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Posted on Fri, May 11, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

New retailer will move into ex-Borders store near Ann Arbor

By Lizzy Alfs


Renovations are under way at the former Borders store on Lohr Road, making way for a new tenant.

Melanie Maxwell |

The former Borders store on Lohr Road in Pittsfield Township has a new tenant eight months after the bookstore chain closed its doors as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy liquidation.

Columbus, Ohio-based Big Lots, a retail chain that specializes in closeout and overstock merchandise, signed a lease for the 28,500-square-foot space in April, said Tom Goldberg, an owner of the Waters Place Shopping Center just south of Ann Arbor.

Construction on the space was under way Friday, with delivery trucks on site and crews making interior renovations.

The store joins Kohl’s, Best Buy and the recently opened Dick’s Sporting Goods in the shopping center.


A Big Lots store in California.

Photo from Wikipedia

Goldberg said the under-construction space should open sometime this summer, although he didn’t have an exact timeline. A Big Lots representative could not immediately be reached for comment.

Big Lots carries a variety of items, including toys, furniture, clothing, food items and electronics, which are purchased wholesale from other retailers and then sold at discounts. The company has more than 1,454 locations in the U.S., including 24 in southeastern Michigan.

Goldberg said the company — which has one local store on Ellsworth Road in Ypsilanti Township — has been searching for an Ann Arbor location for a long time.

“They love Ann Arbor,” he said. “This was their opportunity to come into the market and they made a very strong proposal.” The listing price for the space was undisclosed.

Since Borders moved out, Goldberg said many interested tenants looked at the space, but he struggled to get the right rental terms.

“You know, the market is still unsettled,” he said. “There are a lot of retailers who will come into the market, but only under very severe rental terms and conditions that weren’t appealing to us.”

He called Big Lots "sort of like a miniature Costco", and said the tenant fits nicely with the mix of retailers in Water Place.

A Costco store is set to open about two miles from the Waters Place Shopping Center in Pittsfield Township on June 29.

“(Big Lots) is completely different than everything (in Waters Place),” Goldberg said. “Its products aren't in one strict category, which gives them a little different spin on the market. I think it will be good for the mix.”

The company, which is expected to release its first quarter earnings May 23, reported a 2011 revenue of $5 billion. It recently announced that first quarter revenue for stores open at least a year may be “slightly negative," with sales recently slowing on electronic items.

Last year, Big Lots became an international retailer when it purchased Canada-based closeout chain Liquidation World, which has 82 stores.

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



Sat, Jul 28, 2012 : 6:50 a.m.

Interesting psychology at work here: (1) Borders had the "Ann Arborite" market for years yet that very same market (those customers) could NOT support Borders just as they could NOT support the very snazy Jacobson's. (2) Yet - those same big spenders don't like the idea of a more thrifty retailer, even though thrift (NOT conspicuous consumption) is the foundation for many a personal fortune. What's really weird here is that the Jacobson's / Borders location downtown remains empty while far out on the fringe: a low cost retailer chooses to set up shop. Maybe a new winery should start up in the old Border's Books space: they could sell under the label: Nouveau Riche !! LOL!


Sun, May 13, 2012 : 2:01 p.m.

Growing up, this was one of the worst things a classmate could say about your family: "Your mom's so poor she sleeps on Big-Lot's milk crates, and wakes up looking like a waffle!" This was even worse than "Your mom buys your shoes and underwear at Kmart" or the dread "Your family's so poor you all eat cereal with a fork to save milk. *grin* Anyway, I am hoping the "location/shoppers shape the store" mantra holds out for this new store - the Target, Meijer, and Wallmart in Ypsi and Downriver are very different stores than their counterparts in Ann Arbor and Saline...demographics, income, etc. usually dictate selection of goods in stores (if they have smart purchasers/merchandising staff...unlike Briarwood where they seem to think everyone who shops their is either 12 or 80 years old)


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 1:57 a.m.

I agree about Briarwood. There is nothing of interest to me there--boring. I do go to Kohl's and Meijer, but never go to Briarwood, except maybe directly into Sears for their tool section. Big Lots could be an adventure and I do plan to go there when I'm out that way.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 5:50 p.m.

