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Posted on Mon, Feb 15, 2010 : 5:27 a.m.

Ann Arbor neighborhood braces for two more store closings on Packard Road

By Angela Smith

It'ss been over 5 years of sweets and neighborhood treats at Paula's Place, but at the end of the month that will be no longer.

Owner Paula Fader-Graff feels guilty about the closing, but confesses that the economy has taken its toll in this local sweet shop, and the doors will close permanently on Feb. 26. It's not the only closing in the retail center south of East Stadium: Hollywood Video will close its doors, too.

"People are tightening their belts, and we opened just before things started to go south," Fader-Garff reports. That may not have given Paula's Place enough time to become truly established.

Nonetheless, neighborhood families really appreciated having a fun place to walk to with their kids. A perfect summer outing might include a double cheese from Marco's Pizza, a family movie rental from Hollywood Video, and ice cream cones at Paula's Place.


Paula's Place and Hollywood Video both display closing signs.

smith | contributor

Older kids would also sometimes bike up on their own. "What breaks my heart the most is the kids; they could come in and feel grown up and spend their own money. Parents trusted them to come in; it was fun." says Paula.

This closing comes less than a year after nearby Georgetown Mall closed the door on its last tenant, Kroger. Needless to say neighbors are concerned about what all of these vacancies will do to the property values and to the sense of community in this area.

Just weeks ago, Forbes warned that Hollywood Video and other video rental stores were struggling to keep up with the high tech movie rental market.

It's been an issue locally, too, as stores started to close a few years ago. Now the pace seems to be picking up: Downtown Ann Arbor's Liberty Street Video closed in the fourth quarter of 2009. Businesses like Netflix have both big and small video companies on guard.

An employee at the Packard Road Hollywood Video location said they were unsure how much longer the store would be around, "4 weeks? 6 weeks? 8 weeks." The store closings signs and sales are already posted, and that also goes for two other nearby locations, on Packard just east of Carpenter Road, and in Ypsilanti.

Also in the plaza are Marco's Pizza and Quest Martial Arts. A Marco's employee describes business as "so-so." Keith Copeland, owner of Quest, was unavailable to make comment.

As for Paula Fader-Garff, she has no immediate business plans, and looks forward to some time at home. Paula's Place will close its doors quietly, but not until after Fat Tuesday. On Tuesday, Feb. 16, sweet-tooths can rejoice as they find nothing but Paczki at Paula's Place. The decadent donuts are a traditional pre-Lenten treat served on Mardi Gras, and Paula promises that the ones she gets from Dexter Bakery are the best around. You can get yours for $12/dozen or $1.25/each.

Lead Shopping Blogger Angie Smith will hunt for deals and dish on the latest in retail in Ann Arbor. Readers will attain notices of great deals, and store happenings in and around the city. To report a news item or tip contact her at


Angela Smith

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 7:18 a.m.

Harriet thanks for your feedback. The stores mentioned in this post are/were on Packard; the first full paragraph mentions east of Stadium. To be more specific, the plaza is across from the old Georgetown Mall and north of Platt. Here is link to a map for the still standing Quest Martial Arts in that plaza.,0,15169762355529923317&ei=NBDgS52kFYvuMomSnNEH&sa=X&oi=local_result&ct=image&resnum=1&ved=0CAkQnwIwAA

Harriet Fusfeld

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 6:26 a.m.

Where is the neighborhood written about in this story? The readers need to know locations of places mentioned in a story. This lack of information has occurred much too frequently in your stories. Harriet Fusfeld fusfeld


Mon, Feb 22, 2010 : 9:30 a.m.

i do hope that you are right about packard. i wonder where the retired folks who would hang out at doms/paula's place in the mornings will go now? as a neighbor, i hope that someone/something will go into that spot.

Esch Park

Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 5:29 a.m.

come one guys, stop crying in your beer. Netflix put the video rental stores out of business. While Paula's Place was a nice place to walk up for ice cream but I have to say the store hours were erratic and we stopped going because one never knew if they were open or closed. This neighborhood has desirable demographics with a significant disposable income while it may take awhile, I am convinced Packard will evolve into viable retail corridor - look at Morgan and York, Cake Noveau, BTB, and Liberty Title moving into the former bank.


Tue, Feb 16, 2010 : 4:31 a.m.

Don't forget about Everett's on W. Stadium--Now Taco Bell sits there-- then the Ponderosa, now a Chinese Restaurant--then the A & W where there is now an oil changing place--And they have torn down the old KFC & Slotchky's (spelling?) which used to be Aurthur Treachers Fish & Chips--Gosh, am I feeling old! Oh, and they have torn down the Old Loy's TV on Maple and Dexter. I could go on and on, yes Ann Arbor is changing. I have some great memories. I can actually remember Maple Rd. across from Vetrans Park before K-mart was built.


Tue, Feb 16, 2010 : 2:23 a.m.

