Ann Arbor’s 62-year-old grocery store, White Market, faces an uncertain future since the building that has served as home to the shop recently changed hands.
Dave Jones and his wife Darlene, owners of White Market for more than 27 years, confirmed last week the building has been sold. The Joneses said they have not yet decided if they will renew the lease for White Market, which expires at the end of this year.
“We’re not making any plans beyond that,” Dave Jones said.
He added that he met with the new building owner last week but still has not reached a decision regarding his business’s future.
“A lot depends upon what the new landlord says,” Jones said.
The 6,500-square-foot building on East William Street was also home to the historic College Shoe Repair shop before it closed its doors at the end of December after 70 years. On the second floor of the building are five apartments the new landlord plans to renovate, according to Brendan Cavender, who, with Jim Chaconas, handled the building sale for Colliers International.
Jones said the focus of White Market, which first opened in 1949, is to provide the freshest products to students.
“We know our customers, and we care about our customers,” Jones said. “They’re not just numbers or blips on a screen.”
Jones added that unlike the larger chain stores that opened recently on State Street, White Market offers fresh meat and produce.
“We sell a lot of fresh food. People think they’re getting that at 7-Eleven or CVS, but they don’t do anything in-house,” Jones said. “All CVS has (is) national buying power and a big ad.”
Cavender and Chaconas said they’re open to talking to Jones about renewing his lease but also noted there has been a lot of interest in the space. These include national establishments, food chains and smaller, local companies, according to Cavender.
The East William area also faces a changing business landscape with the construction of Zaragon West on 500 East William St. The new apartment complex, which Cavender said will open next fall, will house a retail business.
“William Street is the next hot market,” Cavender said.