There is a Big Lots in Canton (considered by many around that area another snobby area), and that hasn't drove the gourmet coffee drinkers and soccer moms away. It also has helped the more "socially accepted" retailers around it. They even have a Big Lots furniture store there and that is thriving and it hasn't negatively affected the property values. Big Lots has been there several years (first time I shopped there was back in the mid-nineties). The cool thing about Canton is they can be classy but are secure enough in themselves to live with discount retailers and also be surrounded by several other cities borders without feeling like their utopia is in danger of be tainted. That's why I like living in Ypsi township in an area for me that is just as easy to go shopping in Canton areas or Ann Arbor areas. My significant other chooses to go to Canton areas retailers many times over Ann Arbor area retailers just to be around other shoppers that are a lot less shallow and more secure in their identities. The big Lots in Canton has been somewhat messy and disorganized, but I attributed that mostly to the volume of traffic the store had. I've been to (name a classy or "accepted" retailer here) on sale days and found the same level of picked through merchandise and disorganization. So for all of you shallow folks out there that want your utopia just don't shop there, and continue to pay a premium for your goods on non sale days at other more "accepted" retailers.


Mon, May 14, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.

djacks24, Where is this Big Lots in Canton? As far as I know there isn't one in Canton. There is one in Westland off of Ford road, but not Canton.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 2:41 p.m.

Instead of stationing a greeter just inside the door, Big Lots has a guy with a banjo.

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, May 12, 2012 : 3:50 p.m.

I read about a guy with a violin that might need a gig. He's making people mad on Liberty st.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 12:40 p.m.

Oh, the humanity! Get a grip, people. It's just a store and it isn't even in Ann Arbor. Hopefully it will not affect our "coolness rating".


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 12:35 p.m.

Funny, how many comments I read, that say "they should put it here" " put in ypsi" " put it on washtenaw." First off, the last time I checked, it is Big Lot's choice, where they decide to put a store. Secondly, the people of ann arbor show how out of touch with reality they are. Big Lot's is employing people to rennovate, and will employ people to run their store. Some commentators on here should take a look around. There are places in this world, that do not have the luxury of a government subsidized economy (the University).


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 12:31 p.m.

I wonder what the reaction would've been if it was a dollar store that was going in there?

Basic Bob

Sat, May 12, 2012 : 10:19 p.m.

Snobby "progressives" chaining themselves to bulldozers.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 12:47 p.m.

I'm thinking mass suicides.

David Ham

Sat, May 12, 2012 : 12:27 p.m.

To the "haters" out there, a Big Lots doesn't excite me either. I liked having the Border's store but there were not enough shoppers looking for the products and experience they offered, so they failed. Likewise Linens and Things didn't attract enough shoppers to stay in business. That is how the retail industry works. If you sell products that people want, at a price they are willing to pay, that allows adequate profit for the owner, the store succeeds. If not, it fails. It's easy to sit in front of your keyboards and criticize the property owner for finding a tenant you don't approve of. You are not the one losing money by having an empty store. If enough people shop at Big Lots then, yes, it will actually provide jobs for some people. And yes, the additional traffic might actually provide some benefit for the other retailers in the mall as well as the nearby restaurants.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 12:27 p.m.

Not what I envisioned for that space, but will be interesting to see how it does. I hope they keep it cleaner and neater than the one in Ypsilanti. I don't shop there often, but have found a few good deals. Also, sometimes they have items "from the past" that other retailers don't carry. I've found household cleaners, soaps, etc. there that my mom used and could no longer find at a Meijer or K-Mart or other big box store. They do carry "name" brands of many items. Who knows? Maybe they will thrive in that location!!

Lac Court Orilles

Sat, May 12, 2012 : 11:54 a.m.

Not a good fit!

Basic Bob

Sat, May 12, 2012 : 10:17 p.m.

It's a big box. What would you have go in there?

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, May 12, 2012 : 11:43 a.m.

In the end the free market will decide if this store is successful. That is the ultimate judge. Big Lot as a corporation is both a Fortune 500 company and a member of the S&P500 index so its doing something that appeals to a lot of folks. It's common stock has performed well above the DOW and S&P 500 averages over much of the last 10 years. So again, overall its a successful business model at the moment. Unlike the previous tenant.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 10:43 a.m.