I too loved Paula's shakes, much better than the ice milk used at that other place down the road. Bellhelment & Eyehart, must be townies! Also throw in Drakes, Leo Ping's, Joe's Star Lounge, Everrett's Drive Thru, Capital Market, A&P and Burger Chef! Thanks Bellhelment for the memories of A2 Implement. As a youth carrying the three major papers (Freep, News & A2 News) I long dreamed how a mini-bike would help me on Sunday's when the load of papers became too much!


Mon, Feb 15, 2010 : 9:55 p.m.

Well we are pointing out old grocery stores on that side of town we can't leave out the Great Scott at the Washtenaw/Stadium split.


Mon, Feb 15, 2010 : 7:16 p.m.

@Waystan was'nt there a big discount store there back in the 70's? Service merchidice I think

Wystan Stevens

Mon, Feb 15, 2010 : 6:35 p.m.

When I was a kid in the 1950s, this whole building was a freestanding Kroger store. It had replaced a smaller Kroger on the corner of Packard and Stadium (a building that became the Food and Drug Mart). In the 1960s, after Kroger moved to an even newer store in Georgetown Mall, this building housed Vescio's (pronounced "Vay-shows") an independent supermarket. Vescio's also had an outlet on West Stadium at Liberty. Obviously, Vescio's was not immortal, either....

Martha Mackres

Mon, Feb 15, 2010 : 4:32 p.m.

Paula... sorry to see the shop close. But you made a good run of it! Now we might have time to see each other.

John Galt

Mon, Feb 15, 2010 : 3:21 p.m.

The State and City are slowly wasting away. This depression is just picking-up steam. In the past couple years we have Georgetown Mall closed. Now this mall is going to be right behind (the owners of the mall will have a hard time continuing to service the site with two main tenants gone.) Gas stations are closing (less traffic with high unemployment=less gas demand and sales)-the one on Packard and Platt recently closed. Numerous stores and restaurants throughout the city have closed (Bennegans on State Street, etc.) Few new businesses have been created---certainly nothing to anywhere near replace the multiple closings. The city budget is shot. State population is in decline. Roads in Ann Arbor are starting to resemble dirt. This winter will cause many to crumble further. Those who have (thus far) been sheltered by work in University and government tax-subsidized areas are going to feel the effects next. We cannot tax at the same (or higher) rates as the private sector is shrinking. Even rents in the apartment complexes locally have been shrinking about 10 percent from a couple years ago (a good thing if you are a renter, but not if you are a landlord or have commercial real estate loans to pay). Housing is still in decline, as people have less money to pay and loans are more difficult to obtain. I wish I had some "solution" to give, but I fear this country has been in decline, and will continue to be, until the currency collapses from all the debt. All the "entitlement" spending will not be cut for political reasons and the military drain in Iraq and Afganistan will hasten the collapse.

Angela Smith

Mon, Feb 15, 2010 : 1:06 p.m.

Sad to say I came to Ann Arbor after many of the places mentioned in comments here were already closed. ----But I did just reminisce with a friend about the old drive in theater near my childhood home. As for the feelings of out with the old, in with the new, there is construction near completion at nearby Packard Marketplace. Latest information I have still says that the anchor store there will be an Indian style grocer, making that area of Packard into a small multicultural shopping hub. They are building along at a good speed, I'd say. I am sure I'll have more to say when things get closer to completion, I've been watching it.

Patti Smith

Mon, Feb 15, 2010 : 11:59 a.m.

I'm so sad about Paula's Place. Her soups are amazing. When I had to get a root canal last year, I about lived on her shakes (put on a few pounds, but who's counting?:)). Sad to see her go!

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Feb 15, 2010 : 11:47 a.m.

I was a semi regular ice cream buyer at Paula's, especially in the summer and will miss it. On the up side maybe now I'll be able to button my trousers again.


Mon, Feb 15, 2010 : 11:40 a.m.

The sadder thing is that this commercial center will now sit derelict and abandoned like the Georgetown Mall as no owner is going to invest the $ necessary to make it attractive to new tenants until the city finishes its deliberations on their proposed modifications to the Area Height and Placement (AHP)standards in the zoning ordinance. The proposed changes would incentivize property owners to redevelop their commercial centers to be in compliance with environmental & property codes (better for the city & its residents), but as long as the process is stalled in a bureaucratic morass no property owner is going to shell out $$ to improve their property. Another example of how bureaucratic foot-dragging has real world consequences!


Mon, Feb 15, 2010 : 11:01 a.m.

I rememeber hanging out at this spot when it was Dom Bakeries and Shelly's Place. Shelly's was cool because there was a pretty good size game room in the back. What is interesting are those two new strip malls near the Packard and Platt intersection. The one off of Platt has no tenants and has been done for a while now. I can't see the viability of the one on Packard being any different.


Mon, Feb 15, 2010 : 10:36 a.m.

Paula's was nice too bad.As for Hollywood I fired them several years ago when after renting movies from them for years they decided that you had to give them a credit card number to rent a movie


Mon, Feb 15, 2010 : 10:27 a.m.

So sad. Ann Arbor is shrinking away.

Mike Nowak

Mon, Feb 15, 2010 : 8:02 a.m.

That's really too bad -- its' one of the best features of the neighborhood.