 50% students and rising. Or north of commie to now its all students. I think the west side should be the least of our worries.
    allright im done.


       —benjamin    Jun. 6 '06 - 06:37AM    #
  14. Does anybody know who to contact about purchasing the Jefferson Market?


       —aaron    Jun. 8 '06 - 05:05PM    #
  15. aaron, did you start by calling the store itself??

    I’m guessing, NO.


       —Just a Voice    Jun. 8 '06 - 05:10PM    #
  16. too bad… nice place,good strong coffee and a couple of dishes i could eat 4 times a day without getting tired of the taste…hope some one inventive takes over that’s smart enough…oh i don’t care that much…good food though


       —ian    Oct. 25 '06 - 05:58PM    #