Big Lots? Great, now all we need is an all you can eat buffet.

Basic Bob

Sat, May 12, 2012 : 10:16 p.m.

I love buffets, but most of them cater to people without their natural teeth.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 11:17 a.m.

Actually, yeah we could use that.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 8:25 a.m.

its funny how i hear all this negatively about big lots and how it will bring ann arbor from classy to trashy. but do u realize that a2 has more consignment stores that have ever seen. and that all these "rich people" shop there ex. salvation army, pto, reuse, restore, value world, st vincent, sharehouse and many more maybe this will be a step up


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 12:30 p.m.

I think Ann Arborites see those types of stores as being "environmentally friendly" and "green" or else "vintage". In other words, they're "cool". There is a difference between "vintage" and "trashy", which is the opinion some people have of Big Lots.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 3:46 a.m.

Bring back the Coat Factory.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 2:45 a.m.

... its the kiss of death...


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 2:09 a.m.

Big Lots is an interesting retail experience. Almost like a giant retail flea market. You can find some pretty kool things if you're willing sift through thing.

Laura J

Sat, May 12, 2012 : 12:09 a.m.

What a bunch of Ann Arbor elitist snobs. What is wrong with Big Lots? There have good deals and lots of inventory. Are you complainers really that snooty?? Get real and come down off your high horse.

David Ham

Sat, May 12, 2012 : 12:22 p.m.

Mikey, I'm one of those people who don't read The Ann Arbor News. It stopped publishing in 2009, so it's really hard to do. Apparently you believe we should have a "high class retailer" in that mall. Would you consider Border's and Linens and Things to be high class retailers? Obviously those chains didn't attract enough shoppers to stay in business. Maybe the owner of the mall would actually like to have someone paying rent.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 2:43 a.m.

Mikey, you sound like a real snob. How does it feel to be so shallow?


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 2:08 a.m.

its a low class retailer that appeals to a certain crowd ..... most of which do not read the Ann Arbor news (or can't read.... I don't know....)


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 12:02 a.m.

Quick someone call Kohl's, Dick's and Best Buy to jointly outbid for the space so that Big Lots does not go in. Frankly, Dicks should take some of that space because their store is way too small for Ann Arbor. Brighton Dick's has a much bigger selection. I am sure they would all rather the place be vacant. Big Lots is not the same target market at all. Sorry, but, it will either fail or create crime and drive away business for the other stores. For those saying "snob" it is just a reality. Property manager is short sighted on this one.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 11:41 p.m.

A2 is going down the drain, BIG LOTS is coming to town. Ha! Ha! Seriously though, more jobs, another place for people to shop, more tax money for the city, what's the big deal?


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 10:41 p.m.

I think the Big Lots should have come to the Arborland ex-Borders space instead. There are two vacant big stores in that spot, and lots of traffic on Washtenaw from 23, bus service, etc. I've been in better Big Lots than the one in Ypsi. I used to like them better than I do now, since they used to carry brand names at a deep discount, like Stanley tools. But still, there are decent bargains to be had there. You do have to be more careful, though, since some of it is not deeply discounted or is cheaply made. But then, that's true of most stores these days.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 4:12 a.m.

They are. Luckily their store will not be downtown.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 10:31 p.m.

Ugh. Just what we need...another mega-store.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 10:29 p.m.

My condolences to Dick's Sporting Goods, Best Buy, and Kohl's. Glad it's going in on the south side of A2. I live on the north side and found it just as easy to shop at these stores and Costco in Green Oak. I guess I'll keep going there.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 9:40 p.m.

c ya


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 10:32 a.m.

You do that.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 10:20 p.m.

Big Lots is one of my favorite stores to poke around in. I definitely prefer the clientele there to the "get out of my way I own the world" sort of mentality radiating from the REI/Whole Foods crowd.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 11:44 p.m.

Isn't that the truth. Sometimes I go to Meijer in AA and I feel like I'm invisable, people seem to run you over.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 9:41 p.m.

What a bunch of snobs! The store will pay taxes! It will employ people! I say great!


