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Posted on Mon, May 28, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

After almost 40 years in Ann Arbor, Georgetown Gifts prepares for final farewell

By Angela Smith

Laurie Wicks speaks with a happy nostalgia as she explains that she is closing her Ann Arbor gift store at the right time, before she starts to wake up in the morning and dread coming to work.

“It’s been a good run” said Wicks, who has run Georgetown Gifts for the last 15 years, “but it’s time for me to move from the fast lane to the middle lane.”

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Ann Arbor's Georgetown Gifts and Post Office substation will remain open through the last week of August.

Angela Smith for

Wicks says that running Georgetown Gifts and the Georgetown Post Office Substation has been a great value to the community, but also a lot of work.

“It really is two businesses… and a small business owner never gets to punch out and leave it at 6 o’clock.”

Wicks is emphatic, however, about the joy the business has brought her, along with the work. “I have really loved it, and I am going to miss my loyal customer base, and friends at the store. There is a real sense of community here.”

Wicks and her husband bought Georgetown Gifts 15 years ago when the shop was at Georgetown Mall on Packard. Prior to that, the shop was owned by Marilyn Harber, who opened it at that location in the 1970s, according to Wicks.

Five years ago, Georgetown Gifts moved out of the Georgetown Mall, when the mall was shut down in anticipation of redevelopment. The community around Packard Road is still waiting for redevelopment to begin. The building that remains, vandalized and uncared for, is an eyesore now, in Wicks’ mind.

Though Georgetown Mall is gone, Georgetown Gifts continued on after its move to the nearby Huron Village Shopping Plaza at Huron Parkway and Washtenaw Avenue. She joined Panera, Barnes and Noble and other national retailers.


Laura Blodgett | For

Wicks does not deny that the last couple of years have been challenging.

“Rent is expensive; I’m a little business with big boys around me. The (neighboring businesses) have been great, and it’s a very busy mall, which is good. But a small family business cannot necessarily afford big-box prices.”

“The gift industry has also changed. When is the last time you received a hand-written note?”

She notes that people will send a birthday text instead of a birthday card these days, and that a great deal of shopping has moved to online. But rather than try to adapt or fight it, Wicks took this as yet another signal to “bow out gracefully.”

The store has a staff of 10 part-time workers, many of which Wicks refers to as her “super seniors.”

“Some are looking forward to retiring, with me, and some will look to continue in a post office or retail setting, or something else.”

Wicks is still hopeful that a buyer might swoop in and take over the business, remarking that it is wonderful to be a part of the Ann Arbor business community. She calls the store price low, saying she is only looking to cover fixtures and inventory.

But if no buyer emerges by Aug. 31, she has a plan.

“The plan? A Laurie Wicks Retirement Extravaganza Sale!” she says with a laugh.

Markdowns began already, with 40 percent off garden items, and they'll continue throughout the summer, with plans for an indoor sidewalk sale and something special during Art Fair.

“Everything goes, and not to my garage!” she jokes. The shop is still purchasing “fill-in” items, including gift wrap, puzzles, state of Michigan items, and its best line, Vera Bradley.

Wicks will not use a liquidation company to manage the sale.

“I want to be there, and work with the customers.” She looks forward to having more time to devote to family and other interests, but plans to stay active in Ann Arbor, “but from the middle lane. I don’t think I’ll ever be a slow lane person, not even as a super senior!”

Angela Smith is a freelance writer for


Thinkin' it Over

Mon, May 28, 2012 : 9:58 p.m.

I'm surprised the store lasted so long. I never had a pleasant experience shopping in either store, although I kept thinking it was just a fluke over the years. I'd visit the store every once in a while thinking I must have been mistaken, but it was always the same. I learned to shop elsewhere. So long Georgetown Gifts! Remember to smile!


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 8:49 p.m.

These type of gift shops are a dying breed unfortunately. They've been around seemingly forever, but their demise has been steady over the last 20 years. The card business is greatly decreased from what it used to be and what there is of it is in grocery stores and discount stores like Target. Also, the gift market has dramatically changed in recent years. Electronics and gift cards are now given the most, with figurines and knick-knacks rarely bought anymore. I wish Laura the best of luck though and thanks for giving it a try in the new shopping center.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 8:27 p.m.

This store is a true treasure. Laurie and the staff do an excellent job and I gladly brave the parking and traffic to get to this store. One of those places where the staff actually cares. I will miss it when it is gone. Thank you, Laurie, and all the best to you and your staff as you move on.

Julia Mattucci-Clark

Mon, May 28, 2012 : 7:26 p.m.

We will miss you so much! Thank you for helping me buy gifts and cards all these years and for not freaking out when I would cry all the time after my Mom and Grandma died. Take good care!!!!


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 6:17 p.m.

and another one bites the dust.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 5:48 p.m.

