White Market Closes
Dave Jones looks for work
by Sally Mitani
It wasn't much of a surprise when White Market closed. The little grocery near the Diag had been on a monthly lease since Uptown Coney Island owner Gus Boutsikakis bought the building last summer. Dave Jones says his store will be replaced by a sub shop, and the other half of the building, the former College Shoe Repair, will be a pizza place.
Running a conventional small grocery store--no wine or liquor, no sexy local or organic connections--has been tough, and when CVS opened on State, Jones says he immediately took a 20 percent hit. CVS proved to be a deadlier competitor than 7Eleven or the Tower Mini Mart (the short-lived tiny market under Tower Plaza that suddenly vanished this spring). "CVS was beating us on snack food, cleaning supplies, and ice cream. They were giving away their ice cream, but I couldn't understand why they were beating us on cleaning products," Jones says.
Convinced the area still could support a smaller, more selective grocery store, Jones tried to lease something smaller, but says, "It's unbelievable what they're asking around here. Our rent used to be geared to what they were getting on Main Street. Now Main Street is decidedly cheaper than here--a third less." So now, for the first time in his life, he's looking for work. His dad, who managed the Food & Drug Mart (a similar beloved neighborhood grocery on the corner of Stadium and Packard), got Dave his first job there when he was fourteen. He worked there for twenty years, before buying White Market with his wife, Darlene.
While most people thought of White Market as a neighborhood grocery serving students, it was also the last grocery in town that delivered, and his delivery customers, mainly elderly and disabled, lived all over Ann Arbor.
[Originally published in September, 2012.]