Stories indexed with the term ‘downtown business’

Liberty Street Video to Close

The storefront of Liberty Street Video at 119 E. Liberty in Ann Arbor.

The storefront of Liberty Street Video at 119 E. Liberty in Ann Arbor.

When the economy soured last year, Dave Kozlowski still felt optimistic about the prospects for his business, Liberty Street Video. After buying the store in 2007 and investing in new inventory, sales were growing 10-15% each month, and he had finally stopped losing money.

But in January, he says business took a turn for the worse. Since then, sales at the East Liberty store have dropped around 5-8% each month, with no sign of improving. So with his lease up for renewal at the end of the year, Kozlowski has decided to close the last independent video store in Ann Arbor.

Sunday will be the last day of the store’s regular hours. It will be closed on Monday and Tuesday, then reopen on Wednesday with truncated hours: from 2-8 p.m. weekdays, and noon-8 p.m. on weekends. The goal is to sell off all inventory, including DVDs for $5 and $2 for VHS tapes. Kozlowski says he’s hoping to recoup some of his roughly $200,000 investment and pay down $40,000 in debt, including the $10,000 in back rent he owes the landlord, Ali Amiri.

“It’s been fun,” Kozlowski told The Chronicle. “I love it. I love the town.” [Full Story]

Inside the Box: The Mail Shoppe

MailShoppe Proprietor

Carolyn Hough, proprietor of The Mail Shoppe, peers out from behind some UPS packages that are ready to be sent out.

When customers call Carolyn Hough asking for directions to her store, she always tells them the same thing:  Look for the big yellow mailbox. Hough, owner of The Mail Shoppe in downtown Ann Arbor, says the decorative mailbox has marked the store’s location since it first opened 26 years ago.

For Hough, owning her own mailroom wasn’t something she dreamed of as a child. Originally hailing from Rhode Island, she spent most of her career as a medical librarian, a vocation she says was “very different” from her job now. What did that entail? It was a research position – before there were computerized databases. So responding to research requests from nurses and doctors – say on the latest known effective treatment for a particular disease – entailed manually poring through indexes and literature.

Hough purchased the business in 1983 from Doug Barnett after the hospital she was working for went bankrupt. “I love it – it’s so much more fun than working at the hospital,” she said. Readers who think that packaging a bear’s head sounds more fun than rummaging through medical literature might agree with her. [Full Story]