John Leidy Closes
Another family business succumbs
After nearly sixty years as Ann Arbor's premier purveyor of fine china and crystal, and for decades the first stop for many Ann Arborites looking for the perfect, high-end gift, the John Leidy Shop planned to close its doors for the last time at the end of February. It's the latest small, family-owned Ann Arbor business to fall victim to a rapidly changing retail environment.
John Leidy opened the store in 1951 in the Michigan Theater building on East Liberty. Widowed in 1955, he married Ann Melius in 1959, after meeting her at a trade show and persuading her to move from New York, where she worked for an importer. Together they opened a second location on the other side of the theater entrance in the sixties.
When Leidy died in 1993, his daughter Liz Arsenault took over the store. She oversaw the consolidation of both shops into one location in 2006, a decision made to lower overhead in the face of competition from big-box stores and the Internet. Then came the recession. With the lease on the original store coming up for renewal this year, Arsenault and her siblings decided the time had finally come to close their father's original location as well. It wasn't just the family that felt the loss: she says she's been touched by how many old customers dropped by in the last couple of months to say good-bye and to share their memories of both her father and the store.
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[Originally published in March, 2010.]