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Posted on Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 3:42 p.m.

Independent Literati Bookstore signs lease in downtown Ann Arbor

By Ben Freed


Rick Snyder's former campaign office will be a bookstore before the end of spring.

Melanie Maxwell |

It’s official: Ann Arbor will have a new downtown independent bookstore. After some minor renovations, the property at 124 E. Washington St. will be the home of Literati Bookstore.

Co-owners Hilary Lowe and Michael Gustafson signed a lease Tuesday for Gov. Rick Snyder’s former Ann Arbor campaign office in the ground floor corner property at the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Washington Street. Lowe said the agreement was reached with landlord Faramarz Farahanchi without using a broker.

A picture on the store’s blog shows Lowe signing the lease while an oversized stuffed “Bob Marley banana” looks on smiling.

The approximately 2,600-square-foot space will get a minor makeover including a new floor in the basement and a fresh coat of paint before Lowe and Gustafson start moving in shelving.

The pair announced in an earlier blog post that they will be using shelves from the old Borders flagship store in downtown Ann Arbor to hold their collection. They also plan to paint over the shelves with chalkboard paint that will allow customers to take and share notes.

Lowe said she and Gustofson were not ready to set a date yet for the opening of the store but they hope to be in business before the end of spring.

“We’re moving forward as quickly as we can,” she said. “We’re extremely happy to have the location and we can’t wait to open.”

Ben Freed covers business for You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Reach out to Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2


Steve Hendel

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 3:02 p.m.

Gauging from the comments, there seem to be a lot of people with extra money to go around-urging everybody else to 'shop local,' even if it means paying extra. There ARE people who don't have that luxury.


Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 5:56 p.m.

Isn't it somewhat about priority? I don't have much disposable income, and I use the library quite a bit, but I also value a local bookstore and the vitality small businesses bring to Ann Arbor.


Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 1:08 p.m.

NOT the dreaded BAVARIAN Literati! :)


Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 12:18 a.m.

YES! Great news. What a relief that it is a bookstore and not a cafe AND an independent bookstore at that! I will definitely frequent this store.

Pamela Waterman

Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 6:37 p.m.

So glad to see a new bookstore coming, even though I've left the A-squared area for a second time. As an author, reader and publisher, I welcome every indie bookstore. I'm sure I can order from them online at some point, and next time I'm back in the neighborhood, I'll have to check it out.


Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 12:30 a.m.

Good for you and thank you for your support of the local, independent bookstore owner. fyi, I am NOT one.


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 5:21 p.m.

The repercussion of ignoring our local economy and making purchases based solely on price hurts our local economies. Sometimes its okay to spend a little more. One can put what ever spin blah on this as they please but at the end of the day it's about supporting our neighbors who relatively pay the same cost of living. A cart blanche attitude to our purchases ignores the economics of any local economy. There needs to be a discussion about how we buy food, gifts, plumbing supplies....and on and on.


Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 12:29 a.m.

Well said and so true.


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 4:07 p.m.

I wonder if they will run into any issues with the name of the store. There is a very popular internet game with the same name.


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 3:43 p.m.

This is excellent news, I look forward to them opening up!

David Cahill

Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 2:36 p.m.

This is great news! Are they going to do an exorcism before they move in?


Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 12:19 a.m.



Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 4:04 p.m.

Right on Dave.


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 2:35 p.m.

Good luck to the new business folks. I can't even imagine how many books they need to sell each month just to pay the rent on that building let alone make a living. Yikes.


Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 12:24 a.m.

do your part and buy one.


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 2:30 p.m.

Good news! Not only do they have to compete with Amazon, they have to deal with sky high AA rents! Tough environment for independent bookstores. Maybe they can create a niche market, or offer something unique to draw in people who will actually purchase books and not just browse. If they offer comfy chairs, they are going to have to deal with the homeless who used to camp out in the downtown Borders. I saw a few of those yesterday out at B&N in the Washtenaw-Huron Parkway store camped out/sleeping in the very few comfy chairs available at B&N. I do wish them well, but it's a very challenging environment.


Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 12:24 a.m.

So support the new store! Shop there even if it costs a few more bucks. (you could give up a cup of Starbucks, e.g.) And encourage others to check it out as well.


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 1:13 p.m.

Great, a new bookstore but....... Hope they smudge it before moving in to remove any lingering effects from the previous tenant!


Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 12:21 a.m.

Amen to that, Mermaid72 !!!

Nick Danger

Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 12:08 p.m.

this is fantastic

Liliana Holtzman

Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 11:28 a.m.

This will make a huge difference in our town! Wonderful news,


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 2:52 a.m.

Wonderful news! I plan to use them even if it means paying a little more, but they should stay away from mysteries. It will be a great block with two bookstores! Less pizza, more books!

Ann English

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 1:01 a.m.

Sounds like you're the kind who, upon opening Christmas gifts of food and information, you take in the information first, and then take days to finish the candy and hot cocoa. Information gifts hold interest better than Christmas candy does.

Lynn Liston

Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 1:16 a.m.

Really great news!


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 11:38 p.m.

Yay! What's their plan to compete with

Steve Hendel

Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 11:44 a.m.

Susan, would you have called Border's a local store? They might have been one at their beginning, but they too wound up with massive warehouses in faraway States. I guess I need someone to explain the economics of it all to me, because otherwise it would seem that in a low profit margin business like book selling, most of the money stays local anyway, in the form of the expenses of running the store. ANY bookstore, chain or otherwise, has to buy it's 'merchandise' (i.e. books) from out of town.

Now Found

Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 11:15 a.m.

Public support, that's what! Let's all visit their shop, buy local, and watch them prosper. Having a nice cafe section wouldn't hurt!


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 11:13 a.m.

If everyone were to shop from massive storage facilities bases out of rural North Dakota then we should closes all stores tomorrow. No business with a storefront anywhere can compete with the amazon model. If one doesn't want vacant store fronts through out the city then one may want to consider spending a little extra and support the local economy. Supporting local businesses keeps the money local and adds life and character to the city.


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 1:57 a.m.

"What's their plan to compete with" Hope there are still enough people that like leaving their house.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 11:02 p.m.

Excellent news, downtown A2 sorely needs another independent bookstore and I wish them the best of luck. With the closing of the original Borders, there is a dire need of a store w/a good art/architecture section too (shameless plug). Welcome, Literati!


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 12:53 a.m.

Also a store with a bathroom, and perhaps an area where you can read magazines and other books without actually paying for them. Because let's face it: We need another physical bookstore in this country like we need another coach whip manufacturer.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 10:42 p.m.

What kind of books?

Lisa D

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 10:20 p.m.

Outstanding news! Thank you!!!!!!


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 10:08 p.m.

Welcome! Apparently small bookstores are doing better this year than last:

Lizzy Alfs

Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 12:18 p.m.

Interesting article. Thanks for posting.

Sam McDermott

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 9:41 p.m.

Great news! This is something this town has desperately needed in the past couple years.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 9:38 p.m.

Great news! Thanks for the article, Ben. The more attention Literati gets, the better the chances of success. Hopefully, people will value the store more after others have disappeared, such as Shaman Drum.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 9:34 p.m.

I really hope it works out, but, for some reason, I'm less than enthusiastic that they will be fruitful. Good luck to them!


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 9:19 p.m.

It will be great to have a bookstore on that corner! I wish them all the best.

Jessica Webster

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 9:09 p.m.



Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 9:09 p.m.

I wish them luck. I enjoy playing Yahoo Literati on the net.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 9:08 p.m.

I hope they've figured out how to make a profit with the Amazon's of the world.


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 4:02 p.m.

I will take a slightly high priced book if I can get it RIGHT NOW than have to wait 5 days and pay out the nose for shipping.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 9:01 p.m.

Finally! A good bookstore downtown. I look forward to it although I have to admit that my budget does not.

Ann English

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 12:56 a.m.

One good thing about books is that to read them, you don't always need electricity, like you do for reading a Kindle "book".