Who gets the Ypsi Arbor sign when the bowling alley folds?

ypsi_arbor_bowlIt looks as though the Ypsi Arbor Bowl is closing in May, after more than 45 years in business. While it sucks that we’ll no longer have a local bowling alley, the thing that bothers me more is the thought that the iconic sign out in front of the building might no longer grace that stretch of Wastenaw Avenue. It’s one of the very few things along that corridor, in my opinion, that has any character, and I’d hate to see it go. Maybe, if we’re lucky, they’ll sell the business, and the sign will stay where it is. But, if not, we should find a way to buy it and keep it lit. Actually, if they haven’t already, someone from our local Historical Society should contact the owners of the alley and see if they might want to donate it. They might say no, but it would be worth a try.

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  1. Posted February 17, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    We should all plan to get together at their bar for one last drink.

  2. Liz
    Posted February 17, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    I say we get a Kickstarter going [ala Robocop] & put it up in Riverside. Next to Iggy Pop, of course.

  3. pj
    Posted February 18, 2011 at 1:14 am | Permalink

    oh my goodness,

    I moved from ypsi in august and every time i come back a few other landmarks are shutting down. the ypsi arbor is such a landmark (granted im not much of a bowler but have been there)

    if the corner, tap room, sidetrack, or abes close next we should all be afraid

  4. Oliva
    Posted February 18, 2011 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    I especially like that “Ypsi” is before “Arbor.” But also the shape and look, of course-and familiarity. We must keep the sign somehow, yes, and I am sad about no more local bowling, even if I’m not much of a bowler. Is fun when family visits to go there. Sad!

  5. Burt Reynolds
    Posted February 18, 2011 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Before a bar meeting Mark, please consider this…

    Last Saturday I went bowling at Y/A at around 2pm. Obviously this meant beer time. I walked over to the bar and it was completely dark and closed. I went to the front desk to ask what the deal was, and was told the bartender didn’t show up.

    Now there were quite a few people wanting drinks. Most establishments would have just pulled someone from another area to handle the job temporarily, but not an Ypsi bar. What happened next was typical Ypsi. They allowed me behind the bar to pour my own beer from the tap. Awesome.

    In a way the situation was typical Ypsilanti. The powers that be screw something up, and it is up to the great citizens to get it going again…A microcosm if you will..

    I found the situation frustrating and charming all at the same time.

  6. Edward
    Posted February 18, 2011 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Great story, Burt. Nothing that cool ever happens to me.

    As for the sign, I say we see if it can stay where it is. If not, we could drop the “bowl” and move the rest of it to the dividing line between our cities, wherever that might be. And if we can’t find a way to save it on our own, we might want to encourage a local developer to get it for their shopping complex or whatever, the way Arborland has the big “A”.

  7. Nick Teen
    Posted February 18, 2011 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Bowling alleys don’t pay the bills on shoe and lane rental alone. Bar sales are a major source of revenue. I used to walk into Ypsi Arbor greeted by a cloud of smoke. For better or worse, I’d be surprised if the smoking ban wasn’t a significant factor in their demise.

  8. Ken
    Posted February 18, 2011 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    That is a nice sign. Maybe there is a way to keep it if they build some kind of retail place. They did that in East Lansing with this grocery store sign:


  9. Kristin
    Posted February 18, 2011 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Fern always says “It’s the sun!” when we drive by. It is admittably gray in the winter, and she’s barely old enough to remeber what the real sun looks like.

  10. Knox
    Posted February 18, 2011 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    They’re going to be building a new shopping complex across from Whole Foods. Maybe they’d be interested in flying the Ypsi-Arbor banner. But maybe that’s too close to Ann Arbor. I should be closer to 23.

  11. Andy1313
    Posted February 18, 2011 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    I have no actual information, but I wonder if the closing is due more to how the place was managed than just the economic downturn. I often see the parking lot mostly full, so there is some revenue coming in the door.

    Sadly I learned of the closing from Groupon.

  12. Stephen
    Posted February 18, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    When we loose our bowling alleys, we’ve lost our middle class. The two go hand in hand.

