Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Jefferson Market to Close October 1

5. September 2007 • Juliew
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The text of an e-mail sent by Jean Henry this morning:

Dear customers, neighbors and friends—
With equal measure heartache and relief, I must tell you that JEFFERSON MARKET WILL BE CLOSING ON OCTOBER 1st. While I appreciate that many of you will find this news a bit of a blow, I hope you will understand also that I would not take this step were there any other viable alternative.

We will continue our current schedule with coffee, pastries and full menu service for September, though blueplate dinner specials and catering are discontinued. I hope you will take time this month to say goodbye, celebrate community, have a few last meals and pastries, and take advantage of great savings on our remaining store stock.

For seven years, we have been graced to serve this intelligent, compassionate and vibrant community. In acknowledgment, throughout the month we will be filling our front windows with photographs, new and old, of our customers, employees, vendors and friends. Please feel free to post your own pictures, thoughts and wishes for the future.

The business will remain for sale as is for a few months. Realtor information will be available shortly. Rental inquiries for alternative businesses can be directed to the landlord, Issa Properties.

This market has served the neighborhood in various guises since at least 1924. I have no doubt that someone will step in shortly to continue that legacy. I hope you’ll welcome them into the community as you did us. Thanks so much for your patronage, support and understanding. I will keep you all posted of any further developments.

Yours, Jean Henry

  1. Sad.

    I was also just told that Anderson Paint in leaving their downtown location, but have yet to confirm the source’s info.

       —todd    Sep. 7 '07 - 11:25PM    #
  2. Really? Man. There are more and more empty storefronts in downtown. This is rough.

    I’m bummed to see The Jeff go. That’s a loss.

       —OWSider    Sep. 8 '07 - 12:54AM    #
  3. Yup, Anderson Paint is leaving the downtown store. I wish I could be more sympathetic since we have bought a lot of paint there over the last few years, but dang they made it hard for the average person to shop there! No Sunday hours, closed early on Saturdays, no late hours during the week, definitely geared toward contractors. We ended up having to go to Stadium Hardware to finish up most projects anyway so now we just start there. Like Ehnis and Sons, I really wanted Anderson Paint to be downtown, but the reality is, their business model just made it tough to shop there.

    As for Jefferson Market, I think that is a business that can work, but not for a single mom of two young children. It was great when it was a couple and both Matt and Jean worked there (especially since Matt is such an amazing cook and that was where they made their money), but for one person it is too much. Running a small business just isn’t a 9-5 kind of job. And yes, I am very sad to see it go. It was kind of a dream place for the first four or five years.

       —Juliew    Sep. 8 '07 - 03:27AM    #
  4. Yeah, I’m sorry to see them leave, too. It was really great to have a family-friendly place nearby with good, healthy food, and that didn’t require fighting the crowds downtown. It was also one of the first places I would take out-of-town guests when showing them around the neighborhood.

    One thing that I’ve always wondered about the Jeff — would a more substantial weekend breakfast service have generated an increase in sales? (I’ve always been a bit disappointed with the breakfast scene downtown, and Angelo’s is too crowded.)

    Here’s my crazy idea for the Jeff: convert it into a co-op (or sell it to the People’s Food Co-op), and add a weekend brunch menu that includes some more substantial breakfast dishes: huevos rancheros, eggs benedict, pancakes & french toast, etc.


       —WestWash    Sep. 9 '07 - 07:29PM    #
  5. Just how much do people want Jefferson Market to remain?

    From Jean Henry at Jefferson Market:

    I am writing because several customers and friends have expressed an interest in exploring a community-owned model (though not strictly co-op model) for running Jefferson Market. I’ll be meeting next week with some people in the know to run some numbers on the idea.

    I am interested in getting feedback from you, our loyal clientele, about it. Is it something you would support? Would you be willing to buy a stake in a community-run business? The community has always been emotionally invested in the business. This, for many reasons, has not always translated to money in the door—or at least not enough money. Would a financial stake change (and more comprehensive management) change that? Are there enough of you out there? That is really the big question.

    I am of mixed feeling about the whole thing; there have been many ninth hour reprieves for the market, and I’m not sure I can steer this ship through yet another. Of course, if it’s a co-op, it wouldn’t be just me steering the ship, would it? And that’s really the point. I can no longer absorb singly the risks, costs and workload required. Would more captains make the ship run more true? Big questions.

    Please respond the this query by email at jeanhenry at earthlink dot net.

    If the numbers work and the response is good, I’ll hold an exploratory meeting sometime soon.

       —Juliew    Sep. 14 '07 - 01:23AM    #
  6. If there’s the interest, and if the interest is followed with money and time, I think that’d be an interesting route to go down.

    It doesn’t necessarily have to be a full co-op, as long as it meets Ms. Henry’s needs. For example, the Ypsi Food Co-operative does not own their building – however, a group of about a dozen food co-op members bought the building some years back, in order to provide the co-op with more stability to plan around.

       —Murph.    Sep. 14 '07 - 06:12AM    #
  7. i leave town for 1 month and one of best buisnesses in ann arbror decides to leave to : (
    something amazing better replace it or im going to be pissed…

       —Benjamin    Sep. 19 '07 - 09:13AM    #
  8. One week left to make your last visit and say your good byes.

