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New clothing shop planned for Nickels Arcade

By Hillary Crawford, Daily Staff Reporter
Published May 14, 2014

The historic Nickels Arcade is adding one more shop to its collection.

Mix, a women’s clothier, is slated to open next month.

The clothing outfit has roots in Ypsilanti, where it first opened in 2009. After finding success at their first location, owners Bonnie Penet and Leslie Leland decided to expand their shop with a second store.

Mix will inhabit the end of the arcade closest to Maynard Street in the space formerly occupied by Beagle Brain Computer Repair. The owners are in talks with contractors to secure an opening date, but hope to open their doors sometime around June 1.

Penet said she would describe the clothing inventory as “artistically chic,” with special emphasis on “show-stopping” pieces.

The Ann Arbor space is one-third the size of the Ypsilanti location, so its selection will be smaller. The Nickels Arcade location will feature the same clothing lines, but will only sell new clothing and accessories, whereas the original location sells second-hand items as well.

Since the Ypsilanti store launched, Penet and Leland have paid special attention to the tastes and desires of their customers — a target audience comprised mainly of women forty and older.

Initially, the first store solely featured gently used items, varying from vintage housewares and furniture to gifts and art pieces. Eventually, Penet and Leland brought in select collections of new clothing and accessories. When the newer merchandise began selling “out of the box,” the gently used items became a secondary aspect of the business model.

“We do have a niche market of that targeted audience with women who like to look really great — ‘turn heads’ we say — and also be comfortable,” Penet said. “So far, we’ve found a great audience for those qualities.”

The Ypsilanti store’s customers, many of which come from Ann Arbor and are affiliated with the University, inspired the owners’ decision to expand closer to campus. Penet also said she hopes the store benefits from traffic generated by the array of restaurants in the State Street area.

“We know that there will be a lot of foot traffic there, which is great, and we love the location itself,” Penet said. “The historic nature of Nickels Arcade is so beautiful.”

Penet and Leland are active in the Downtown Association of Ypsilanti, a merchant association. She said it would be natural to look into participating in similar associations in Ann Arbor, such as the State Street Association.

Rich Bellas, former co-owner of the Van Boven shoe store inside Nickel’s Arcade and president of the State Street Area Association, said he is looking forward to welcoming the new store.

He said Mix would fit nicely into the Nickels Arcade neighborhood, while contributing additional variety to the existing shopping options.

Bellas also noted that the association has been pleased with the street life sparked by recently opened restaurants on nearby East Liberty Street, such as the Slurping Turtle. He said he is especially happy to see non-restaurant spaces filling as well.