Terry Thompson is used to getting up early—4 a.m. “I can’t help it,” says Thompson, sitting down for a break after cooking breakfast for a slew of other early birds at his new restaurant, the Downtown Diner, in the back of the Merchant Square Building in the heart of downtown Saline. Thompson hopes his early hours will set his establishment apart from those that didn’t make it in this space and from other nearby eateries. “We’re open at six a.m. on weekdays, eight in the morning on weekends, and it’s easy for me. I just live upstairs,” says Thompson. He cooks everything from scratch, using as many local vendors as possible, including buns from Benny’s Bakery, meat from Terry Trumbull in Whitmore Lake, and produce from the Saline Farmers’ Market.

Thompson is excited about his diner but also shares his distress about its one downside: missing the fall hunting season. “This’ll be the first fall in I don’t know how long that I won’t get to hunt. I’m always thinking about hunting,” stresses Thompson. He pauses, smiles, and adds, “Or cooking.”

For Thompson, hunting and cooking go hand in hand. He and his business partner, Mark Marsh, best friends since childhood, hunted white-tailed deer, first as kids with Marsh’s dad and then on their own. “Mark and I always talked about food and cooking on those hunting trips,” says Thompson. After high school, Thompson worked at a variety of restaurants locally, out west in Wyoming and Arizona, and in Baton Rouge, where he also took cooking classes—”Paul Prudhomme came to class once and taught us Cajun cooking.”

Meanwhile, Marsh went into the roofing business and later opened a construction company with his dad. He now owns A1 Home Exteriors in Pinckney. “Even before my dad died, he talked about opening a restaurant one day and having Terry cook,” Marsh recalls. Now the old friends are working together with Marsh as the financier and Thompson cooking and running the place. “But we’re partners,” Marsh emphasizes.

The Downtown Diner serves a variety of hearty breakfasts all day, including an array of omelets, French toast, and pancakes. The lunch menu offers five different salads, three different burgers, a steak sandwich, Tuscan chicken, barbecued brisket, grilled country ham, pulled pork, meat loaf, roast beef and more.

Two giant picture windows flood the restaurant with natural light. The decor is all maize and blue, honoring both the Saline Hornets and the Michigan Wolverines. Hornets are painted at the top of the ceiling above the cash register, and framed photographs of former University of Michigan football greats adorn one wall. The menu even features “Bo’s Fresh Pancakes.”

The Downtown Diner, 131 E. Michigan. 316–2343. Mon.–Fri. 6 a.m.–3 p.m., Sat. & Sun. 8 a.m.–4 p.m.

Steve Jensen planned to open Jensen’s Community Pharmacy in the Oaks Plaza shopping center in mid-November, making it the second independent pharmacy to open this year in Saline—Ziad Ghamraoui opened the Saline Pharmacy in June. “I support Ziad completely,” says Jensen, “There’s plenty to go around, and anyway, he’s not the enemy—CVS and Walmart are the true focus of competition.”

Jensen’s passion stems from his own frustration right in the thick of it, observing firsthand the growing disconnect between the training pharmacists get in their graduate programs and corporate expectations for pharmacists today.

“I had enough of the lick-and-stick, counting pills, fast-paced grind of pharmacy where I was,” Jensen explains. After completing the four-year University of Michigan pharmacy program, Jensen spent nine years as a Rite Aid pharmacist. “So much of our training was about the clinical aspects of pharmacology, counseling and talking to the patient,” says Jensen, but that kind of practice is compromised in the corporate world of overworked pharmacists in understaffed pharmacies. “And drive-through pharmacy is simply the worst idea,” he adds.

“I’ve wanted to go solo for a few years,” says Jensen, who lives in Dexter. He’ll stock standard first aid, foot, eye, and skin care products, and home health aids as well as bedside medical durable goods. “I’m also hoping to offer other made-in- Michigan products,” he says. He’ll have a private space in the back for immunizations, and all the equipment necessary for filling prescriptions as well as offering individualized compounded medicines, essential for people with allergies to certain standard binding agents or for people who have difficulty swallowing pills and need a liquid or suppository formula.

