goodbye old friend: henrietta fahrenheit is leaving

I just got done with my comic for the next issue of the Ann Arbor Paper. Its about my friend Jennifer and that fact that shes closing her store, Henrietta Fahrenheit, here in Ypsi and moving it to Ann Arbor, where she hopes business will be better. I dont want to get into the whole thing here, but the fact that her store is leaving Ypsi is a big disappointment to me even though its likely that shell sell a lot more of my stuff in Ann Arbor. A lot of us who are pro-Ypsi looked at her store, which unlike a lot of other Michigan Avenue stores, was run professionally, as a sign that things were changing. The very existence of a place like Henrietta Fahrenheit gave us hope. We thought that other entrepreneurs were sure to follow and that they, like Jennifer, would continue to raise the bar. We envisioned a time in the not too distant future when our little half-mile stretch of Michigan Avenue was a thriving destination, full of quirky little shops, cafes, bookshops, bars, and restaurants. We thought that the days of boarded-up storefronts, and, worse yet, filthy stores opened irregular hours and conceived without business plans, were behind us. Unfortunately, that wasnt to be the case, at least not now. Jennifer, try as she might, couldnt make it work in Ypsi and a few weeks ago she decided, in spite of her love for Ypsi, to go to a place where there was foot traffic sufficient to keep a shop like hers afloat.

So, it was with a considerable degree of sadness that I sat down this afternoon to work on a comic about this turn of events and what it means for Ypsi to lose the one retail establishment that really spoke to the (pardon me for getting all Richard Florida and using the word Im about to use) cool creative types that call this little town a home. Henrietta Fahrenheit spoke to the potential that we all saw in Ypsi and it hurts to see it go.

Anyway, thats what I tried to write about and it took quite a while, as I kept having to censor what I wanted to say. I kept wanting to say nasty things about Ann Arbor, the spoiled girls gone wild college kids who dont have to work, the now conservative former hippies that run city government, and all the rest of it. What I finally submitted was somewhat tepid. I alluded to the things that I was feeling, but didnt come right out and say them. What I wanted to say was that I hope Jennifer sucks the bank accounts of the sorority girls (or, I should say, their parents) dry. Yes, itll suck to hear repeatedly from now on how an innovative, quirky store like HF couldnt ever make it in Ypsi. Itll suck to hear all the, I told you sos, and all the, Well, what was she thinking in the first place, doing something so ambitious in a place like thats. But, the fact that shes going doesnt invalidate the feelings I have for Ypsi. I still feel as though this place has a unique opportunity to steer a course around the brand-saturated mall-like fates that so many small towns are falling victim to. Henrietta Fahrenheit, for me, was a statement that we didnt need a Starbucks to be successful. While it sucks to see it go, though, I still think theres hope.

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