No matter if you’re religious or not, there’s no telling when the need for a Jesus action figure might strike.
Whether you’re looking for a diverse assortment of gifts, furnishings, stationary, jewelry or grown-up toys, Middle Earth has you covered. Located on South University Avenue across the street from Pinball Pete’s Arcade, Middle Earth has been selling its wide assortment of fun and kitschy wares since 1967.
Middle Earth is above all a charming place to shop.
“There’s an eclectic feel to things here, and I think people like that a lot,” said Jessica Gordon, the store’s manager.
The bright colors, assorted textures, soft music tinkling from the speakers and the faint aroma of sandalwood wafting through the store make shopping at Middle Earth a pleasant, comfortable experience.
Abby Hyatt, who also works at Middle Earth, added “We sell stuff you need that you didn’t know you needed.”
The best thing about Middle Earth’s merchandise is its variety. Handcrafted rings and necklaces, purses, soaps and lotions, kitchen and home gear, books, gag gifts and candy are all stock elements.
Neither Gordon nor Hyatt are Michigan students. Though only one student works there now, at one time quite a few University students were employed at Middle Earth. “All of the students we used to have working for us had to quit because they were all taking 18 credits.” Not to say that Middle Earth doesn’t cater to and understand its student patrons; one step inside the glass double doors and it feels as if you’ve walked into the center of your own head.
There are many interesting things to browse. If you’re gift shopping, Middle Earth sells necklaces and dishes for Mom, a cigarette-dispensing elephant gag for Dad and Andy Warhol-inspired address books for your friends.
Though the store is chock full of grizzly bear-shaped salt and pepper shakers, sticks of fragrant incense and books on subjects ranging from nasty insult dictionaries to the visual history of the coat hanger, Middle Earth also sells a fair amount of greeting cards, stationary and gift-wrapping supplies.
In the midst of a plummeting presidential approval rating, Gordon said that “(the store) sells a lot of anti-Bush items, too.” In this regard, it might be easy to write Middle Earth off as a hip hippie outlet, or a place that caters to the liberal portion of the University’s campus, but that assumption would be grossly unfair.
Above all, Middle Earth has a sense of humor. Notebooks emblazoned with “Happy Fucking Birthday” printed on their wrappers sit on display in the store’s candy area. Bottles of moisturizer called “Bitch” lotion line shelves. Middle Earth would certainly not hesitate to sell merchandise that lampooned any political figure, whether the victim was a Democrat or a Republican. It’s satire that they love, not politics.
If you’re not already enraptured with Middle Earth, stop by before the end of the semester and check them out. It’s nearly impossibly to go into the store without spying something you absolutely love for yourself or for friends and family members. Monday through Saturday, Middle Earth is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. In the summer months their hours extend from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.