Eye Candy and Candy Candy
Pink Pump and This & That open.
by Sally Mitani
The trend in State Street fashion is flashy clothing for tiny undergraduates who go to a lot of parties. First came Poshh, then Pitaya. Allure amped up a notch or two in this direction, and now there's Pink Pump, in the former John Leidy store in the Michigan Theater building. Like Poshh, it has a name that tips its hand: you don't go there for cargo pants. While there are no actual pink pumps for sale at the moment, the store has plenty of other teeteringly tall shoes in a price range that doesn't leave much hope that they're comfortable too. Also for sale: sequin-encrusted tank tops, skintight stretch pants styled like five-pocket jeans but made to be worn with heels, and various shiny accessories.
Pink Pump is a four-store southeastern Michigan chain started by Tawny Thieu, a thirtyish woman who is all about girls who want to have fun. On the day we stopped by, Nichole Dilone, the manager, was a great model for the store's goods, wearing five-inch yellow suede pumps, a lacy tank, a leather bangle, and some skintight jeans with strategically placed peekaboo holes, all clothes from the company (though the pants aren't sold in the Ann Arbor store). "We all have to wear Pink Pump shoes," she says, "plus one other item from the store." They have to pay for both items, Nichole Dilone says, but she doesn't mind, because "we want to contribute to the store."
If you're even thinking about wearing a pair of these jeans, it might help to own some Morera breathable seamless underwear, which until recently you could have bought over at Moda Blue in Nickels Arcade. But Moda Blue closed at the end of the art fairs. "The economy wasn't good, our sales dropped," explains owner Ali Benli--who also admits, "I didn't know anything about clothing." His family in Turkey manufactured the Morera brand. He says the Turkish economy is doing fine--his family now makes clothing for
A few doors from Pink Pump, Andrea Graef just opened This & That, a candy store. "We don't have one in town," she says (meaning downtown). "We have gourmet chocolates...but we don't have anything with just regular candy." Graef, who has worked in medical records and in retail, seems surprisingly sensible and down-to-earth for a candy store owner. "I eat some candy, but it was a business decision. I wanted to be in this area because I wanted to be in the middle of students and locals, and Liberty is the gateway from State to Main. It [candy] is something everyone can afford." And she says she's well situated to catch the 400 residents of the new North Quad.
She carries everything from the old-time sweets to the disgustingly modern--Too Tarts, a Georgia company, makes spray candy, "monster goo," and candy that tastes like melted ice cream.
"I haven't had these since I was a kid!" exclaimed one customer at the cash register, who was buying candy buttons. She appeared to still be more or less a kid, proving that you're never too young for nostalgia. Graef also sells old-school toys like Slinkys and Silly Putty. And--make a note, whoever keeps the master list of these things--she has a fairy door.
Pink Pump, 601 E. Liberty. 761-5065. Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun. noon-6 p.m. shoppinkpump.com.
This & That, 611 E. Liberty. 929-2999. Mon.-Wed. 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Thurs.-Sat. 10 a.m.-midnight, Sun. noon-10 p.m.
Got a retail or restaurant change? Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, or leave voicemail at 769-3175, ext. 309.
[Originally published in September, 2010.]