Goodbye to Golden Rose
And other marketplace closings
by Tony McReynolds & Sally Mitani
After twenty-seven years Carol Kliber has closed the Golden Rose flower shop on Green Road. At Avanti Hair Designers next door, Wanda and Ray Heinrich say that Kliber ended her tenure there with an auction of everything: "coolers, phone cords, right down to the pencils." The Heinrichs found it so upsetting, they couldn't buy anything. Original tenants, the Heinrichs have been in the Plymouth Green shopping center for thirty-five years.
"I could have kept going for longer," Kliber says, speaking from her home, where she's doing a bit of custom work for other florists, "but retailing is a tough road right now. I just didn't see a future." Her toughest competition came from the box lots of flowers sold in supermarkets (including Busch's next door), Sam's Club, and elsewhere. "They're retailing them at a price at which I can't buy them wholesale." At that price, you don't get the quality, she adds, let alone the personalized service or the consulting.
Cheap supermarket flowers are not a new phenomenon, but corporations used to be important clients for retail flower shops, and Kliber says businesses don't spend as much as they used to on flowers (one of her biggest customers was Pfizer, which, of course, now spends nothing at all). Kliber laments that she's out of sync with the times: "I have a more European concept of flowers. You don't do it for holidays. You do it because the concept itself has value."
"We were a victim of the economy," said Ride Boutique Bicycle Performance Center owner Chad Johnston, explaining why he closed his store on North Main in March. Johnston opened the store in July 2007 and specialized in scientifically fitting people to bikes with the aid of $10,000 worth of computers, monitors, video cameras, and special sports software. "We didn't have to close the store," he adds. He says they were making money-just not enough.
Patricia Allamend has closed Portofino Coffee, whose gentle tea-cozy decor had always seemed delightfully at
odds with its high-traffic node (the ganglion where Stadium, Maple, and Jackson come together). Allamend couldn't be reached, but Ashok Vashi, who owns the Quiznos next door, had a hunch why she closed: "The rent was too high." He doesn't know how much Allamend was paying, but he says he pays around $2,500 a month, and business is down 30 to 40 percent from a year ago.
Sbarro, one of the older food operations at Briarwood, is closed. Asked why, Tony, manager of Cinnabon, shrugged and said the lease was up. Andi, manager of China Wok next door, said he was surprised, because "people were eating there."
Both Ann Arbor Ritz Camera Center locations were victims of a chainwide purge as Ritz continues its desperate efforts to staunch hemorrhaging profits. At one point Ritz had 1,000 stores; by next year they'll be down to 400. In mid-May the Plymouth Mall store was already closed, but the State Street store was still liquidating inventory.
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[Originally published in June, 2009.]