The New Frugality
So it goes with Ann Arbor's new frugality and the way local businesses are adapting to it. With fewer people buying $4,000 bikes, Two Wheel Tango owner Dennis Pontius is working more hours, and he's asking for discounts and rebates from suppliers. "They're willing to cave in on it now," he says, giving him room to pass savings onto customers.
Lewis, owner of Lewis Jewelers on West Stadium, says that in Christmas seasons past, he might have sold seven or eight pieces in the $100,000-$150,000 range. Last year it was zero. "I think it has to do with people's net worth," he says. "It's gone down." Customers are still buying engagement rings and anniversary gifts for $5,000 to $10,000, but "we have to be far more aggressive in our pricing," says Lewis.
"The whole world's on sale right now," agrees Nina Howard, owner of Bellanina Day Spa & Boutique on North Fourth Avenue. To bring in clients during slow periods, she's been offering 15 percent off massage, skin care, and nail appointments.
At Everyday Wine in Kerrytown, "people are trading down," says owner Mary Campbell: customers who used to spend $20 or $25 are asking for a $12 bottle instead. At Ellsworth Liquor Shoppe, many people are buying "the cheaper brands," says owner Frank Soka, or buying less.