Jensen’s Community Pharmacy, 968 E. Michigan. 429–9053. Mon.–Fri. 9 a.m.–7 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Closed Sun.

Sandy McDowell used to volunteer at the Goodwill Industries store. That’s where she met fellow volunteers Gloria Shofstall, Sharon Hall, and Deb Snook. “Even while at Goodwill, I felt like there were still unmet needs in our community, especially at the very local level,” says McDowell, sitting with Shofstall and Snook in the break room of their new nonprofit, the Saline Community Thrift Store, open since the end of summer.

McDowell, Shofstall, and Snook, all volunteers, run the shop; Hall has another full-time job but does the website. “Our profits will go toward offering need-based scholarships for local kids who want to go to camp or play sports at school,” says McDowell—something that otherwise can be prohibitively expensive in the “pay to play” era. She and her co-workers will also work closely with Saline social services and donate clothes and household items for people in need.

Otherwise, everything is priced to sell. Men and women’s clothing are $3 per piece, kids’ items are $2 each, toddlers’ stuff is $1.50 an item, and baby clothes are just $1 apiece—though “if it’s a namebrand item, with tags and never worn, we might mark it up a dollar or two,” says McDowell, a smile lighting up her bright blue eyes. Asked what their priciest item is, the three women look around before Snook points to a sixteen-piece leaded crystal glassware set on sale for $27.

Besides neatly hung clothes and kitchenware, the store also sells small appliances, lamps, books, CDs, DVDs, jewelry, and craft and decorating items. “We have another 1,700 square feet in the back for donations and storage. I just hope people can find us,” laughs McDowell. It’s a little tricky: the shop is located in one of the retro funky warehouses tucked behind the BP west of town near Austin Road.

Saline Community Thrift Store, 789 W. Michigan. 470–6698. Mon.–Fri. 9 a.m.–6 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Closed Sun.

Michigan Avenue in Saline now boasts five options for the avid resale, thrift, or consignment shopper; three opened in just the past two months. Following Nu2U (Fall Community Observer), and the Saline Community Thrift Store (above), Reincarnations Resale was slated to open in the Merchant Square Building at the end of October. Owner Michele Ingalls has sold antiques and vintage items on eBay for years, and decided to take the plunge and open her own storefront now that both her young children are in school.

Ingalls isn’t worried about the fact that her store is right next door to Jamie Westcott’s Resale Boutique. “We’ll complement each other,” she says. Westcott concurs, saying, “It’s great for the downtown community.” The Resale Boutique features contemporary women’s clothing, shoes, and accessories, while Reincarnations Resale will sell things like antique furniture, lamps and lighting, glass and pottery, china, and linens, as well as other household items and vintage clothing.

Ingalls invites customers to bring their children—she plans to have a kid zone with a table for doing homework as well as a television with cable so shoppers can take their time hunting for treasures while their kids are occupied. “My kids will probably be there now and then,” she adds. “My daughter says she’s the manager of jewelry. My son is the manager of everything else,” she jokes.

Floor-to-ceiling picture windows flank the front and back of the space, and Ingalls is giddy about a twelve-foot oak sales counter she found. Initially, she’ll fill the space with items she’s carefully collected over the years from eBay, estate sales, and auctions. Inventory will grow as her consignor list grows.

Reincarnations Resale, 109 E. Michigan. 470–6480. Tue. & Wed. 11 a.m.–6 p.m., Thurs. 11 a.m.–7 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Closed Sun. & Mon. reincarnationsresale.com



CC Sweet House closed its downtown Saline storefront over the summer, but owner Edgar Burch, reached by phone, says he hopes to open soon at a new location.

Little Caesars Pizza in the heart of downtown Saline closed abruptly in mid-October. “We plan to serve our Saline area customers in the future,” says Kathryn Oldham, the company’s director of communications. “Meanwhile, we’re working through issues with the franchisee.”