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Posted on Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 12:29 p.m.

Acme Mercantile to close downtown Ann Arbor store after a decade amid online shift

By Lizzy Alfs

After 10 years of running her quirky store on West Liberty Street in downtown Ann Arbor, Acme Mercantile owner Nina Juergens is refocusing her business.

That includes closing the store at 111 W. Liberty St., revamping her online business and creating more Acme-branded products.


Nina Juergens is closing Acme Mercantile at 111 W. Liberty St. in downtown Ann Arbor.

Lizzy Alfs |

Juergens, who announced plans to close her storefront on her blog on Sunday, told the move is an exciting one: it will allow her to design more products while running the online store out of her home. And she might even be able to take a couple days off.

“I was really bogged down with the day-to-day of keeping the store open and managing it,” she said. “The timing was perfect; my lease was up. I don’t want to spend every day worrying about work.”

Juergens opened Acme in November 2002, calling it the “world’s smallest department store” at 900 square feet. She sold a variety of convenience items for downtown shoppers, from pet supplies to hardware and office items.

Over time, Juergens’ inventory transitioned to focus on more gift-type items and novelties. She also makes Acme-branded products with their own labels.

“I like making my own product,” she said. “I want to expand that and I never had the time. I have these ideas and prototypes and I was never able to get the time to start producing them…one of the items I’ve been working on is a line of purses…as well as a line of body care products.”

The online store is currently undergoing a “complete overhaul,” Juergens said, and she expects it to launch in the next week or so. She said it will carry fewer low cost items, such as candy and magnets, and focus on higher-end items and unusual novelties.

The goal is to close the West Liberty Street storefront at the end of June. The building, which was originally built in 1888, is registered to Joseph Arcure & Co. out of New Mexico.

During the transition, inventory at Acme is 20 percent off.

Juergens also owns Salon Vertigo on South Fourth Avenue, which she originally began operating on Main Street in 1994. It moved to 212 S. Fourth Ave. six months after she opened Acme.

With the Acme storefront closing, Juergens said she will still sell some of its most popular items at the salon and is bringing an Acme employee over to run the front desk and retail section. She’ll also appear at events around town and might host the occasional pop-up shop.

“There will still be the opportunity to shop Acme in person,” she said. “I never wanted to give up on Acme because it’s so much fun and I love it so much. This is the perfect way I can keep it percolated until I figure out the next thing I want to do with it.”

After 10 years of operating the brick-and-mortar store, Juergens said there is one thing she’ll miss the most: her loyal customers.

“That’s a great thing about a store like that: it’s small and we’ve built great relationships with people,” she said. “I think that’s probably the thing I take away from this as the best thing that happened.”

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at



Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 1:24 a.m.

What a bummer! Best stocking stuffer store ever!


Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 11:33 p.m.

Here comes anouther expensive restraunt with mediocre food.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 1:47 a.m.

Not big enough. This is a really small space. It was a clever store with a changing array of merchandise. However, it has the potential to do well on-line as well. I appreciated the store and supported it with my purchases.


Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 9:20 p.m.

Interesting article in the NYT on Sunday about small mom-and-pop business that survive in SoHo. They are all "lifestyle" merchandisers -- not in it to maximize their income (or they'd sell out to Ralph Lauren), but because they like the life. Anyone who really wants to make money or who has something better to do (like Juergens, apparently), moves on. Sad, but the same all over the country.


Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 8:57 p.m.

How are we going to know where to shop online?????


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 10:45 a.m.

Link is in the article...


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 9:53 a.m.

Let me Google that for you:


Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 8:55 p.m.

I missed Acme when I moved away four years ago, but I loved the store. I still have some clocks, fun gadgets and my favorite cowboy bag I used to carry my lunch in got many comments through the years. I still have my red polka dot broom too! Online shopping is fine with me!


Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 8:02 p.m.

Sorry to see ACME leave... Let's remember to support the other independent businesses that are still hanging on! Peaceable Kingdom, Falling Water, Selo Shevel, Vault of Midnight, and Crazy Wisdom are a few Ann Arbor landmarks still standing that have fantastic inventory and are eager to please their customers. Buy local or bye-bye local!


Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 7:33 p.m.

Bummer, it was one of the few places that you could wander in to with your kids (or on your own) while waiting around for dinner.


Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 7:26 p.m.

One of my favorite downtown stores. It will be missed.


Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 7:11 p.m.

Bummer... I always stop into Acme Mercantile to get quirky gifts for all my friends on their birthday.


Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 7:06 p.m.

My last minute gift-shopping is going to be immensely more difficult now...


Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 6:51 p.m.

I dont suppose i'd be considered a 'loyal' customer, but of the 5 or 6 times i stopped in to acme, i bought something i still own, disply and receive compliments on. Most notable-- a forks and spoon chrome kitchen wall clock. It's been through several moves with me and visitors ALWAYS comment on its coolness. And i ALWAYS reply "Acme on Liberty."

Woman in Ypsilanti

Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 6:43 p.m.

This is one of those situations where even though I wasn't a regular, I still really enjoyed having this store around the two or three times a year I would shop there. They always had some of the coolest gifts that is for sure.

Alan Benard

Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 6:27 p.m.

Square footage is too dear downtown. Why doesn't the DDA work on that, rather than laundering the parking money for the city budget?

Madeleine Borthwick

Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 6:09 p.m.

So sad. another decent businessperson who got tired of making her landlord rich.


Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 5:49 p.m.

Thank you for many years of fun shopping, Nina! I wish you much success with your future endeavors!


Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 5:11 p.m.

Where will Wil E. Coyote purchase his dynamite?

Madeleine Borthwick

Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 12:07 a.m.

smokeblwr, I agree w/robo. Mr. Coyote is very intelligent and can easily navigate the "sturm and drang" of online buying!


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 12:03 p.m.



Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 7:53 p.m.

THAT is funny!


Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 4:47 p.m.

Fun store, not sure how it lasted this long as I rarely saw anyone in there.


Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 9:43 p.m.

Every time I was there it was packed with people. I will miss Acme very much.

Dexter Bear

Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 5:13 p.m.

Bodies don't equal sales... Loyal customers do, and most stores have enough of those to pay the bills, even if it doesn't look like a mosh pit to those on the outside.


Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 4:42 p.m.

So sad! We were just playing with our Mr. T. key chain the other night....push a button and you hear one of his famous lines.


Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 4:41 p.m.

another retail store downtown leaving due to high rent. you need to sell a lot of $4 novelities to cover your expenses downtown. I'm surprised they lasted 10 years, cute shop but always wondered how they were paying all their bills.

The Picker

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 2:43 a.m.

Why do you say that ? She says she's excited and wants to do other things. As simple as that. I didn't see anything about her disatisfaction with her lease arrangement. Sometimes the idea of running a business is much different than the reality of the hassles of the new age. After a while you just want to do something else.