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Posted on Sat, May 7, 2011 : 5:58 a.m.

Wendy fashion shop pleased with initial response after opening in Nickels Arcade

By Laura Blodgett

Wendy, an upscale clothing boutique in downtown Ann Arbor’s Nickels Arcade shopping corridor, officially opened its doors on April 25.

“We are really pleased with the turnout,” said owner Wendy Chapman, who also works as a commercial real estate appraiser. “We have had such positive feedback—people love the clothes.”


Wendy Chapman and business partner Johnny Vaughn opened the women's clothing boutique Wendy in downtown Ann Arbor's Nickels Arcade.

Janet Miller | For

The store is also offering concierge service: delivering clothing to women “if they have a conference coming up and spilled something on their shirt or maybe they have a party that night and can’t get home in time to change,” said Chapman. She believes the service is not being offered anywhere else in Ann Arbor.

Catering to working women professionals, the store offers classical stylish clothes for women of all ages and sizes. Lines include Zelda, Ravel, Leota and Comfy USA and provide everything from office and party wear to everyday casual clothes. Chapman, who launched Wendy with business partner Johnny Vaughn, plans to ramp up to 12 to 15 lines eventually.

Prices range from $50 for tops to $500 for coats, with most items running between $100 and $200. Although some may feel that is a high price point, Chapman is focused on offering better quality clothing that will last 10 years or more.

“I feel like there is already so much of the lower-end product out there, and there is no way I can compete with Target or Urban Outfitters anyway,” she said.

Before opening, Chapman conducted extensive market research and looked at what other local boutiques were carrying.

“We felt there was plenty of room for our product and we were really conscious of not crossing any lines currently being carried,” said Chapman.

Chapman selected the 600-square-foot space in Nickels Arcade because it exudes class and sophistication.

“It was originally built as an upscale destination shopping center modeled on a center like this in Europe. And there are so many neat retailers in here," she said.

The store will have a grand opening sometime in the future, said Chapman.

Laura Blodgett is a freelance reporter for


JA Jones

Sun, May 8, 2011 : 1:54 p.m.

What's snarky? If you're selling clothes, expect people will form an opinion about what you wear. I must agree that outfit she's wearing doesn't inspire much confidence and the name does seem narcissistic ... not adding up to great vibe. You can't deny the inescapable fast food image that has been connected with that name for decades. And all you truly need to start a business these days is nothing more than lots of extra cash, which is what you'll need to shop there by the sound of it.


Sun, May 8, 2011 : 12:40 p.m.

Way to go Wendy, thanks for adding one more unique, local, independently owned business in this crazy economy and keeping Ann Arbor retail unique. A friend has already shopped with you and loved her purchase, can't wait to stop in.


Sat, May 7, 2011 : 11:31 p.m.

I think it takes a respectable amount of chutzpah to open a new shop these days, especially in Michigan. Certainly a lot more than it takes to leave snarky comments.


Sat, May 7, 2011 : 7:17 p.m.

Wendy's, Really? What an awful name for an "upscale" shop. She must not have consulted a focus group or a marketing team. And, I must say the photo of her does not act as good adverting. She looks frumpy and uninteresting. She is an attractive young woman with very old soul taste. If she takes the ego out of the store name and thinks about her clientele she might come up with an name that has more of a draw for the professional women she is trying to attract.

Christy Summerfield

Sat, May 7, 2011 : 3:32 p.m.

I wish Wendy lots of luck. I like to encourage new businesses in Ann Arbor. Most campus clothing stores cater to students (and those who think young) and there actually are professional women who work on campus. I love Urban Outfitters and Wendy's isn't a shop I'd be likely to patronize, but I think it does fill a niche. So much success, Wendy.

Wolf's Bane

Sat, May 7, 2011 : 8:33 p.m.

Urban has the worst quality clothing, ever! I have had plenty of shirts that after one single wash morphed into something for a 15 month old. I, like you, also wish Wendy the best, I just don't think the name is particularly good. That's all.


Sat, May 7, 2011 : 3:25 p.m.

I wish Ms. Chapman well. And I moved to Ann Arbor in the mid-1970's, and at that time, Caravan, the antique store, Bays Jewelry, Van Boven, and a travel agency were in Nickels Arcade, which I don't exactly view as down-scale. (An independent children's bookstore, Betsy Ross restaurant, and a Merle Norman store have come and gone in the years between then and now.) I may be in the minority, but I am rooting for Ms. Chapman. Her price points on merchandise seem realistic, and she may have a bit of a slow summer with the exodus of a large percentage of the university population, but I think by late summer she should see an uptick in her business. And BTW, yes, Nickels Arcade was modeled after The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan. I've never, ever thought of it as "downscale". "Upscale" is in the eyes of the beholder. Is Nickel's Arcade trying to be The Somerset Collection? No, and probably it never will; Ann Arbor is a town that has money, but doesn't believe in ostentatiously showing off, and yes, this is something I've observed over the past 35+ years. Graduate students, upperclassman entering the career world, and career women working in downtown Ann Arbor have been looking for a place to buy mid-priced quality clothing ever since Jacobson's left downtown over 15 years ago. I think this community of women especially will welcome Ms. Chapman's new enterprise.

Randy Parrish

Sat, May 7, 2011 : 3 p.m.

Comments are insightful as always!

Randy Parrish

Sat, May 7, 2011 : 7:53 p.m.

yes it is sarcastic!

Christy Summerfield

Sat, May 7, 2011 : 3:19 p.m.

I sure hope this is sarcastic!

Wolf's Bane

Sat, May 7, 2011 : 12:47 p.m.

When you say Wendy's, I think Hamburgers. Sorry.

Christy Summerfield

Sat, May 7, 2011 : 3:19 p.m.

Oh come on. This is a totally unnecessary, snide comment. Shouldn't we be encouraging new businesses?


Sat, May 7, 2011 : 12:20 p.m.

"Chapman selected the 600-square-foot space in Nickels Arcade because it exudes class and sophistication." Really? Not in my time, and that's going back 30+ years. I wish her success, but she better plan on lots of advertising since the store is invisible from the street. I'd suggest a refer-a-friend program.

Christy Summerfield

Sat, May 7, 2011 : 3:23 p.m.

Well I've been here more than 45 years and the Arcade has always been a special place with small, sophisticated shops, in addition to a few businesses, mostly on the second floor.