Organic Bliss to close, blaming downtown Ann Arbor's 'independent retail environment'
Owner Melissa Bryant said the shop — which is located between the nonprofit 826michigan and the controversial new Bongs & Thongs shop — would close in mid-February. After that, she plans to continue selling some products on the store's website.
"Given the current economic conditions and more so the independent retail environment downtown, it has become impossible for me to grow Organic Bliss into the vision I have for it," Bryant wrote in a letter to customers. "As hard of a decision as it has been to come to, I believe it to be the right one at this time."
Bryant, in an email, told AnnArbor.com that she's noticed a "significant drop in foot traffic downtown, specifically shoppers," since opening in 2008.
She also suggested that the public's negative perception of parking in downtown Ann Arbor continues to harm businesses.
"Parking can pretty much always be found at the meters and structures so it shouldn’t be as much of an issue as it is, but I feel the city/DDA gives its residents zero incentive to shop with downtown merchants by continuing to make it more expensive, and planning to increase the enforcement hours," she said in an email. "Numerous merchants have spoken out about this and they are not listening." The store today launched a sale of 50 percent off all inventory.
Bryant, who launched online sales in fall 2009, had previously lamented the rising influence of big Internet competitors.
“I think I can compete with them, but not if you’re strictly looking online comparing apples to apples,” Bryant told AnnArbor.com in 2009. “If people are really price sensitive, if they’re doing a price comparison, that might hurt in that instance.”
The store's demise marks the latest in a string of closings for East Liberty Street businesses. Over the last several months, several stores have closed or announced plans to shut down, including fashion shop Poshh, shoe store Sole Sisters, candy shop This & That and restaurant Champion House.