Changes at the Colonnade
A ramble around the neighborhood
by Sally Mitani
For free entertainment you could do worse than stop in at the magic show that always seems to be going on at Oreck Clean Home Center, as the chain calls its stores now. It isn't just a vacuum cleaner store anymore. Mike Ervin likes to demonstrate products. At the moment, his favorite trick is to spray greasy furniture polish on a mirror and make it disappear with something called an E-cloth. E-cloths are a line of sustainable microfiber wipes and sponges for various surfaces. Used dry or dampened with water--never with detergent--they are machine washable and promise about 300 cleanings per cloth.
The magic show wasn't free after all; the E-cloth was too irresistible. But $14 later, Erwin stopped his demo long enough to talk about what happened to Green Health next door. You might remember Green Health opened a little more than a year ago, a franchise of a San Diego-based company that dried its own line of organic fruits and vegetables in an antiseptic, hot, sunny, and undisclosed location in Mexico.
Then again, you might not. "They were only there for four weeks," says Ervin. "It wasn't their fault," he says of franchise owners Heidi and John Obeid and their daughter Ashley Herzig, the store manager. "There was some problem, some lawsuit at the corporate level." Attempts to reach the Obeids or Herzig were unsuccessful, and the company seems to have made like their food and evaporated.
"Four weeks?" says Ali Hijazi. "It was more like one week!" Hizaji, owner of Zamaan Cafe on the other side of the Green Health space doesn't know any more than Ervin about the disappearance of the Obeids or Green Health corporate, but he decided to take over its lease. In late January, he was filling the former Green Health space's nearly pristine shelves. The space was about to become Reena Market.
Hizaji, who opened the Colonnade's Zamaan Cafe a few years ago (he has another on Plymouth Road), saw an
opportunity to put a much-needed convenience store in the shopping center. "People who live in the apartments around here come for lunch and dinner"--the Colonnade is a virtual food court of burgers, sandwiches, and inexpensive ethnic options--"but they need other stuff." And because Zamaan is already delivering, Reena Market will offer delivery, making it the first grocery store in town to deliver since White Market closed. "I'm trying it, anyway. We'll see if it works," Hijazi says with a philosophical shrug.
Because Middle Eastern is what he does, Reena Market will be a combination convenience store and Middle Eastern grocery. He was fretting slightly in late January that the transportation mess caused by the cold, snowy winter had delayed his opening date--the cheeses, the olives, the yogurts, and the spices were languishing in trucks in the wrong parts of the country. All he had on his shelves were his nonperishables--candy bars, cigarettes, soft drinks, grains, jars of tahini, and jars of kashk (powdered yogurt mixed with bulgur). Hijazi reels off a couple of classic recipes that use it, and says, "old men and women are always telling kids it's good for them."
As we were leaving, a girl of about eight stuck her head in and said "Is this your place? It's so cool! When you open, I'm coming in here to get a lot of candy." (Unless her parents are with her--then she's liable to get a jar of kashk.)
Zamaan Cafe itself has transformed since last time we checked in. Hijazi has a deft touch with interior design. The space is open, painted in light colors, and gently perfumed with the scent of cumin and mint. A glass case displays a large selection of baklava and similar pastries for a dollar each.
Down at the other end of the Colonnade, Children's Orchard snapped up a few empty nearby storefronts (the former Contours and Cartridge World) to open the second location of its sister operation, Style Trader. Jennifer Fields, the manager of Style Trader, which opened its first store a few years ago in Livonia, says the store deals in used clothing and accessories for teens, men, and women and was expected to open in February. "The fun, the thrill of the hunt, and the down economy," she says are all reasons why resale is flourishing. And like Children's Orchard, Style Trader will talk franchise with anyone who's interested. Children's Orchard, a network of forty stores started in 1980 on the East Coast, is now owned by local serial entrepreneur Taylor Bond.
Oreck Clean Home Center, 869 W. Eisenhower (Colonnade). 669-0700. Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun 11 a.m.-6 p.m. myoreckstore.com
Reena Market, 867 W. Eisenhower (Colonnade). 769-1113. Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun. noon-5 p.m.
Zamaan Cafe, 865 W. Eisenhower (Colonnade). 769-1113. Mon.-Thurs. 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Style Trader, 893 W. Eisenhower (Colonnade). 994-3400. Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun. noon-5 p.m. StyleTrader.biz
[Originally published in March, 2014.]