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Posted on Thu, May 5, 2011 : 4:16 p.m.

Suwanee Springs clothing shop in downtown Ann Arbor to close after 38 years

By Laura Blodgett

Suwanee Springs, a women’s clothing store located at 306 S. Main St. near Liberty Street in downtown Ann Arbor, is closing its doors this month.

“There’s just not enough business,” said Wally Meyers, who has owned the store for 38 years. The store was located near the Michigan Theater until relocating to Main Street eight years ago.


Suwanee Springs owner Wally Meyers said he's closing his clothing shop by the end of the month.

File photo |

Although there seems to be a slight retail boom in women’s clothing taking place downtown, Meyers says that the economy hasn’t been good for everybody.

“Who knows what other retailers are getting, but I’ve got a premier location on a great street in town with great windows and a good product mix. People love the store—but there’s just not enough going on,” said Meyers, who traced the decline back to 2008.

Meyers said the business could continue to survive but he feels it is too difficult as sole proprietor without a “9 to 5” job to provide additional income.

The store is currently holding a going-out-of-business sale with many items 40 percent to 50 percent off, including leather jackets and racks as low as $9.99. Fixtures and racks are for sale as well.

“I have the highest respect for Wally,” said Ed Shaffran of The Shaffran Companies, which owns the building in which Suwanee Springs is located. Known as Pratt Block, the building is made up of five retail spaces and nine apartments.

“He’s a great guy and has been very successful for a number of years as a retailer," Shaffran said.

Shaffran said he already has had a lot of interest in the retail space, due in large part to the popularity of the 300 block of Main Street, which houses The Ark and other prominent businesses.

“I have had all kinds of inquiries but our focus, as it was many years ago and will continue to be, is retail,” said Shaffran. “We will not put a restaurant in there.”

Shaffran cites the different issues that arise with restaurants, especially in an older building, such as odor, ventilation and noise, which disrupts the second-floor apartments. He would like to see some kind of specialty goods store open in the space that would draw people in from a distance, “or even a great golf store would be great down there,” he says.

The last day for Suwanee Springs will be near the end of May. Meyers will be semi-retired and looking for new opportunities.

Laura Blodgett is a freelance reporter for


Cindy Wallace

Sat, Jun 4, 2011 : 6:55 p.m.

There is much more to the story of Suwanee Springs closing than was mentioned in the article. I am a long time customer of Suwanee Springs and stopped by the store in early January to check the sales rack. Upon entering the store I was amazed by how much merchandise they still had after Christmas. The sales clerk mentioned that sales at the store had plummeted since the "Repair Scaffolding" was put up in front of the building in early November. Foot traffic as she called was down 80% over October (before the scaffolding went up) and the store was very dependent on the holiday season. Apparently the land lord had been asked by the small stores in the building to delay the cosmetic repairs to the building until after the holiday season. Their requests were ignored. The sales clerk went on to remark that the cosmetic repairs were scheduled for 4 weeks but apparently took 2 ½ months due to problems with building permits. Hmmm, it sounds like the land lord got a great off season discount from the building contractor and chose his own welfare over that of stores like Suwanee Springs. The employee remarked that the loss of Holiday sales due to the scaffolding was a tipping point and the store would likely go out of business. I felt bad for Suwanee Springs and ended up buying much more than I should have to try and lend a helping hand. I was very saddened to stop by the store last week to see it dark and empty. I think the penny wise land lord was not retail friendly as the article portrays and even Ebenezer Scrooge would be more considerate in these difficult times. Whatever happened to living by the golden rule?


Mon, Jun 6, 2011 : 9:57 p.m.

Cindy: I am happy to see that finally someone has spoken out on the heartless behavior of Shafran Associates in effectively closing down 306 South Main during the oh so important holiday season. The repairs were purely cosmetic and could have waited until well after the holidays. Not only was the building effectively blocked both visually and physically, the sidewalk was made impassable for almost three months by the scaffolding which, according to City documents, was without required permitting for a large part of this time. So, once again another small local business bites the dust because an Ann Arbor Landlord just was not interested in preserving what is left of our local retail economy. I see that another business in the same building, Busy Hands, is also moving? going out of business? Hmm. I wonder if this business also suffered nonrecoverable losses due the Shafran Associates business unfriendly practices? Ps: This purely factual, please feel free to call the City yourselves before you, once again, delete my comment.


Fri, May 6, 2011 : 6:45 p.m.

Thanks Wally for a great store and I am so sorry this economy has not picked up, Main st will not be the same without you.


Fri, May 6, 2011 : 10:33 p.m.

wonder what will be next? a bigger hotdog stand?


Fri, May 6, 2011 : 2:43 p.m.

Probably WILL be replaced by another coffee shop or sandwich joint. Soon Ann Arbor will hold the distinction of being the largest food court in the country.


Fri, May 6, 2011 : 2:04 p.m.

One by one, non-restaurant/bar/coffee places are disappearing from downtown. Pretty soon, it won't be worth going down there unless you want to get something to eat or have business to do. Good luck Mr. Shaffran, finding a viable non-restaurant for the space. It's interesting how, (for example) downtown Petoskey has a much more diverse and viable retail mix than the much larger city of Ann Arbor. Do you think abundant, free or low cost parking makes a difference? My daughter has worked up there for the last couple summers and one day she received a warning for an expired parking meter. A nicely-worded WARNING, not a ticket. Think that would have happened in Ann Arbor?


Fri, May 6, 2011 : 2:33 p.m.

"Do you think abundant, free or low cost parking makes a difference?" There are three differences. The number of people, the average age and the type of people. Ann Arbor has a relatively affluent crowd downtown that does not stay home to eat. And If we had free or low cost parking there would be cars left for the day and then those complaining about the cost of parking would be complaining about the lack of spots. FYI. I complain both about the cost and lack of parking and the cost of the food.

Dr. I. Emsayin

Fri, May 6, 2011 : 1:02 p.m.

Please don't put a golf store in that spot. How about something that will attract the ARK crowd?


Fri, May 6, 2011 : 2:23 p.m.

How about you put what ever YOU want there?

David Poul

Fri, May 6, 2011 : 9:30 a.m.

As soon as they step inside womens clothing stores, children are immersed in a colorful and magnificent world, similar to the world created by toy stores.


Fri, May 6, 2011 : 2:54 a.m.

um yeah, the smell in there is positively nauseating during business hours.


Thu, May 5, 2011 : 8:29 p.m.

Guess what folks.....this economy has NOT been getting much better.


Thu, May 5, 2011 : 11:20 p.m.

oh but according to "Wall Street" things are on the up and up (as profits for them) so spend, spend, spend! Riiight. Nogonahappen.