I was walking home from the Michigan baseball game at 5:45 p.m. last Friday when I saw the line on the corner of State and Packard. After its estimated opening date had been pushed back several times, Packard Pub was finally set to open at 6 p.m. that day. And hundreds of people, almost all male, had decided that they needed to be there when that happened.

Intrigued, two of my friends and I joined the line, which at that point stretched all the way to Mary Street. Once inside, we learned the Friday drink specials weren’t great and neither was the spinach-and-cheese dip. But Ann Arbor has needed a bar on that corner for a long time. And it’s a smart move for Packard Pub to fill that void — with the next closest bar blocks away, Packard Pub will probably develop a base of loyal customers who live down the street and don’t want to walk to Ashley’s or Buffalo Wild Wings.

But even with the recent wave of store openings in Ann Arbor, it feels like nothing is unique anymore. South University, which used to have a pretty eclectic mix of stores, is now overrun with bubble tea and Asian cuisine. The State Street area has seen an increase in chain food stores (like Chipotle and Panera) even when there are multiple local restaurants in the city that serve the same type of food (like Big Ten Burrito and Amer’s). It made me think about what Ann Arbor really needs. And naturally, being a business major, I found myself conducting a mini, impromptu focus group on what students think is missing near campus:

The CVS Pharmacy that’s been talked about for months. The idea of placing a CVS smack in the middle of the State Street historic district has long offended Ann Arbor traditionalists, who are upset that the 209-211 State Street building would need to be demolished for the pharmacy to become a reality. To make it worse, bringing another national chain to State Street would further diminish the charm and quirkiness of downtown Ann Arbor.

I understand all that, but the only local pharmacy currently near campus consistently disappoints. I believe in buying local, but I’ll make the five-minute drive to the CVS on South Industrial St. instead of spending $10 on nail clippers at the Village Apothecary every time. The price gouging is ridiculous. Students on a budget need a place where they can buy shampoo or cosmetics without spending as much as they would have on dinner. If a locally owned pharmacy can lower its prices, it would fit with Ann Arbor’s image much more than a CVS. But since the Village Apothecary has already proved it can’t do that, it’s time for CVS to step in.

A 24-hour diner in the South University area. With New York Pizza Depot and Mitch’s gone, the corner of South Forest and South University is now depressingly dark at night. And when the bars close, the only late-night options on the South U. bar strip are burritos or pizza. What better business to put in Mitch’s old spot than a diner?

The only 24-hour greasy spoon within walking distance is Fleetwood Diner — “walking distance” is a stretch, I know — and it’s on Ashley Street. Mr. Greek’s on State Street closes at 9:30 p.m. on weekend nights. A New Jersey-style diner on South University would be a perfect place for students to grab a cheese omelet and hash browns on the way to 9 a.m. class, whenever they feel like having breakfast for dinner, or after a long night at the UGLi or Rick’s.

A party supplies store. While throwing my roommate a surprise 21st birthday party last year, her sister and I tried to make the decorations as over-the-top as possible. But it wasn’t fun driving all the way home from Meijer with 21 pink and green balloons impairing my vision. And even though we would have looked silly walking through campus while holding bunches of balloons, we wished we had that option.

And I can’t count the number of times that I or one of my friends have needed just one more piece to complete a costume for a theme party — like a cowboy hat or Hawaiian lei — but didn’t know where in Ann Arbor to find it. A party store within walking distance of campus would be extremely popular during fall and winter Welcome Week, Halloween, ugly sweater holiday season and St. Patrick’s Day. And considering Ann Arbor’s popular Greek and house party scene, I’d be willing to bet the store would be busy almost every weekend. It’s true that a party store downtown isn’t a necessity, but it’d be a smart venture for someone looking to make money on a college campus.

In nearly all of my marketing classes here at the University, my professors have taught that an integral step in determining opportunities for growth and gaps in the current market is listening to consumers’ needs. Here’s what we want. Now, Ann Arbor, won’t you listen?

Courtney Ratkowiak was the Daily’s managing editor in 2009. She can be reached at cratkowi@umich.edu.

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