    With that said, I think that Ypsi Arbor Bowl has been sliding for years, and not investing in keeping their facility up. Like most out of town owners, though, my guess is that they just tried to extract as much money from it as they could.

  13. roots
    Posted February 18, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Yes, if need be, let’s buy that sign and put it next to Iggy Pop! (Both a la Kickstarter?)

  14. John Galt
    Posted February 18, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    It’s hard to find time to bowl when you’re working two jobs. And that’s a good thing. If you can’t find time to bowl, you can’t find time to march around like those pampered fat cat teachers in Wisconsin, complaining about every little thing that bothers you. We need a working class that works, and that’s all. We don’t need them having time to go to night school, learning things that don’t make them any better at their jobs in our assembly plants.

  15. Felix
    Posted February 18, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Assembly plants? What are those?

  16. Oliva
    Posted February 18, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    Burt Reynolds, I like your story a lot, love that way Ypsilanti can be; and I really appreciate your take on how things work around here:

    In a way the situation was typical Ypsilanti. The powers that be screw something up, and it is up to the great citizens to get it going again…A microcosm if you will.

    Resonates, alas, with the wrenching thoughts I had after hearing details of the governor’s hideous budget proposal–crafted, by the way, by a man from Utah who earns something like $266,000 for making decisions fit for some other (and godforsaken) place but not Michigan and calling them “a strong foundation” (heard him interviewed on WDET this morn–he didn’t mention the salary, obviously, did say the schools had been attractive to him and his wife when he was deciding to take the job). A strong foundation would be to assist communities showing great promise in great part through the innovative support and civic genius of their residents (and businesses); a strong foundation would be to bolster educational funding rather than slashing $480 per public school student and making draconian cuts to public universities, among the other egregious proposal items . . . while cutting the business tax with a bankrupt notion that a better rating by Wall Street is what this state really needs. Ideology trumping not only common sense but decency and the chance for a sound and bountiful future for so many really great people such as those who live around here.

    Oh, p.s. I think the seriously ill-fitting budget director with distressing priorities and weak ideas should at least be willing to earn what the average Michigan worker earns, leaving the state with an extra $210,000 a year–could put it toward Planned Parenthood, which provides better health care for women than many of the high-falutin’, insurance-chubby health clinics. (Time to march in Lansing!)

  17. Oliva
    Posted February 18, 2011 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    Senator Bernie Sanders has good (uncommon) sense! And what do you know, in his case principle is in line with good sense–and good policy. (Sorry that I keep veering off from Ypsi-Arbor so flagrantly.)

    Sen. Bernie Sanders has just introduced the “Foundations for Success Act” that would provide childcare and early education to all children six weeks old through kindergarten. Through a national competition among states, modeled closely after the “Race for the Top” competition for education funds, states would apply for federal grants and establish high standards for early child care and education. Sen. Sanders argues that giving this kind of access to care and education is essential for keeping the United States economically competitive to other countries and helping to speed along the economic recovery.

  18. Posted February 20, 2011 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    i have lived across the street from ypsi/arbor for 12 years steadly watching the it go down.The business has dwindled over the years. it didnt just begin to happen, and the only nights that it is busy is thursday nights.unfortunatly,i understand that once a sign that tall is down that ,due to ordinace that it can not be be put up again on washtenaw.hopefully it remains.it is as iconic as the water tower on campus.once it is gone it will never be the same traveling washtenaw from ann arbor. so sad maybee to lose this history.

  19. b
    Posted February 21, 2011 at 12:44 am | Permalink

    “Who gets the Ypsi Arbor sign when the bowling alley folds?”
    the answer to that is ….me!

  20. Meta
    Posted February 25, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    AnnArbor.com is saying that it’ll go to auction.

    Rich Glomb, an owner of the bowling alley, says he’s fielded many calls from people asking about the sign’s future and expressing hope that it remains near the corner of Golfside.

    “They don’t want it to go away,” he said. “They want to keep it somehow because it’s so beautiful.”

