Granite, phones, and scratch-and-dents
"It used to be when it was only the rich people that bought granite, they would seek you out," says Shawn Keene. "You could be tucked back in [an industrial] park and do really, really well. Now that the general public is buying granite, they go to where they see it." So in August he moved his Ann Arbor Granite from the Ann Arbor Commerce Park to a new showroom on Jackson Road in front of the Quality 16 theaters.
Keene says that as granite gets more affordable, home owners are using it for more than just counters. In the most unusual application he's come across, a couple asked him to face their kitchen cabinets with granite-not on the outside, on the inside. "It blew me away," he says. "They wanted it to match the rest of the granite in the kitchen, and nobody will ever see it." Even if you leave the doors open, he points out, "your canned vegetables will be blocking it."
Ann Arbor Granite, 3780 Jackson Road in front of the Quality 16 Theaters, 477-0477, (800) GOT-ROCK. Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Closed Sun. annarborgranite.com
"We're mainly focusing on T-Mobile here," says Patrick Sinawe of his brand-new Go Wireless store on Packard. It's not to be confused with his brand-new Go Wireless store on Stone School Road a few miles away, which specializes in MetroPCS service. "MetroPCS-it's pretty new to this area," Sinawe muses. "No contract, unlimited minutes. It does very well in Detroit"-his parents own several phone stores there, on the city's east side. The twenty-three-year-old Sinawe says he's making a stab at market segmentation; he lives in Ann Arbor and thinks that even though his two Go Wirelesses both sell phones and aren't far from each other, there's enough demographic distinction to make separate stores viable.
He will also be selling Verizon service, and phones to go with it, at both stores. "I was always into electronics. They're my
thing," he says. "Right now we're waiting for our unlocked European phones, our specialty." ("Unlocked" phones can be used with any service provider.) Sinawe is especially enamored of the Nokia N95, which costs about $700: "The cool thing about it is the five-megapixel camera.
"I also like to carry every Bluetooth that's available on the market," he adds. "People who, for instance, like to ride a bike and don't like wind noise?" If that describes you, he's got a deal for you.
Manager Danny Samaha at the Stone School Road store has Bluetooth too, and his walls feature more Disney accessories than the Packard store.
Go Wireless; 3130 Packard, 975-8500, and 4069 Stone School Road (Stone Plaza), 369-8941. Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun. noon-5 p.m.
Big George's Clearance Mart is gone from the old Arbor Farms building on West Stadium-but "we didn't close it. It just moved into the main store," says Big George's vice-president Mark Bishar. "We only had a one-year lease and decided not to renew it," he continues, explaining that the separate storefront, down the street from the main store, ultimately seemed like a disservice to customers. "Who isn't looking for a deal? A lot of people were walking back and forth between the two stores. We do thirty to forty thousand dollars a month in 'scratch and dent'"-that's the behind-the-scenes term for what Big George's was selling at the clearance mart. Bishar says his company's online store (www.big-georges.com) is really the place to go for clearance deals anyway, because with that merchandise moving so fast, it's hard to keep the display inventory current.
[Originally published in October, 2008.]