Yarn and futon stores close
Farewell to Flying Sheep & Dragon's Lair
by Sally Mitani
Liz Zimmerman posted a note at her Flying Sheep Yarns shop saying "I'm sorry to say I have to close the shop. I'll be here until March 31st at least and I can be reached by email." But she didn't respond to our email.
Flying Sheep was one of three shops in Ann Arbor specifically dedicated to knitting (Knit A Round on Plymouth and Busy Hands on Main are the others). Of the three, the little shop on South Industrial was the least expensive. Perhaps that was the problem, speculates Esther Heitler, who teaches knitting locally: "The discount places, I'm sure, cut into her business-places like Jo-Ann's [Fabrics]. She had yarn that was accessible, like [the brand] Encore. I sent my students there, because for beginners you want to have yarn that's not too expensive for a first project."
As noted last month, Dream On Futon on Ashley was scheduled to close at the end of April. Now Dragon's Lair has announced it will leave its building on Liberty near Stadium at the end of May.
Sandy Cadotte-Keys and Robert Keys started out in Kerrytown in 1984, and they claim theirs is the oldest futon store in the United States. They did well enough for a while to buy their own building, the former Leslie Office Supply on West Liberty. But, says Sandy, "we haven't made a profit since 9/11. Since then it's been more debt, more debt, more debt."
And lately it's been particularly grim. "We lost our less wealthy people when gas prices went up last year, but then after the Wall Street bailout, it's like, pull the shades. The rich people quit buying too," she says. "No one's doing great in the furniture business these days. The people that are actually doing OK in the furniture business are the ones where grandpa had everything all paid for two generations ago."
They aren't in that category. Cadotte-Keys says they're a little ambivalent about retiring, but "at some point
you have to be practical. My dad and my husband's dad died in their sixties. Well, we're in our sixties, and we're going like, 'Dang! Time to let go and have a little fun.'"
For futon fans, the silver lining is that closing sales make this a darn good time to buy a futon. And for fans of the tiny Tienda la Libertad/Liberty Market a few doors down, there's another silver lining: Tienda owners Alain Benighil and Beth Langenderfer have bought the Dragon's Lair building. They plan to move across the driveway in June with an expanded grocery section and possibly a few new services yet to be determined.
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[Originally published in May, 2009.]