Across the hall from Ed's is The Walking Company, a chain of about 250 stores selling predominantly European comfort brands, like the Dansko and Sanita clogs so dear to Ann Arbor women's hearts (this store sells only women's shoes, though other Walking Company stores sell men's). It also sells UGGs, ECCOs, and MBT rocker-soled shoes which employees Lindsay Phillips and Kaitlin Graf claim to be "way superior to the Sketchers knockoff. You can blow the Sketcher soles out in three months." MBTs not only last longer, they promise, but can be resoled, making them practically indestructible.
At the Sears end of the mall, replacing Dollar Dogs, is Very Berry frozen yogurt, with six flavors of self-serve and optional toppings. Three of the flavors are the newfangled ultra-tart stuff. Very Berry is owned by local partners Kwang Taek and Suni, who goes by one name.
In another move, Briarwood refused to renew the lease on the freestanding building housing Bennigan's, and manager Brandon Gilbert said the restaurant would be vacated by the end of January.
"It's a lease issue," says Gilbert. A hot concept back in the 1980s, the bar-and-grill chain lost out to newer competitors and fell into bankruptcy in 2008. Though franchisees kept many restaurants going--"there are still ten other Bennigan's in Michigan," Gilbert says--the Briarwood location is closing because its franchisee couldn't agree on new lease terms with its landlord, the Simon Property Group. An employee at Briarwood--also owned by Simon--says it's been leased to Red Robin.