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Ted Barron with sister Pam Cripe, grandson Jack, daughter-in-law Amanda, and son Josh

The Evolution of Esquire Interiors

Wanda Barron's drapery business led the way.

by Sabine Bickford

From the April, 2018 issue

"We really do want a one-stop shop of all things interior and furniture," says Josh Barron of the new Esquire Interiors. It's only a few buildings down from the previous location on Jackson Rd. west of Zeeb, but now owned instead of rented, and it's bigger.

The new store, an expansion of a former warehouse, is providing some much-needed room for Esquire's increasingly diverse offerings. Josh's wife, Amanda, says their goal is to make customers "feel comfortable, like you can picture some of these things in your home."

Starting with just window treatments, Esquire has grown over the years to offer flooring, cabinetry, countertops, furniture, reupholstery services, bedding, and wallpaper. The last section of the building (still under construction) will display a new array of custom closet options.

The family business has never been confined to any one type of merchandise. In 1952, Josh's grandfather, Norm Barron, ran a dry cleaning service in Ypsilanti, but his grandmother Wanda's side custom drapery business soon became the main one as wash-and-wear fabrics began flooding the market.

Alongside the drapes, the Barrons sold "rain lamps," with a statuette base surrounded by vertical fishing lines running with drops of mineral oil to create a rain-like effect. "There's a bunch of them in our attic still," Josh says.

Josh's father, Ted, renamed the business Esquire Interiors and expanded into other forms of window treatments, then flooring and more. "The building that we were in was like four different units," says Josh. "As one tenant would leave, Ted would say 'Oh, I'll take that,' and added on kitchen and bath and flooring. Then, when Hicks Dry Cleaners left, we thought 'Well what's gonna complete the circle here?'" The answer was furniture.

The Barrons became a retailer of Norwalk furniture, an Ohio high-end custom furniture and upholstery supplier, around five years ago. Ted also opened a smaller satellite location in Plymouth in 2014.

Now, Ted and Josh run the business together, and neither shows any sign

...continued below...

of slowing down. Josh tells us that Ted is hoping to open a third location in the Brighton area. Meanwhile, Josh and Amanda are working on a grand opening sale at the Ann Arbor store throughout the month of May.

A newly built section off the main building serves as a showroom for a large selection of sofas and chairs and swatches of their various upholsteries. The room also acts as a demonstration for some of Esquire's newest technology. On Josh's spoken command, Alexa, Amazon's "virtual assistant," lowers the shades on a row of windows in unison. He was even able to control the shades from his phone while on vacation in Florida.

Another room provides a cycle of lighting changes so that customers can see what fabrics and wallpapers will look like in their own homes.

The mascot of Esquire is undoubtedly Josh and Amanda's dog, Charlie, who runs around the hardwood floors excitedly with an old tennis ball. The Barrons call her an "unofficial babysitter" for parents whose kids might otherwise find shopping boring. "Certain weekends we'll know it's gonna be busy, and we'll just drop her off here," says Amanda. "We won't even be working. She'll just be the entertainment committee! Parents love it."

Esquire Interiors, 6235 Jackson Rd. 663-7011. Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sun. noon-4 p.m.     (end of article)

[Originally published in April, 2018.]


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