Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Buy Local in Ann Arbor: Ashley Street

29. November 2007 • Juliew
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Since Buy Local Week starts Saturday, I’m planning to highlight a few local shopping areas in the next few days. Not only does shopping locally keep more money in our economy, it is a lot more fun!

Ashley Street. You could get a great present for anyone on your holiday shopping list just in a few blocks! Most of the stores are locally owned, but with a few interesting small chains thrown in, it is the mix we all hope to see in our downtowns.

The anchor store on Ashley is Downtown Home and Garden. A wonderful mix of old-fashioned and new-fangled. You can buy great kitchen supplies, plants, ornaments, bread, gloves, birdfood, salt, traction sand, Christmas greens, toys, and many other items. During the holidays, they roast chestnuts over an open fire and feed their customers. Yum!

Red Shoes doesn’t sell any shoes, but they have a wonderful selection of jewelry, art (some made by the owner), candles, rugs, pillows, toys, and the most talked-about fairy door in town. Next to Red Shoes is Lexi’s Toy Box, a brand new toy store selling toys that your kids can play with without worrying about ingesting heavy metals. They have the coolest wooden toys and stuffed animals at reasonable prices. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, or the solstice, they have an appropriate gift. Note, they will also be open on Sundays from noon to 4:00pm during the holiday season. Three Chairs has amazing furniture. If Three Chairs isn’t your thing, check out Dream on Futon. Don’t forget to stop in and get a holiday tattoo or assorted body-part piercing at Lucky Monkey.

If you need even more shopping just a hop from Ashley, turn down Liberty and visit the Ann Arbor Art Center (holiday gift and gingerbread house classes are still available), West Side Books, and Acme Mercantile.

For refreshments, Cafe Zola serves great breakfast, the Fleet, Eastern Flame or the Old Town have great lunches and try Pacific Rim or Grizzly Peak for dinner. Stop by Sweetwaters for a warming cup of your favorite beverage.

Parking is available on Ashley, in the Klines Lot, the Fourth and William lot, the Brown lot, First and Washington, or the Ann-Ashley structure. The Blake Center bus station is just two or three blocks away.

  1. Thanks for posting this, Juliew. I know the ED, Lisa, and she is just awesome—she has worked so hard to promote this idea and organization. On the Think Local First page, you can sign the buy local pledge! :)

       —TeacherPatti    Nov. 29 '07 - 05:00AM    #
  2. Note that the Ypsilanti pledge page has 37 people signed up as of right now, while the Ann Arbor pledge page has a mere 19. Including Jim, the Ypsilantian (and owner of Depot Town’s Cafe Luwak ) who set up the pledge pages, and is listed as the first pledge on both. Come on, Ann Arbor, get with the pledging!

    See also related A2News coverage at Shop Ypsi has suggestions , Shadow Art Fair set for Dec. 1 , and op-ed Buy locally and create jobs , all from Sunday’s News.

    (Is this comment more obnoxious for the Ypsi-centrism, or the Murph-centrism? You decide!)

       —Murph.    Nov. 30 '07 - 09:36AM    #
  3. Excuse me Murph, but I tried to use your link to the AA pledge and found myself at the Ypsi one. Selecting the Ypsi one also brought me to the Ypsi one. Yeah, I can work around it but I thought you’d like to know. Is there a Ypsi-centric message here?

    And as far as the ‘buying local’ goes, please remember that buying local can be fun all year long.

       —abc    Nov. 30 '07 - 06:46PM    #
  4. Oops – too many cut/pastes in a row; I missed a “cut”.

    The links are and

    Not that I mind accusations of Ypsi-centrism.

       —Murph    Nov. 30 '07 - 08:05PM    #
  5. I think Ypsilanti is a great city and when we aren’t in Ann Arbor, chances are we are in Ypsi. We have spent a lot of money there over the years (bought half our furniture at Materials Unlimited, bought our car there, we eat at the Sidetrack a lot, our CSA is in Ypsi). Lots of my friends live there. My neighbors own businesses there. We spend a lot of time going to parades and special events in Ypsi. I truly admire the work that Murph, Mark Maynard, the Greffs, and others have done to promote the local economy there (which is really “our” local economy since we are all in Washtenaw County and share many of the same resources). But geez, every time someone says something good about Ann Arbor, doesn’t mean someone from Ypsi has to trump it. It makes for an adversarial relationship that doesn’t help any of us. I don’t even really know why there has to be a distinction between shopping locally in Ann Arbor and shopping locally in Ypsi. Are you saying that shopping in Ypsi isn’t local if you live in Ann Arbor. That seems pretty darn counter-productive to me.

