“It’s just so sad,” Doreen Collins told The Chronicle on Tuesday morning, standing in the front room of Dream On Futon. “I love this building. I love being on this corner. I can’t imagine what it’ll be like not to have this to come to every day.”
Doreen and John Collins opened Dream On Futon 15 years ago at the southeast corner of Liberty and Ashley. Last Friday, Doreen put up large “Store Closing” signs, and plans to shut down the business at the end of March. She said they just couldn’t pay their bills anymore – the monthly heating bill is around $400 – and they haven’t been paying themselves salaries for a while.
We heard the news when one of our readers saw the signs and filed a Stopped.Watched item about it, and so we stopped by Tuesday to find out what happened. Collins said the business has been struggling for about the past four years. The 2006 opening of Ikea in Canton was a blow, as was Pfizer’s closing and the general economic meltdown. “Nobody has any confidence in the world right now,” Collins said.
There’s something more fundamental at play, too. Collins says she’s treasured talking to customers and “just being a little part of people’s lives for a minute.” But she sees that society is changing and fewer people seem interested in that kind of exchange.
Her strong sense of place and her fondness for the building are clear. She took time to describe the structure’s history, showing where the mechanics bay was located in the back lower level when the building was a Sears tire store. Over the years it housed Monroe Antiques and after that a graphic arts firm. One of those graphic artists, Zeke Mallory, designed the images on her store’s front awning and windows (he also painted the large seascape mural on the building that houses Tios on East Huron). Then the property was sold to its current owner, Phil Conlin, who added the glassed-in front room a few years ago.
There are memorials, too: A wall of photos in memory of Shakey Jake, and outside, embedded in the stone wall built by Dave Menefee is a small plaque in memory of Roger Davis, who was shot while working as a bouncer at Mr. Flood’s Party in 1975. “What I’ve learned on this corner is so amazing,” Collins said.
Back in the store, everything is for sale. Collins hopes to liquidate as much as possible – there’s also a warehouse “full of beauties” – because she wants to move and store as little as possible. Futons, of course, but also tatami beds and Shoji lamps, glass sculpture and vases, yoga blankets and pillows, statues of Buddha and more.
Collins said she won’t be giving up her work entirely. She plans to continue selling her handmade pillows and futon covers, possibly at the Farmers Market or through her network of local yoga instructors and chiropractors. “I’ll just need to get the word out that I’m not through forever,” she said. (After the store closes, she can be reached at 734-665-3826.)
And though she rents a home in Ann Arbor within walking distance of the store, she hopes to find some land in the country where her family – including her husband and two of her sons, who work as carpenters – can grow their own food, as they did years ago when they lived in a farm near Waterloo.
But don’t be surprised if you see her around even after the store closes. She laughs: “I’ll probably still come and sit on the corner every day.”
Dream On Futon is located at 303 S. Ashley in Ann Arbor. Store hours are Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Sunday noon-5 p.m. The store is expected to close by March 31.