Fifty Years at Bivouac
Last year was the toughest.
by Ed Davidson
Published in October, 2021
On October 9th, I am celebrating my 50th year of business in Ann Arbor. I will semi-retired and my son AJ will be running the operation. I will still be involved and will continue to be on the sales floor. I still enjoy waiting on customers, many of whom have been shopping with us for decades.
The store began selling army surplus in 1971 during the Viet-Nam war. Ironically, army surplus was the preferred dress style on campus. I was also selling used jeans for $5. My hair was long and the merchandise was used. As the war was ending, used clothing gave way to new and hair got shorter. Now jeans are manufactured to look and feel worn--at 10 to 20 times the price.
My first store was in an apartment above Campus Bike and Toy on William Street. I lived in the store. At close, a mattress came out of the closet. I have heard many stories of merchants who lived above the store--not in.
One of my early customers was Joseph Brodsky, the Russian poet who was expelled from Russia. I was one of his first stops in Ann Arbor--he wanted to fit in and bought an army field jacket. He became a frequent visitor
I have learned in the past 50 years to pivot with the times. I have been thru recessions and warm winters (we sell a lot of winter coats when it's cold or snowy). But the toughest year of all was last year. Luckily, my son had developed an online store presence and we were able to offer curbside pickup and delivery.
The best advice I was given when I started was "the best fertilizer is a farmers feet." I spent a lot of time at the store.
I did my best for the community and my customers. I am very thankful for their support.
On October 9th please come celebrate with us at the store. There will be free raffle prizes all day long and we are donating 10% of our sales to the Huron River Watershed Council.
336 S. State St
[Originally published in October, 2021.]
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