You only have to have a slight familiarity with Ann Arbor’s Argus Farm Stop policy about local sourcing to know they take this cornerstone of their business model seriously. Both the Packard Street and original Liberty Street locations stock their shelves exclusively with the products of local Michigan farmers, bakers, coffee roasters, craftspeople–and the list goes on….
As a regular customer, I knew this. But still I could be surprised by the details…. That’s what happened in the first week of January. I happened to stop in at the Farm Stop on Liberty when co-founder Kathy Sample was making a late-afternoon dropoff of all the plush children’s toys she had just washed at home for a new year of toddler fun.
“It took me two loads, “she said while hoisting the laundry basket through the door. “And it looks like we’ve picked up a few that aren’t local.”
What? I asked if she meant locally manufactured toys? No, she was referring to local animals: little beanbag cows and chickens representing the source of the milk and eggs in in their coolers, and familiar Michigan critters like squirrels deer, blue jays, pink piggies and more. And she was noting that a few distinctly non-local penguins, jungle lions, and the like had joined the mix, probably left behind by toddlers and parents when playtime and coffee-sipping in the Argus greenhouse cafe stretched into hurried time for a quick departure.
In this picture, Kathy shows one of her favorite original Argus toys, the big owl at left, and an example at right of one of the distinctly “foreign” invaders in the toybox. Both are now freshly washed for play in the new year.