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Sofia's Is Not a Brixmor Fan

Ousted from Maple Village, a tailoring family moves on

by Sally Mitani

From the July, 2017 issue

"We didn't fit their 'profile,'" says Maria Georgiadis, whose mother, Sofia Georgiadis, opened Sofia's Tailoring nearly forty years ago in Maple Village. Maple Village's profile used to be an aging strip mall anchored by Kmart, an island of practical goods and services within walking distance of many homes and on a well-traveled bus route. But that profile has been getting a good deal of plastic surgery lately, and Maria doesn't like how landlord Brixmor operates. From her new digs on W. Stadium, two driveways east of Pauline, she gave a scorcher of an exit interview.

She wanted to clarify that she couldn't be happier with her new location (far from sounding bitter, her eyes sparkle as she dishes--she likes to speak her mind): "We had an awesome prom season. We literally do the tailoring for five high schools." Her new space is light and airy, and sewing machines whir in the background. A family friend stopped in with an armful of white costumes for the upcoming Greek Festival: "You can use Mom's machine," Maria directed her. Sofia still comes in, Maria says: "We give her all the specialty projects," like hand crocheting repairs to lace tops. "They don't teach that anymore," her daughter says. "People ask me where I learned my trade, and I say the University of Sofia."

Though it all ended well, Maria says she left Maple Village because she was kicked out: "They don't want small businesses. They want big-box businesses; they can charge more rent per square foot." Even for tenants who have lease-renewal options, she says, Brixmor's strategy is to wait till the last minute then "make you an offer of a new, worse space at a higher rent. They'll have you moving around like puppets." In her case, she was tipped off last October that Brixmor wanted her out, so she had plenty of time to find a new space. Even so, after forty years, it stung.

Another favorite Brixmor

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maneuver, she says, is bringing in a store that's directly in competition with an existing tenant. Around 2009, she says, "I opened a second shop in Roundtree [Ypsilanti, owned by xADBrixmor--then called Centro] and had it in my contract that they wouldn't have another tailor there. Guess what? They opened another tailor shop there." She left at the end of her lease and concentrated on the Maple Village business.

"And have you ever heard of a landlord that wants all your bank statements?" Neither had Georgiadis, but it crept unnoticed into the last lease she signed. Suddenly Brixmor was "sending me notices that I was in violation of lease. They said, 'We want copies of your bank deposits,'" presumably so they could verify their claim to a percentage of her revenues.

In June, she was still dealing with Brixmor. "I have clothes stored over there. My lease is up at the end of the month, and they closed me out of the front door! They tore up the sidewalk." When she complained, she was told Brixmor "didn't know the contractor was starting that day."

"I said, 'Really? Contractors start any time they want?'" Her front door was then connected to the parking lot by a plywood ramp.

Sofia's Tailoring, 1821 W. Stadium, 665-7099. Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Closed Sun.     (end of article)

[Originally published in July, 2017.]


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