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 10:30 a.m.

Here here... I was about to post that same thing. Bunch if Ann Arbor snobs.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 9:39 p.m.

Definitely a step down from the stores that have been in that plaza - a BIG step down. Looks like the owner opted for the quick buck instead of being patient. The junk look doesn't fit. Pittsfield deserves better.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 9:27 p.m.

I've only lived in AA for a few years but this store, in such a visible and prominent shopping location, will be totally out of place. It will drag down the "shopping experience" in that area. High income families may avoid that strip mall - who wants to be seen driving a BMW, Audi, Lexus or Volvo (I do not own any of these luxury vehicles) in front of a Big Lots? No one, that's who! The other tenants should demand rebates and discounts on their rent as they are likely to lose customers and profit! MIniature Costco?? Please! More like a disheveled K-mart off of its meds! Shame on the landlord for trying to spin this!

Laura J

Sat, May 12, 2012 : 12:16 a.m.

I guess you have never read the book, "Secrets of being a Millionaire." People who have money, know now to save it. That's rule #1.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 11:53 p.m.

You're joking right?


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 9:01 p.m.

Couldn't they find space in Ypsilanti? This seems like a serious mismatch for this shopping center and I suspect the other tenants are none too pleased. Wouldn't be surprised if this turns out to be a short-lived experiment.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 11:20 a.m.

Who reads the articles before commenting?

Laura J

Sat, May 12, 2012 : 12:13 a.m.

There is one already in Ypsilanti Township. Did you not read the article??

Ricardo Queso

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 8:52 p.m.

As far as clientele go, an even trade with the loss of the Old Country Buffet.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 8:49 p.m.

Many years ago in another city I went to a Big Lots a couple of times and couldn't help wondering if much of the merchandise there had recently been stolen from nearby loading docks. It was such a bizarre, random assortment of stuff, none of which I needed. Big Lots or empty storefront ... it's all the same to me, because I won't be going there.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 8:48 p.m.

I'm guessing they will end up like Tuesday Morning did in the Target Plaza over there - closed and moved to Washtenaw. Every Big Lots I've ever been to has been dirty with stuff all over the floor that fell off the shelves. The people that shop over there won't put up with that - just ask Tuesday Morning.

Britain W.

Mon, May 14, 2012 : 1:20 p.m.

Anyone else remember when Tuesday Morning started out next to Busch's? I think it was where Pet Supplies Plus now.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 5:36 a.m.

Tuesday Morning started out on Washtenaw in Ypsi, then moved to the Target plaza. They're gone, too, and have moved to Ford Rd. in Canton.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 8:40 p.m.

Would LOVE TO HAVE A Menards, but that location is too small. I'm sure the students will enjoy it.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 11:40 p.m.

Jackson Ave/Rd.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 8:49 p.m.



Fri, May 11, 2012 : 8:34 p.m.

Big Lots will officially make it a strip mall. Not classy at all.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 10:28 a.m.

Um.... It's ALWAYS been a strip mall


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 11:50 p.m.

What was it before? A strip mall is several stores connected together.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 8:32 p.m.

If we can have Aldi & Dollar Tree, why not Big Lots too?


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 5:43 p.m.

Aldi is dirty and cheap. Would not find me there. Ever.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 11:47 p.m.

Aldi is great!


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 9:38 p.m.

Aldi has great store brands, fresh produce and good prices. Sounds like a snobby comment to me.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 8:03 p.m.

Big Lots? For real? Every Big Lots I've ever been to (2 seperate stores on a few different occasions) has been a junky mess. Keep it classy, Ann Arbor!

Robert Granville

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 9:26 p.m.

Apply as a manager and keep it classy yourself?


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 7:57 p.m.

I would like to see someone use the downtown space. Actually, I think a goo supermarket would do well there. A place where students and downtown residents can buy groceries cold be a gold mine, eh?


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 10:26 p.m.

I think the time is coming for a downtown grocery. West siders and Burn Parkers could walk and bike. Make it unique and high quality and they will come.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 8:04 p.m.

I'd go buy some goo for supper. Tee hee.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 7:46 p.m.