    I started posting these Ann Arbor-centric posts because there hasn’t been much publicity about locally-owned stores in Ann Arbor. Other than the generic editorial saying “shop locally,” the Ann Arbor News hasn’t promoted any Ann Arbor stores, all they have had was the article about shopping in Ypsilanti and a list of the hours for all the local big-box stores. Seemed time to showcase some Ann Arbor stores too.

    So back to Ashley Street, local author Tracy Gallup will be signing copies of her nifty Crazy book series (published by Mackinac Island Press) at Red Shoes from noon to 2:00 on Saturday so stop by if you are a fan.

       —Juliew    Dec. 1 '07 - 01:20AM    #
  6. Juliew brings up a great point that I have been noticing lately (not from you, Murph :)). I was in another group that was based out of Ypsi, and some folks were teasing that they “let” the A2 girl join. That’s fine. But there were some folks who were intimating that I was rich because I live in A2 (um…Detroit Public Schoolteacher here! I make a good wage, but not a great one) and there were little snarky comments made about A2 vs. Ypsi. I have often heard that there are A2 people who won’t go into Ypsi (which is really dumb, IMHO. I have heard A2 people make nasty comments about Ypsi…and I get right up in their grille, as my students say.), but I’ve never gotten that kind of ‘tude from Ypsi, and it was really weird.

    I’m sorry—I don’t mean to turn this into an A2 vs. Ypsi thing, but like Juliew said—it’s counterproductive to us all.

    Fwiw, I didn’t mind at all what Murph said, and it was kind of funny how he accidentally linked both links to the Ypsi pledge sheet :)

    Shop locally in Washtenaw County, friends!

       —TeacherPatti    Dec. 1 '07 - 03:23AM    #
  7. I’m certainly no anti-Ann Arbor zealot, and I’d consider, say, Shaman Drum, Encore Records, and Get Your Game On to be within my own personal “shopping locally” radius, as an Ypsilanti resident, since those are locally owned and the closest places to home I can find new-not-used books, used-not-new records, and nerdy board games, respectively. (Okay, actually there’s a gaming store somewhere in a strip mall along Washtenaw, but I can never find it.)

    So, Juliew, I was offering up a friendly challenge to try to draw attention to the pledge, rather than offering up any kind of hostile Ypsi-is-better statement. (As to why there are different pledges, it’s because a group of folks in Ypsi set up the pledge website, and then Lisa from Think Local First , who’d been working with them, asked about an A2 version.

    Considering that Ann Arbor is effectively the employment, commerce, and cultural center of Washtenaw County (Detroit not providing quite enough gravitational pull to make us true suburbs of it), I doubt any of the folks in the Shop Ypsi effort are making an effort to consciously avoid it (heck, half of them commute to A2 daily), but, as Patti says, Ypsi certainly needs all the good press it can get.

       —Murph.    Dec. 1 '07 - 07:11PM    #
  8. Very well said, Murph! (As always :)). As I said, I live in A2 and go to Ypsi all the time. And, I will continue to get up in the grille (I really love that phrase) of the Ann Arbor people who dis (as the kids used to say) Ypsi. I think it’s nice that the two cities kind of compliment each other, in terms of locally owned stores in the downtown. Like, Ypsi has the five and dime store, which is just cool.

       —TeacherPatti    Dec. 2 '07 - 01:58AM    #
  9. Speaking of local Ann Arbor businesses, I’d like to add Chocolate House of Ann Arbor to the list. They’re on Main Street across the street from Real Seafood and sell chocolate treats, coffee, smoothies and ice cream.

       —KEF    Dec. 3 '07 - 03:45AM    #
  10. Old Town is worth a visit these days, just to see the whole herd of origami reindeer that festoon the place—hand-folded by staff. Some of them are maybe 2 feet long.

       —HD    Dec. 13 '07 - 10:27AM    #
  11. Just wanted to say thanks to the original poster. I found the perfect gift for my daughter with your help.

       —Eric    Dec. 23 '07 - 11:28PM    #