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Kathy Sample and Bill Brinkerhoff

Argus Grows

Clague's Grocery is now a second Farm Stop.

by Sabine Bickford

From the October, 2017 issue

The second Argus Farm Stop opened in late August at Packard and Dewey. Owners Kathy Sample and Bill Brinkerhoff are running it on the same model as their original store on Liberty: local suppliers drop off their crops and artisanal edibles at the market daily and receive 80 percent of their chosen price for everything they sell. Though the Packard stop doesn't have the signature greenhouse seating area of their original spot, it does have a coffee bar and seating in a similar style.

"I'd say everything we learned over the last three years we tried to build into Day One here," says Brinkerhoff. That includes more refrigerator and freezer space, which Sample says allows them to carry a few new local dairy products. Though the coolers have vintage cases, the mechanicals inside are new--there's a company that makes them for stores that want an old-fashioned look.

The couple has redone the entire 1926 building, which after decades as Clague's Grocery (Then & Now, September) did stints as a pet store and bicycle shop. It was vacant for seven years before being acquired by developer Alex de Parry, who also owns their original building.

Brinkerhoff says they'd actually wanted to put the first Argus there but settled on the former gas station at Liberty and Second instead. The most obvious change is a bright-yellow paint job that makes the formerly forgettable building hard to miss.

When Brinkerhoff and Sample started the original Argus Farm Stop in August 2014, neither had any experience in the industry--Brinkerhoff worked in pharmaceuticals, while Sample had a corporate career--but they had a clear conception of a kind of everyday farmers' market to showcase and promote local goods. The name is a tribute to Argus, Inc., an Ann Arbor camera company that in its heyday employed hundreds at its factories on the Old West Side, Brinkerhoff's father among them.

We met local organic farmer Dick Dyer when he stopped by to deliver a

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few varieties of his specialty garlic. Dyer, who says he's known Brinkerhoff and Sample "since the market was just an idea," says the format works well for him: "The once-a-day farmers' market is pretty effective for [shoppers] who can get there that day, but when they want something three days later, they need to know where another market is."

In September, Sample recommended the "unbelievable" peaches. By this month, she's looking forward to pawpaws, chestnuts, and winter squash.

Argus Farm Stop, 1200 Packard, 997-5448. Mon.-Fri. 7 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat. 7 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun. 8 a.m.-6 p.m.    (end of article)

[Originally published in October, 2017.]


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