Heavenly Metal, ‘U’ alum’s unique gift shop, closes after 17 years
On June 30, Ann Arbor’s lifestyle and gift shop, Heavenly Metal, closed its doors after 17 years. Store owner Vicki Honeyman, a University of Michigan alum, has been in Ann Arbor since 1970.
After studying film at the University, she directed the Ann Arbor Film Festival for 15 years, but as the industry began to change, she left the festival and started her own store. While the store originally sold recycled artwork, Heavenly Metal began to sell footwear, clothing, purses, scarves, books, scarves, wood and other art over time.
Honeyman said she handpicks everything in the store.
“It was my store, so I was the curator, the merchandiser, the buyer,” Honeyman said. “I got to do everything. It was unique because of my taste and my design style, and the items that I brought in were different from other stores in town.”
Honeyman credits the country’s increased interest in online shopping for a recent drop in sales at her store, which does not have an online presence. Honeyman said large online stores such as Amazon make it difficult for a small business such as Heavenly Metal to find success.
“Almost 18 years later, things changed dramatically in the retail industry,” Honeyman said. “It’s no longer the industry that it used to be because of the online shopping market and people’s changed habits in shopping.”
For Honeyman, this eventually meant her business was forced to close its doors.
“I came to the realization that my business wasn’t succeeding, it wasn’t growing, so it was time for me to call it quits,” Honeyman said.
Honeyman said Heavenly Metal had a community of loyal customers and their commitment to the store made her decision to close difficult.
“I feel bad,” Honeyman said. “I feel like I let a lot of people down by closing the store because it was very special.”
Valentina Garrido was introduced to Vicky Honeyman and the store in 2005 when she was living in Ann Arbor as an exchange student. Garrido told The Daily she has been keeping up-to-date with Honeyman and the store ever since through social media.
“I loved the uniqueness of Heavenly Metal,” Garrido said. “How everything was chosen with detail and care, and how you could always find something special.”
Silvia Dykstra worked at Heavenly Metal as the social media coordinator and photographer for nearly six months before it closed. She said she is certain Honeyman’s leadership will be Heavenly Metal’s most missed commodity.
“I am definitely going to miss Vicki,” Dykstra said. “If you ask anyone, they’re all going to say the same thing: She is what made the store so amazing. She is so talented.”
Garrido agreed with Dykstra, saying Honeyman was what made the store so special.
“I will miss the feeling of going home every time I went to the store and how welcomed I felt there,” Garrido said. “Vicki did an amazing job creating a space that was not only a store, but a reunion space.”
Though Heavenly Metal is closing, Honeyman said she will continue cutting hair from her home, a service which she once offered in-store. Honeyman said she is still in communication with her shoppers and clients in store, and the relationships she formed through her store will be one of the things she will miss most.
“Everybody who walked in the door, I would greet,” Honeyman said. “I really thrived with the relationships I had with my shoppers, and I definitely developed friendships.”