       —just a voice    Sep. 24 '07 - 01:40AM    #
  9. I have mixed feelings about the closing of Jefferson Market. On one hand, it was an independently owned business that served the surrounding neighborhood, and that’s something one rarely sees any more. On the other hand, I sure got tired of hearing self-satisfied Eberwhite/OWSiders pat themselves on the back about their “funky neighborhood store.” I mean come on – this place sold overpriced kitsch along with comfort food ala Zingerman’s. The vibe was so pretentious that I could only stand to eat there once or twice before it was off my list. So I guess I’m ambivalent about its closing…

       —Treetown Crankpot    Sep. 24 '07 - 04:57AM    #
  10. here’s a most recent message from Jean as sent to the World Changing list

    Hello friends and neighbors—-

    Thank you for your warm wishes and patronage this last month. It has
    been very gratifying that so many care so much about this place. This
    will be my last update before we close on Sunday, September 30th at 8pm
    and until an announcement about the market’s future can be made. This
    is my final shot across the bow.

    There has been a great deal of interest in the co-op idea I floated
    before you a few weeks ago…. so much so that it has hindered at least
    one potential buyer from making an offer to buy the business outright. Yikes! Obviously, I need to clarify my position visa-vi a Jefferson
    Market co-op: I am interested in pursuing the idea ONLY if an outright
    sale of the business doesn’t go through. There have been many parties
    interested in a business purchase; the idea that they might be scared
    off by the co-op idea is very disturbing. The goal in the end is for
    this business to continue to serve the community, one way or another.

    Many people are interested in the co-op model and in having input into
    the business. Many are even willing to invest in a community-owned
    model. However, the question remains, who would run it? It can’t be me.
    The business requires much more time than I can provide from a very
    committed partner or partners to be viable in this location. That is a
    reality that few seem prepared to absorb. Ideas are great, but
    invested labor makes a small business work. Anyone with employees will
    tell you that this is not a situation that one can solve simply by
    hiring more people. Volunteer labor isn’t even a solution. So I thank
    you for your responsiveness, but, for now, the co-op idea is on the
    back burner.

    It is greatly reassuring that people love this business, what it
    represents, what it does and doesn’t do. At very least, it is clear
    that we have pointed up something people want in their lives, namely
    local businesses with a human face tailored to the community they
    serve. As the old spiritual goes, we all want a place “at the welcome

    I really can’t reiterate enough how much this model of business is
    threatened. If it is something you want, then you need to commit to
    your local businesses (and specifically any business that operates in
    this location) with your wallet in addition to your heart. Sometimes
    that may mean paying a little more or experiencing some inconvenience,
    but the returns on that minimal investment of either time or money or a
    bit of a walk are great for your community and your quality of life,
    not to mention the added dividend of generally better service and

    I would love it if this community could commit its considerable
    intelligence and creativity to being more proactive than prescriptive.
    I would love it if this community would spend its resources with
    intentionality and vigilance, if we could see each dollar and minute as
    an investment in something larger than a cup of coffee or a meal. It is
    no mistake that Walmart is advertising by telling people that the
    “smart” thing to do is to spend less for their stuff. But what do we
    stand to lose in the long run?

    The choices we make about how and especially where to spend our money
    have broad impacts on culture, environment and community. A lot can be
    lost if we fail to pay attention. Buying local is not a charitable act;
    it’s truly smart consumption, the best way to get real value for each

    I’m sorry to get up on my soap box here, but it is a natural response
    to the surprise so many have expressed that running this business
    profitably is a challenge. Small business owners with heart are
    participating in a kind of high-wire act requiring faith, vision, hard
    work and courage. They deserve your vigorous support. It is time for a
    sea change if we want a town that looks like us. It is time for us all
    to put our money where our heart is.

    It has been my great pleasure to spend the last seven years surrounded
    by staff, customers and neighbors so diverse, compelling and engaged.
    I wouldn’t write this missive if I didn’t believe we could all take a
    part in making a positive difference in the life of our town and

    Thanks so much. Jean

       —Edward Vielmetti    Sep. 27 '07 - 11:58PM    #
  11. My internet searches for information on ‘arcuna’ chickens/eggs have yielded few results. My one (word-of-mouth) lead is that Jefferson Market used to sell them and that JM was supplied by some egg farmer near Dexter.

    Anyone who used to shop at JM have any information at all on ‘arcuna’ eggs? Thanks.

       —HD    Jan. 10 '08 - 09:47PM    #
  12. Chickens near Dexter? Could it be John Harnois?

    They used to sell his eggs at Fresh Seasons, but I haven’t seen them in a while. Incidentally, he is (or was) a talented photographer too, and used to take great pictures of his birds.

       —Parking Structure Dude!    Jan. 10 '08 - 09:57PM    #
  13. HD, I think you should be looking for “Araucana” chickens. They lay beautiful bluish-greenish eggs. John Harnois has them (or had them anyway), and he sold the eggs at Jefferson Market. He had a hard time finding another place downtown to sell his eggs, but after some convincing and requesting, the Co-op now has them. The Araucanas don’t seem to lay much in the winter so they aren’t in his egg cartons right now, but as spring comes along, you will see them more. John’s eggs are great. They are our first choice and I’m SO happy the Co-op has them now. I think he is also trying to get them in to Arbor Farms and maybe Morgan and York.

       —Juliew    Jan. 10 '08 - 10:03PM    #
  14. Thanks Juliew, that reply came in the nick of time.

       —HD    Jan. 10 '08 - 10:39PM    #