    The building that houses Ypsi-Arbor Lanes is owned by Frankel Associates and it has been a bowling alley since 1964. The current operators took it over in 1971, Glomb said.

    They’re planning for the closing by now, setting up an online liquidation auction that will run throughout May, Glomb said.

    All of the interior fixtures and the sign belong to Ypsi-Arbor Lanes and not the building owner, he added. And he expects the sign to be a part of the liquidation.


  21. Chaely
    Posted March 1, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    The poll on the AA.com link above is so upsetting. 49% voted to scrap it.

    I own the Ypsilanti Iron & Metal Co sign from the Water St redevelopment. I’d be willing to become the Ypsi version of the Neon Museum Las Vegas if it meant adding to my collection.


  22. Posted March 4, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    This sign will be part of an overall bid package that will be ready to bid on in April… you could be the owner of this sign!

  23. Posted March 5, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    So how do we move forward on this? Has anyone spoken with the folks at the historic society? Is there any interest there in preserving it? If possible, I’d like to remove the “BOWL” part of it, and keep the “Ypsi-Arbor” right where it is. Assuming others agree, what should our next steps be? Should we try to collect funds, perhaps through Kickstarter, to put in a bid? Or, if I’m reading Glenn’s comment correctly, will the sign be bundled in with the building? If that’s the case, I’m not sure what can be done. I suppose that money could be raised, and then an offer made to whomever buys the building. It would be easier, though, if it were auctioned separately.

  24. Bob
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    I’ve loved that sign as much as anyone but there is something that bothers me about this kind of thing. That sign was made for a bowling alley. Bastardizing the sign is sort of stupid, disrespectful to the sign even. If the bowling alley goes, the sign probably should as well. I don’t know, even if it ends up in a yuppie (do they still have those?) cocktail bar at the mall of America. It should remain intact. There is also something sort of creepy about the desperate need to preserve inanimate objects because they make us warm and fuzzy about our youth. Like the Monkees reunion.

  25. Edward
    Posted March 6, 2011 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    I disagree, Bob. We can debate whether or not the “BOWL” should stay, but I don’t think you can say that the sign hasn’t, over the past 50 years, become somewhat iconic and important for our community. Ideally, though, someone buys the property, decides to keep it as a bowling alley, and the sign remains as is.

  26. Jonathon
    Posted March 7, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    I spoke to that Glenn fellow he told me that the sign will be auctioned off separately starting April 1st through his website auctionbowling.com.

  27. Cassie
    Posted October 5, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Does anyone know if the sign is currently on display at the neon museum, or wherever it was that bought it?

  28. Jay Hospital
    Posted December 4, 2020 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    Does anyone have an update on what happened to the sign?

  29. Wobblie
    Posted December 5, 2020 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Does not look good. The most recent article i can find that mentions the National Save the Neon Sign Museum is from 2015. That article was about some folks buying back a sign from the museum—maybe because museum closed?
    A real life mystery to solve—Where in the world is the Ypsi-Arbor sign?

    Does anyone know anyone in the Dakotas?

  30. Wobblie
    Posted December 5, 2020 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    The museum evidently consist of a field in Minot N. Dakota. Greg Baumgarten, Is evidently the owner. He seems willing to sell signs back, but youhave to arrange transport.

4 Trackbacks

  1. By Washtenaw Avenue news | Motown To Tree Town on February 19, 2011 at 8:55 am

    […] of businesses folding, the Ypsi Arbor bowling alley, and Mark Maynard is dismayed by the thought that the iconic sign out in front of the building might no longer grace that stretch of […]

  2. […] it looks as though the auction for our beloved Ypsi-Arbor sign has now begun. The good news is, at least so far, no one has stepped forward to start the […]

  3. […] up for sale. [For the background, I’d suggest that you read our previous discussions on the matter: Part 1, Part 2.] The good news is, nothing’s been finalized yet. The bad news is, the highest bid is […]

  4. […] Long John Silvers, to the Middle Eastern place that used to be a Dunkin’ Donuts), and it had the Ypsi-Arbor Bowl sign that, up until yesterday, had been standing at the intersection of Washtenaw and Golfside since […]

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