What's in a Name?
Birmingham style across from Google
by Sally Mitani
Around here, maple means those flame-colored trees that line our older residential streets, but over Birmingham way, Maple is another name for Fifteen Mile Road, and it's associated with a certain preppie-slacker chic. "What represents you the most? It's where you're from," says Brad Friedman of Maple, the store he and his friend Brandon Schram just opened on East Liberty in the former Kim's Martial Arts (see below for what happened to Kim's). "We grew up on Maple. Maple Woods, Maple Creek, we went to Maple Elementary."
Maple is also one of Birmingham's main retail streets, and Friedman and Schram opened a store there, too, several months ago. They're trying to develop Maple as a brand name.
Maple's small selection of men's clothing and accessories are for a certain type of business professional who is "laid-back, enjoys life, wants to be comfortable and look good without being too trendy," Friedman says. The suggested accessories for their loosely woven shirts and cargo pants, also sold in the small store, are skateboards, headphones, man purses, and waterproof Swim-brand shoes--"you can walk in and out of the pool in them." Friedman admits the store's proximity to the offices of Google and Barracuda (moving into the old Borders office space this fall) is entirely intentional.
Friedman, in his mid-twenties, has spent the last several years in design and marketing for Marley Beverages ("the anti-Red Bull," he calls it), while Schram worked for its sister company, the eco-friendly House of Marley. (Both Marley companies are based in Commerce Township and are loosely affiliated with the foundation OneLove.org, run by Bob Marley's family.) Last year, the two friends decided that they needed their own retail operation.
Friedman calls the Ann Arbor Maple store a pop-up--it's on a three-month lease. He isn't entirely sure where either Maple store is headed. "We thought we'd start off as a clothing store and begin integrating other things. It could turn into a coffeeshop with retail. There are some very cool concepts we want to play around with, but this is a good stepping-stone."
Maple, 406 E. Liberty (no phone).
Daily 10 a.m.-9 p.m. thatsmaple.com
[Originally published in October, 2012.]