Brenda Brown’s Annex of Paredown is in what she calls “the strip behind Mallek’s,” which is as good an identifier as any–the small shopping center doesn’t seem to have a name. Open for a year and a half now, Annex still looks like a high-class estate sale enlivened with eccentricities (it’s the kind of place you might expect to encounter a stuffed parrot) and with occasional stacks of new hardware. Now she is also branching into DIY. Hers is the first store in Ann Arbor to sell chalk paint, a “decorative” paint, meaning it’s intended for furniture and small projects, rather than walls. “There are a couple of other places in town that sell what they call milk paint or ‘chalk-like’ paint,” but, in a word, they’re impostors. This is the real deal: Annie Sloan Chalk Paint(R), that register mark meaning no one else is supposed to even put the word chalk next to the word paint, but it’s a nicety not always observed. It’s “the paint we painted with for hundreds of years, made of limestone and talc,” Brown says, and it comes in thirty-two gentle vintage colors. She also sells yardage of Annie Sloan fabrics–upholstery-width cottons and linens–to go with them. Her website lists classes that teach you how to apply the paint. Though so safe and nontoxic you can probably eat it, it’s not the most intuitive product.
Annex of Paredown, 1608 Jackson Ave., 834-9024. Summer hours: Wed. 2-7 p.m., Thurs. & Fri. 10 p.m.-7 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Closed Sun.-Tues. annexofparedown.com