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Posted on Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 4:12 p.m.

The Pink Pump walks away from Ann Arbor storefront on East Liberty

By Janet Miller

More change is on the horizon for the East Liberty Street corridor that links town to gown.

The Pink Pump, the shoe and fashion store that moved into the former John Leidy Shop adjacent to the Michigan Theater, is closing after two-and-a-half years.

pink pump.jpg

Tawny Thieu in 2010 before the opening of the Pink Pump in Ann Arbor.

File photo |

The 1,150 square-foot space at 601 E. Liberty went on the market Wednesday, said Randy Maas, of Swisher Commercial, and he was already showing it the next day, to someone interested in opening a restaurant.

“And there have been numerous calls,” he said. The space could be used for retail or for a restaurant.

He expects The Pink Pump to leave within a month. The space is being listed for $40 per square foot (about $3,800 a month) plus utilities, Maas said.

The Pink Pump still has two-and-a-half years left on its five-year lease. New tenants can either sublease the space for the remainder of the lease or sign a new five-year lease, Maas said.

Either way, he doesn’t expect it to take long to fill the space.

“I expect it will be leased within a few months,” Maas said.

While the corridor of East Liberty that links Main Street to State Street has seen a fair amount of turnover since Borders Books folded in 2011 and closed its flagship store at Liberty and Maynard, it remains a desirable location, Maas said.

And as plans take shape for the former Borders building, the area will become even busier.

“They leased 17,000 square feet of office space in the (former) Borders building with another 4,000 negotiating a lease. Barracuda Networks is in the area and there’s a lot of interest in the first-floor retail of the Border building, with some of it already leased. That is going to bring in a lot of pedestrian traffic,” Maas said.

The Pink Pump owner Tawny Thieu opened the Ann Arbor location amid a rush to expand her retail brand. She opened Shoe Envy in 2006 in Keego Harbor, changing the name to The Pink Pump and moving to Bloomfield Hills.

She quickly expanded, opening three more stores in less than a year: A store in Birmingham in 2009 and locations in Royal Oak and Ann Arbor in 2010. In 2011, she opened P2, a more budget-minded option, in Royal Oak.

But she didn’t keep consistent hours for her Ann Arbor store, and that might have hurt business, Maas said. Thieu also said the closing of Borders hurt The Pink Pump, he said. Thieu could not be reached for comment Friday.

Suburban Campus Properties, Inc., based in Wakefield, Mass., owns the building. The group also owns University Towers.

Janet Miller is a freelance writer for



Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 11:49 a.m.

Wake up greedy landlords........


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 2:22 p.m.

Incidentally, "walk-away" is a term applied to mortgages. This shop is "ending their lease"

Rob MI

Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 2:15 p.m.

I'm surprised not one person has jumped on the "not another restaurant" soapbox based on the passage "...he was already showing it the next day, to someone interested in opening a restaurant." At least not yet.

Martha Cojelona Gratis

Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 3:19 a.m.

Great store. You will be missed!


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 2:40 a.m.

No offense to Miss Thieu but if someone told me I had to pay 5 grand a month (3800 a month rent plus utilities insurance and staffing....maybe more than 5 grand) to sell shoes on main street in A2 I'd run away so fast I'd come out of my shoes! How many damned pair of shoes do you have to sell just to break even FFS.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 12:22 a.m. clearly don't know your women's shoes -- I was being REALLY REALLY lowball on that...averaging about 100.00 per pair ---actually, they are much more expensive than that in general...My math is very correct here...


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 11:19 p.m.

In reply to Hot Sam, Her shoes were very expensive!! Similar shoes in other stores could be purchased for about 1/10th (one-tenth) of the cost at DSW. Also the "fake" jewelry was way overpriced. She also carried a few clothing items, but I didn't pay much attention to that style of clothing, so cant' really say about that.


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 10:49 p.m.

Hot Sam Have you shopped there? What makes you think the store sells anything but 'REALLY fine shoes'? I haven't shopped there, but... The place is called Pink Pump. Locations are or have been: Ann Arbor; Keego Harbor; Bloomfield Hills; Birmingham; and Royal Oak. Based strictly on this info. I would expect that she isn't selling Keds. REALLY fine shoes may be short by a REALLY.

Hot Sam

Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 5:36 p.m.

@Halter...unless your wearing some REALLY fine shoes, you need to check your math :-)


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 12:08 p.m.

Hmm...not that many...50 pair or less, plus accessories. That comes to about 2 pair per day.


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 1:08 a.m.

She was never open! I tried to shop there several times and the store would always be closed. I have never in my life seen a more irresponsible business owner!

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 12:26 p.m.

while her last point may be hyperbole it doesn't change the essence. A retail business needs to have regular hours and keep those hours. If a business owner has "better places to be" than their business they need to hire a manager.


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 5:48 a.m.

The article seems to imply she had better places to be - among which included her other locations.


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 12:12 a.m.

The same issues forcing Border's into bankruptcy are affecting all bricks-and-mortar retailers, so the amount of foot traffic present, while potentially helpful, is not the sole factor making or breaking a given retail store. Retail is a tough way to make a living, unless you have something exclusive, that everybody wants - kind of like Apple stores. Of course, things rarely stay exclusive or unchallenged for long, as Apple is discovering.


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 12:09 a.m.

Not surprised. With the sky high rents in DT A2, there will be constant turnover. Big commercial chains are about all that can survive these rents. Greed is what it's about for the real estate cartel.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 5:44 p.m.

You may be referring to economy of scale Lizzy. Size has nothing to do with financial strength. Anyone still needs the cash flow to maintain their location and the student population can't support most retail or food service. It is a niche market and most businesses can't survive as we know from the turnover.

Lizzy Alfs

Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 2:49 p.m.

@alan: About the rents downtown: I think part of that is that the closer you get to campus, the more national chains or regional chains you see. Landlords can charge higher rents because the tenants they're looking for might have stronger financials than an independent business owner.


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 1:07 p.m.

@ GoNavy - They probably also taught you that the assumptions of your simple model were that all parties act rationally with 100% of information instantaneously. That's never true. Aside from that, I don't notice anyone advocating anything. It's just puzzling that people keep paying those rents and going out of business in a couple of years when they can rent for half the price a few blocks away.


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 12:05 p.m.

No doubt rent is too high in DD A2...I own a company near Briarwood with twice the space as this location and pay half of what she was paying's supply and demand. But when your foot traffic drops off, doesn't matter where you are located.


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 5:47 a.m.

You'd think there was an education of higher learning in this town. When I studied at the University, I specifically remember my economics courses - where I learned that supply and demand tend to reach an equilibrium that helps set prices in generally free market systems. There isn't any "greed" going on here, except the greed of the renters and landowners to engage in transactions. These are market-rate rents - it's plain and simple. I can't tell if you're advocating for rent control downtown. I learned in economics that price ceilings and floors don't work, either.


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 1:09 a.m.

@Alan. The problem was that whenever students tried to shop there, she would be closed. It's not that students wouldn't support her rent. It's that she was never open for anyone to actually buy anything!


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 12:35 a.m.

What's really odd to me, when I check the commercial space available, is that rent is higher close to campus. This space is $40, retail space in the Border's building is $45, but there are spaces on Main for $20. I think it's really tough to expect that students will support that rent.


Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 10:27 p.m.

Ah that's too bad. I went in that store all the time and always found things to buy. You will be missed!