You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 5:57 a.m.

Saline shopping center at Michigan Avenue and Industrial Drive faces retail vacancies

By Lizzy Alfs


The Commons at Sauk Trail shopping center, located at 1335 E. Michigan Ave., has had several businesses close or leave the complex in the past few months.

Lizzy Alfs |

The retail makeup of one of Saline’s biggest shopping complexes is shifting quickly after two stores recently left and two others are facing significant challenges.

Recent changes in the Commons at Sauk Trail shopping complex at 1335 E. Michigan Ave. at the corner of Industrial Drive have left four storefronts empty.

Meanwhile, the 96,726-square-foot shopping center’s anchor, the Country Market grocery store, is still trying to fend off competition from the new Walmart a mile to the east in Pittsfield Township. Country Market’s owners report that the store incurred a $25,000 weekly loss in sales due to Walmart’s opening in fall 2009.

And Blockbuster, which operates a video rental store at the complex, is downsizing in bankruptcy.

Among the recent changes at the shopping center:

— The Fashion Bug clothing store, Pack & Mail and the Flaming Shish restaurant closed or left.

— The Dollar Tree relocated to The Oaks shopping complex, which is less than a mile west on Michigan Avenue.

— A new ice cream shop is set to open in the coming weeks.

With several businesses moving out of the complex, four spaces are currently up for lease, said listing agent Bob Mihelich of CB Richard Ellis.

The annual asking rental rate for space in the complex is $12 per square foot, according to the listing. The owner of the complex is Ned Hakim of Investico Development Corporation. He declined to comment on the changes at the shopping center.

Mihelich said there are a few prospective new tenants for the complex, but that acquiring new tenants may involve moving existing ones to a different space in the complex to open up storefronts closer to the road.

“We are aggressively going after new tenants,” Mihelich said. “We’re trying to keep the current tenants that we have and move forward to try and lure people to the center.”

Mihelich attributed the recent departures to general retail economics.

“Owners are seeking the lowest occupancy costs that are available to them today, whether it means moving across the street or to another location,” Mihelich said. “Hence, landlords who cannot lower their occupancy costs are losing tenants.”

Existing tenants at the Commons at Sauk Trail include Blockbuster, GNC, Wags to Whiskers Pet Supplies, Grondin’s Hair Center, Tanfastic, AAA Insurance Agency, B B Nails, H&R Block, Country Market, Snap Fitness and Elite Cleaners.

Blockbuster’s corporate future is tenuous. The company — which is cutting hundreds of stores, including its location on Plymouth Road in northern Ann Arbor — was recently sold in a bankruptcy auction to Dish Network. It’s unclear whether the Saline store will survive the company’s restructuring.

The Commons at Sauk Trail complex is not alone in fighting retail vacancies.

In The Oaks shopping center, where the Dollar Tree relocated three weeks ago, listing agent Bela Sipos of Reinhart Commercial said there are about four vacancies, depending on how he breaks up the building.

“This has taken a while to fill up,” Sipos said. “I think this is an excellent location, but everywhere is having trouble right now.”

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



Thu, Jun 23, 2011 : 2:09 a.m.

I REFUSE to go to Walmart, I do patronize the GNC and the Country Market.

random thoughts

Sun, Jun 12, 2011 : 11:52 p.m.

Maybe the vacating business owners should have been interviewed to ask them why they left.


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 4:33 a.m.

The plaza has been losing tenants for the past couple years. The ice cream place has been setting idle for the past year plus and it seems that will not be opening anytime soon. Country Market will eventually close since it has been having trouble since wally world came in. No one will want to open a business there with all of the vacancies and the uncertainity surrounding Country Market.


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 1:03 a.m.

@Lizzy Alfs: Why not list all of the open businesses in the shopping center. I'm sure that patrons of Mancino's, TCF Bank, Ruby Tuesday, and Biwako Sushi would be concerned if your article implied these businesses were closed. Yes, there are many vacancies in Sauk Trail Commons, but there's still a good amount of traffic throughout the week. We're far from dead and gone! And in re: the ice cream shop - are you referring to the Emily's next to Tanfastic? That has been 'coming soon' for over a year now. Do you have additional information that this store will actually open "in the coming weeks"?


Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 6:18 p.m.

Remember, the 'local' Dollar Store is little different than a WalMart, it just occupies a smaller foot print. It's may not be as much the Walmart effect, as it is a combination of consumer priorities and preferences. Managing the cost of living, reduced discretionary income, higher healthcare costs, and even on-line shopping wth direct to door delivery are likely the bigger culprit. Necessities and convience drives the market now. Survival will always wins out over altruistic ideas if it means putting food on the table. The last five years were just a wake up call.


Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 6:15 p.m.

Family Video is just awesome (!!) and located everywhere east of I-275. They have $1 rentals, Students with GPA's 3.0 and over get free rentals, etc.

Robert D. Mosley

Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 3:38 p.m.

The writer of this column has picked a topic the citizens need to know about. Walmart is a consistent leach on small and local business. I moved here from Pennsylvania and when I go home, the effects of Walmart have been devastating to the local businesses. Thank you for alerting us to the Wal Mart effect in Saline and the excellent writing in the column.


Thu, Jun 23, 2011 : 9:15 p.m.

Just went to WalMart for the first time in my life, and I must say that I was very impressed by the grocery section. Good quality at very good prices. WalMart is doing what foreign cars did for Detroit; making the competition improve and offer us better values and products if they want to compete.


Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 2:02 p.m.

I just looked at the Mancino's website and it seems they're still in the same location. I wonder why they weren't listed above as tenants of this center. Also, wasn't there a coffee place here at one time? Did they close too?

Lizzy Alfs

Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 2:05 p.m.

@Arbuckle Yes the Mancino's is still open. All of the businesses in the complex weren't listed.


Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 1:54 p.m.

Wait a minute, did Mancino's close too? I've only been to that shopping center a few times and it has always been for Mancino's.

Jonny Spirit

Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 2:50 p.m.



Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 1:52 p.m.

Could we please get a Family Video or a bagel shop or something other than a Country Market and a Ruby Tuesday in there?? Or maybe a Home Goods or Marshall's or something?? I live in Saline but drive to Canton for most of the things I need. How about a Hobby Lobby or a Babies R Us or a Bye Bye Baby? Saline has always competed with Ann Arbor but what about competing with Canton or West Bloomfield or Troy?? Wouldn't that make sense more? All this place needs is a big box store to keep it going.


Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 4:23 p.m.

Bye Bye Baby sounds great...but Family Video or any other movie rental store probably wouldn't make it...Netflix, DVR, OnDemand, and the $1/Night DVD rental machines in the stores are putting all the movie rental places out of business...of course all of these offer way better prices than the rental stores ever did


Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 12:11 p.m.

Another "Walmart effect"?


Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 10:39 a.m.

lizzy dont forget about the ACO strip mall just down the street on Michigan and Maple. there are still 3 empty storefronts there out of 8 retail opportunities. these have been empty for over a year. Busch's strip mall also has a number of empties. Saline commercial/retail economy is less than vibrant.