Oh my gosh, Cinco -- I want to go when YOU go shopping there -- I have driven around the parking lot waiting for parking to open up for Whole Foods (thank goodness we got the new one on Eisenhower with plentiful parking), never go to that Panera since there is nowhere there to park (luckily we have others) and can sometimes find parking at the far ends of the lot for Barnes and Noble...and thats for EVERY visit there (with maybe an exception for Panera at 7 am in the morning)....


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 2:34 p.m.

Westgate parking is pretty bad for sure


Tue, May 29, 2012 : 2 a.m.

That's the thing - I never go to Whole Foods! But still, I can park in front of Panera without a problem. Just come with me when you need to go grocery shopping! I have far worse luck parking where I want to at Westgate....Well, in the Play it Again Sports, Sun n Snow Sports, AA Library, Nicola Books corner, anyway. Now that is bad parking.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 2:39 p.m.

They had a great location in Georgetown. It was a death knell by being placed in an area that was twice the rent and parking impossible. This was one great little gift shop for any thing fun to get someone. All I can say is the economy and the greed forced them into a really bad situation. They will be truly missed. Good luck to new adventures.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 2:24 p.m.

Nice store in the worst parking lot in A2. Small family run gift shops will struggle unless they are located in an area with a lot of foot traffic and offer something very unique at a reasonable price. Yes, the times are a changin'. Too bad the Georgetown mall and her old store have been left to deteriorate. I wish her well.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 2:41 p.m.

Along with Krogers, the pharmacy and the other shops that didn't want to move but were forced to. So sad.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 2:23 p.m.

A wonderful community store with lovely staff. Sorry to see the business go. I have patronized it in both locations for 28 years. Good luck to Laurie, a true community-minded, customer-service-oriented owner. I will miss the postal station too. It's always busy and a needed service in the area. Thanks for the good run!


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 1:55 p.m.

a lovely store, staff...and very convenient postal services. hope someone who'll continue the latter takes over...


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 1:33 p.m.

I think it's always good to end something when it's a choice, not because you have to. Georgetown Gifts is a great store with friendly staff. My husband always buys my birthday presents there, either a nice mug or a jigsaw puzzle. I use the post office extensively. I will miss Laurie's big smile and her warm welcomes. Good luck in the "middle lane" Laurie.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 12:28 p.m.

The store was a great asset to the Georgetown area when at the old mall. Good luck!


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 12:23 p.m.

It's been great to have the substation there. It is a nice, friendly store. Thanks, Laurie!


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 11:10 a.m.

I hope someone will consider buying the store. I love shopping there for special little gifts. They carry things big box stores do not have. Enjoy your retirement Laurie!


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 10:26 a.m.

I liked going to Georgetown Gifts. I have used the post office substation there many times. Although I don't much like the parking lot (not news) it was a nice gift store and will be missed.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 10:25 a.m.

Sounds like a nice shop. I wish her well. We've been back in A2 for 5 years and haven't been in that Plaza ever. We tend to avoid Washtenaw in general, although there are a few stores that we have been to. Too much traffic, too many lights, and in general Washtenaw is an eyesore.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 5:15 p.m.

It's so funny. I hear how bad the parking is there all the time and I seriously never have any difficulty with it at all. I go there all the time, to Georgetown Gifts, Panera, B&N, Walgreen's, and Qdoba. Never a problem parking close to where I want to go. Thanks Laurie for all the years of Georgetown Gifts. It has been so nice to have you, your staff, and your store in our community.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 5:13 p.m.

>> It's next to Barnes and Noble with the award-winning worst parking lot and in/out assessibility in Ann Arbor << It's worth recalling that the developer wanted more parking, but the AA Planning Commission cut back the planned parking. That's the opposite of what happened with Showcase theaters in Pittsfield Twp. (SE of Ellsworth and Carpenter) two decades or so back -- the then Planning Planning Commission required that vast stretch of parking, a large share of which is never used.

J. Zarman

Mon, May 28, 2012 : 5:05 p.m.

It's that kind of a view that puts local small business owners out of business. I will take my open-minded attitude and my dollars to locally owned businesses, and give them a chance -- even if they are on a busy street, or near an eyesore.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 3:07 p.m.

Ooops sorry...I missed that it had moved.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 2:19 p.m.

Sorry tdw, not tide! Ridiculous iPhone autocorrect.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 2:17 p.m.

Tide, no its not on Packard. It's next to Barnes and Noble with the award-winning worst parking lot and in/out assessibility in Ann Arbor


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 1:48 p.m.

Uh...the store is on Packard isn't it ? If you avoid Packard or Washtenaw in A2 or Ypsi you must take a lot of side streets


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 12:33 p.m.

So there's a place in town to shop that doesn't have traffic and lights? Where would that be?


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 10:22 a.m.

"vandalled and uncared for". I hate when things are vandalled...


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 2:20 p.m.

Go back up and read a little more carefully -- vandalized is a perfectly good word (unless it was corrected in response to your comment, in which case, THANKS).

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, May 28, 2012 : 12:51 p.m.

thats what vandallers do I suppose.