Five Late-2017 Closings
Including Ray Albaneh's plucky Packard Pharmacy
From the February, 2018 issue
One year after its originally scheduled departure, English Gardens has finally left Maple Village. President John Darin is clear about the terms of the exit: "We're not leaving by our choice."
According to Darin, the garden store had been part of the landlords' plan to bring the shopping center up to a new level. They had discussed upgrades to the facility and a new greenhouse that English Gardens already had "designed and ready to go." But then Brixmor Property Group, "decided to go in a different direction." The departure was delayed twice from the originally scheduled January 2017 date, but after a weeklong liquidation sale, the building was vacated in early January.
"We're actually disappointed we stayed there all those years waiting for a transition of the center," says Darin. "Now the center is transitioned and business has improved, and we're not gonna be there."
So far, English Gardens has not been able to find a new Ann Arbor location, but Darin says they continue to look. In the meantime, they are offering free Garden Club memberships, which give 10 percent off all non-sale merchandise, to all Ann Arbor customers. Darin says they are also setting up free local delivery in Ann Arbor one day a week. He urges customers to go to englishgardens.com to sign up for their free membership and continued email updates.
The sixty-three-year-old Michigan staple has five remaining locations in Southeast Michigan. Darin says that Dearborn Heights and West Bloomfield Township are the two closest, and that customers can continue to purchase products and services online or over the phone while the search for an Ann Arbor location continues.
After just eight months at Washtenaw Commons, Jamba Juice has left Ann Arbor. While spots in the newly built strip mall have been steadily filling up with restaurants like Dickey's Barbecue Pit and the upcoming Poke Fish, the internationally prominent smoothie joint quietly packed up and left in late November.
Jamba Juice was
in direct competition with national competitor Tropical Smoothie Cafe, located on the same side of Washtenaw just across Pittsfield Blvd. It seems likely that both signed leases without being aware of the other: Tropical Smoothie Cafe opened in December 2016, just five months before Jamba Juice. Jamba's closest remaining franchise locations are in Livonia and Shelby Township--a considerable drive for the patrons who won promotions at the grand opening like "free smoothies for a year."
Giardino's on Jackson Rd. closed its doors in early October. Not to be confused with Chicago deep-dish staple Giordano's, Giardino's opened in July 2013 and served a variety of Italian dishes including oven-baked sandwiches, calzones, and twenty-three signature pizzas. A post on the restaurant's Facebook page says, "Regretfully, after five years, Giardino's closing its Restaurant doors. We are truly grateful to everyone who has supported us."
A year ago, we covered the opening of Packard Discount Pharmacy and owner Ridhwan "Ray" Albaneh's strategy to compete with giant chains like Walgreens and CVS. Unfortunately, it appears that low costs and personal service weren't enough. In November, a gate was drawn over his storefront at Packard and Platt, and "for rent" signs were posted in the windows. A few websites list a new "Packard Discount Pharmacy" in Dearborn, but our message to the new number went unreturned.
After a November sale of the Main and William BP gas station, The Little Store Too has been forced out of its small spot in the back of the building. "We really loved the place," says Aaron Carmichael, who with his wife, Christina Fensom, prepared and delivered "small-batch comfort food."
The Little Store Too was a "sequel" to Carmichael and Fensom's original Highland Township location. Carmichael says they'd like to stick around in Ann Arbor if they can, but so far they haven't had any luck in finding a new place: "If anyone knows of a spot, we'd be happy to come check it out!"
As of mid-January there were no signs of a major change at the station, but apparently one big one is in the works: the city has issued a permit for a new Mobil sign.
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