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Posted on Thu, Nov 24, 2011 : 5:58 a.m.

Why one retiree plans to sleep in on Black Friday and shop local in Ann Arbor

By Guest Column

(This story is written by Wendy Mead, an Ann Arbor retiree and author of the blog

If you are interested in doing your holiday shopping at local stores, Ann Arbor is the perfect place to live. As a recent retiree and the author of the blog, I am often discovering interesting things to do and buy in this eclectic town we call home.

In the last couple of months, I have blogged about doing, eating, shopping and living in Ann Arbor. The vast selection of things to do and see here is still amazing to me — and many worthy things are free!


Retiree Wendy Mead is blogging about holiday shopping at

So why did I start blogging about being retired in Ann Arbor? One evening I was sitting at my computer, and I Googled “retired in Ann Arbor.” What came up? The top items returned from the search were about assisted living places. BLECH!! Now we all know that we will need this assistance some day, along with our excellent hospitals and medical assist items, hospice, and even cemetery plots, (I recently read an article that reassured us that there were plenty of plots left for us Boomers … whew.)

But if we don’t need these things now, we do not want to think about them now. Instead, we would rather focus on the great restaurants, activities, shops and quality of life that Ann Arbor provides.

So back to shopping. A couple of weeks ago, I wondered if it was possible to write a daily blog, starting on Thanksgiving, and ending 30 days later, on Christmas Eve, while featuring a different local shop each day. I was hoping that this would be an interesting resource for holiday shoppers looking for an alternative to mall and big box stores, or those just hoping to have a small effect on our trade deficit.

After listing my favorite shops, I realized that I could feature 2 shops a day, and still will not cover all the options.

Where else, in a town approximately 5 miles by 5 miles can you find more than 50 independent, interesting and quirky shops where you have a selection of many locally-made items? And that doesn’t even count all of the restaurants, fitness and massage studios, and beauty salons that offer gift certificates.

I divided the town into neighborhoods to better organize my search. The main areas that I will cover are Kerrytown, Main Street downtown, State Street downtown, Plymouth Road and West Stadium. My research consisted of SHOPPING! What could possibly go wrong with that?

I asked the person in charge of each venue if they minded that I photographed their most interesting items — and no one has objected. They also assisted me in finding Michigan-made items, as well as their favorite things.

I will start on (Black) Friday, with a couple of delectably obscure shops, where you can shop to your heart’s content without coupons or crowds. (And they don’t open at 4 a.m. either.) Then I will continue with 1 or 2 shops a day, until we have completed the holiday season, and we can go back to our normal pace, which, if you are retired in Ann Arbor, provides plenty of things to do on a daily basis.

You can find me at Please feel free to comment or ‘like.’

After enjoying a successful career in software, Wendy retired to one of the most highly rated communities in the country: Ann Arbor, Michigan. She loves traveling with her husband, cooking and going to all the activities and attractions around Ann Arbor.



Fri, Nov 25, 2011 : 5:05 a.m.

What makes people think shopping at locally owned shops "keeps the money local"? Those shopkeepers buy foreign-made items just like anyone else. They travel out -of-state like anyone else. Unless they are spending most of their profits locally, you aren't doing any more to "keep dollars local" shopping there than you are anywhere else. If you really want to keep dollars here, only one thing matters: Made in USA.


Thu, Nov 24, 2011 : 6:11 p.m.

I will not ever shop downtown. Almost all owners in Ann Arbor drive foreign cars. They want you to support them but think nothing of buying a foreign car where the profits go back to Japan, China, Korea etc..... We have lost thousands of jobs here in Michigan because of you people buying foreign cars. The profit does not stay in MIchigan. Your reasoning is some car parts are made in Mexico and Canada, thats true but the profits stay here in Michigan. Duh....... the headquarters is here. Not only that it is a trinke down effect for thousands of other jobs. Wake up and think about it!!!


Fri, Nov 25, 2011 : 4:04 a.m.

So where do you shop, Russell? I am always amazed at how many items in the big "American" chain stores are now made in China. Our farmers markets and many of the shops in our downtown and in Ypsi sell locally made items. I'm really interested in where you shop that you believe helps our local economy.


Fri, Nov 25, 2011 : 12:39 a.m.

The dealer at Ford where we bought are Fusion told us that particular car is manufactured in Mexico.


Thu, Nov 24, 2011 : 7:57 p.m.

Happy Thanksgiving russellr. Don't you realize that many foreign cars are made in N. America and employ American workers. Get your facts straight before you spout off. I have a feeling you are watching too much Fox News. Did you read where Fox viewers are less informed than people who watch no news at all? No surprise to me. -Peace, Kitty


Thu, Nov 24, 2011 : 4:30 p.m.

I'm not a retiree and I have planned all the long to shop locally. Black Friday means nothing to me.


Thu, Nov 24, 2011 : 3:10 p.m.

Visit downtown Ypsilanti too. There are amazing locally owned shops and restaurants there. And please don't limit your local love to the holidays.