The only Big Lots I have ever been to is on Ellsworth in Ypsi, and it's not a great store. That particular store is dirty, disorganized, and the merchandise is junky and damaged. Items are left in aisles in unpacked boxes and shelves are totally a mess. I certainly hope they do a better job of organizing the store at Waters Place. I have no problem with discount retailers and am looking forward to Costco, but Big Lots is just a bigger, messier Dollar Store, IMO. Better than nothing, I guess, but hardly a "miniature Costco."

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, May 12, 2012 : 11:26 a.m.

I haven't been to the Big Lot on Elseworth. But I have been to the Walmart there and the Walmart in outside of Saline. There is a different feel to those two stores. Maybe the same will hold true for the Big Lot.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 7:45 p.m.

I think a walmart would have been best. Kidding....kidding...settle down.


Sun, May 13, 2012 : 2:22 a.m.

Already have one on State St in Saline.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 7:37 p.m.

Anything is better than an empty storefront.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 5:10 a.m.

@Applehazar Better go back inside and lock the doors, the economy is changing, yes its even affecting A2.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 7:43 p.m.

Empty is better. Big lots. Are you kidding me. Boy the landlord is desperate. Next up a pawn shop. Pittsfield are you ready??


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 7:33 p.m.

i would have liked to see a Hobby Lobby go in there, but Big Lots will do.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 7:47 p.m.

Hobby Lobby would have been much better.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 7:19 p.m.

I almost thought Big Lots was coming to downtown Ann Arbor for a moment. Good thing I misread the title.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 5:32 p.m.

Although that might not be a bad idea considering the huge amount of students who could use a great deal after paying off their loans or getting the shock of a life time when the bills come due.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 11:19 a.m.

That would be hilarious. Space isn't big enough, though!

Robert Granville

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 9:24 p.m.

I thought the same exact thing. That would be very, very strange.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 8:45 p.m.

Just wait until Concerned Citizen shows up to lecture you about what is and isn't "downtown Ann Arbor." It's a subject he holds dear.

Audion Man

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 7:23 p.m.

That would be hilarious... many of the people reading that would require medical attention if they thought there would be a Big Lots downtown.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 7:18 p.m.

That's too bad


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 6:56 p.m.

It would have been great to have a store like Buy Buy Baby. The only top chain baby store is Babys R Us, and that's off of Carpenter. The closest Buy Buy Baby is in Canton.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 6:50 p.m.

So happy there is a big lots close to me now, I love deals

Audion Man

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 6:36 p.m.

That sound you hear is thousands of privileged Ann Arborites holding their noses.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 11:35 a.m.

It's so painful that the headline didn't even name the store: it just says "new retailer."

Tex Treeder

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 6:26 p.m.

I'm glad to see this space filled. Big Lots seems like an unlikely choice, but much better than having the space vacant.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 6:18 p.m.

I'm with Arboriginal.....big lots...gross.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 6:10 p.m.

Ewwww....Big Lots.


Fri, Jul 27, 2012 : 9 p.m.

It is called a "progressive" community.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 5:10 p.m.

aamom- What does northern Cali have to do with this discussion? Anyone that has lived on anywhere along the western seaboard (or Ann Arbor) knows what a LA transplant is...just follow the soccer mom utility vehicles to target and whole foods.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 4:50 p.m.

Clearly you've never lived in Northern California, Poly. It's ethnically diverse, but pretty much everything else is the same as you've listed.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 4:56 a.m.

These comments are sad, I've lived in several cities on both coasts in the US never have I encountered such paranoia about socioeconomic status as I have in Ann Arbor. Diversity is a good thing...just go to a large city...its really real, trust me. On the other hand, do you want us all to pretend to be outdoor types driving around in our 98 Subaru Outbacks with "peace" signs and "M22" stickers? Oh..forgot the roof rack...


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 5:54 p.m.

Good. I wanted a Big Lots within driving distance.

Alex Swary

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 5:49 p.m.

Hmmm... I like to occasionally shop at Big Lots, but it doesn't really seem like it'll fit in in this shopping center.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 5:30 p.m.

The fit is more inside Arborland then anywhere else. Too far for me to drive. Haven't been to one in years.