Neon colored tags indicated 50 percent off sales as part of a price slashing promotion that packed Orchid Lane with shoppers this past holiday weekend.
Many local businesses, including Orchid Lane on East Liberty Street, experienced strong sales last weekend as shoppers flooded the stores to start their holiday shopping.
Leif Elias, co-owner of Orchid Lane, said sales on Black Friday were up approximately 20 percent from the same day last year. She added that she thinks one of the main factors that drew in customers was the pleasant weather.
“It was 60 degrees (and) sunny,” Elias said. “It was definitely the kind of day you’d want to be out and about. Being downtown, the weather affects a lot of our business.”
Elias admitted that the sales on clothing were “a big motivator” that drew crowds over the weekend. The shop specializes in one-of-a-kind clothing and accessories.
Elias added that she has been extremely happy with the support of the local community.
“I hope Ann Arborites continue to support small businesses downtown, especially during the holiday season,” Elias said.
She said it is too soon to know how the closings of Borders, Poshh and This & That — which were all on East Liberty — will impact her business. As of now, Elias said she is “crossing (her) fingers” that the recent closings will not negatively affect Orchid Lane.
“It really remains to be seen how that’s going to affect us,” she said.
Similarly, Rhonda Gilpin, owner of The Caravan Shop in Nickels Arcade and The Arcadian Antiques Boutique on Main Street, said it is too soon to observe the effects of the recently closed stores on her businesses.
“It’s been such a short period of time that those (stores) have been gone,” Gilpin said. “I don’t think (the closings) have necessarily affected my business in a negative way.”
Gilpin added that it might be easier to observe the effects after the holiday season, which is always a busy time for her stores.
American Apparel, also on East Liberty Street directly across from the former Borders space, has not experienced a noticeable loss of business due to the storefront changes, according to Jacob Down, an in-store merchandiser at the retail chain. He said Black Friday was successful for the store, though the shop was not overwhelmingly packed.
“It was good; we made our goal,” Down said.
Down added that students, who make up the largest portion of American Apparel customers, were mostly out of town for the holiday, and their absence likely affected sales. While the store had a promotion in which consumers could buy one item and receive a second item at half-price, Down said many shoppers did not know about the sale when they came in. Still, the hype of Black Friday helped American Apparel’s profits.
“Having a shopping day makes people more willing to spend money,” Down said.
Down added that he doesn’t believe the East Liberty store closures have negatively impacted American Apparel sales because the store attracts different customers.
“It’s such a different dynamic of clientele that comes (into American Apparel),” Down said.
Down couldn’t speculate what kind of business would fill the void of Borders on East Liberty Street, but said he would “like something nice, local or something inspired to go into Borders.”
He added that the new Zaragon West leasing office that opened recently in the former This & That space is “one of the least thrilling things that could happen on Liberty Street.”