The Pineapple House Goes Virtual
After closing her Saline store, Joy Ely will sell online and at pop-up and vintage markets.
by Sheila Beachum Bilby
Published in April, 2020
For more than two decades, the Pineapple House has been the northeast anchor for Saline's four corners downtown, its signature "putting it all together beautifully" ethos always on full display in wide windows that showcased an ever-evolving array of home decor, gifts, and antiques.
In February, the windows were covered with shades and brown butcher paper plastered with closing sale signs. Owner Joy Ely expected to reopen on March 2 to start selling off the Pineapple House's considerable inventory, which includes many name brands.
Ely will continue to sell floral arrangements and home decor products through a redesigned website, social media, and pop-up or vintage markets. And she'll be concentrating more on her interior design business.
"I'm not calling it retirement," Ely, sixty-five, insists. "I'm not calling it going out of business, because the Pineapple House is not going away. It's just changing."
While shopping online has become the norm, the convenience does not match the delight of entering the awning-shaded front door of the Pineapple House to find elegant home decor tastefully displayed, the vanilla scent of house-brand candles perfuming the air, and Buddy, a small, friendly rescue dog, often on patrol.
Ely credits her mother, Janet Swope, with coining the name Pineapple House in 1983, when they started an antique business, concentrating initially on American antiques. In colonial America, the pineapple, often stenciled on front doors, was a symbol of hospitality and welcome.
In 1992, they bought the corner building at 101 E. Michigan Avenue and renovated it. Four years later, Ely bought her mother out and "reinvented the business" by focusing on residential interior design, later adding home decor and gifts, much of it seasonal.
"Everything we bought," Ely says, "we bought with a designer's eye for functionality and use in the home."
Ely says she will keep the name Pineapple House, which has a deep reservoir of brand awareness after thirty-seven years. She looks forward to more free time, including volunteer work as treasurer of Saline Main Street, and mapping the interior design for a new house she and her husband, Ron, are going to build in Saline this year.
She's not sure yet what the future holds for 101 E. Michigan, a 2,500-square-foot space with an equal amount of footage in its basement.
"We will make an announcement when we make a decision," Ely says, "but our options, of course, are to either rent it or to sell it. We will start exploring that soon."
[Originally published in April, 2020.]
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