“It’s amazing exposure. It’s a stand-alone. It has a cute, unique, homey feel—a beautiful courtyard,” says Rhonda Gilpin. And the parking. Don’t even get her started on the parking: “There are six parking places on site and [free] two-hour parking around the corner on Davis.” To hear Gilpin tell it, this is where good retailers go when they die.
Nobody died, exactly, but Gilpin’s downtown Arcadian Too is moving from the Goodyear Building to the former Ann Arbor Framing at Main and Davis, where it will become Arcadian Antiques Boutique—because, she explains, “it will be smaller and have a more boutiquey feel.” Her target opening date is September 27.
The new place is just a few blocks from the stadium. “It’s unbelievable how much traffic goes by there,” Gilpin says. “If I make the twenty-seventh, I can catch three home games in a row. I’m already parking twenty cars there on football Saturdays.” Of course, she’s hoping to reap the real retail bonanza of football Saturdays: the bored-spouse traffic.
Gilpin is one of those people who seem to speak retail as if it were a language, and given her roots it’s not surprising. She literally grew up in Nickels Arcade, where her father, Tom Liechty, managed the Caravan Shop for family friend Jim Edwards (founding owner of Maison Edwards gift shop and of Maison Edwards Tobacconist, also in the arcade). Her mother, Linda, owned nearby Van Buren’s lingerie shop, which she had bought from Edwards. (Edwards, who died recently, sold Maison Edwards Tobacconist in the early 1990s to Chuck Ghawi; he closed the gift shop in 1998.) Gilpin says that while her family wasn’t in the business of selling antiques, her parents “had a lot of them. By the time I grew up, I was very astute about going to Detroit auction houses.” She opened the Arcadian antique shop in 1983, followed by Arcadian Too in 1992. In 1994 she bought the Caravan from Jim Edwards.
The new boutique will be smaller than Arcadian Too, but Gilpin will have an office in the adjoining house, which she now also owns. Though from the front the small, square retail building looks freestanding, it’s connected by landscaping and a courtyard to the house, and the two properties came as a package deal. Ann Arbor Framing closed this past spring; owner Lori Wintermeyer put them on the market as a result of her divorce.
Arcadian Antiques Boutique, 838 South Main, 994–8856. Tues.–Sat. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Closed Sun. & Mon.