Sunday’s big Ypsilanti infomercial

As I mentioned a few days ago, Ypsilanti had the distinction yesterday of playing host to a three-hour-long, live infomercial. While I couldn’t attend in person, as I had a meeting in Ann Arbor at the same time, I did have an opportunity to go down to Riverside Park on Saturday afternoon, scout things out, and talk with some of the hundred or so people who were brought to town by QVC for the filming… Here are a few brief notes, followed by video of the entire segment, as it aired.


They couldn’t have picked a nicer weekend for filming in Ypsilanti. It was like paradise on earth. Even the non-flowering bushes were flowering.


This is the woman responsible for those lovely flowers. “They’re not real,” she said to me with a smile, as she saw me taking a photo. “I know,” I said. “I used to live in Los Angeles. I know everything’s fake.” I heard later that they also put a boat of some kind in the river, which, given the fact that it’s only a few feet deep at that point, seems pretty silly. I’m sure it must have looked cool in the background, though, sitting there, just over the bush full of tropical flowers, as the host urged people to buy bags of slow cooker “fudgie brownie wedge” mix… I also heard that they made members of their staff dress up like they were fishing, repeatedly casting their hookless lines in the background, completing the image of Ypsilanti as a tropical Mayberry.


This woman’s job, she told me, was to watch the items that would be the sold the following day, during the live broadcast. I asked if people in the live audience would be given an opportunity to buy them, and she said that they’d be handing out ipads so that folks could still have the experience of buying stuff while sitting in front of their television sets at home.

I’m sure I could have learned more, if I’d taken the time to poke around and talk to more people, but that’s about as far as I got with my primary research… Here, for those of you who didn’t have an opportunity to watch it live, is video of the entire segment. (If you can’t make it though all the pitches for the $33.14 Genius Salad Chopper, which, by the way, now comes in teal, just jump ahead to the 26-minute mark, where you’ll find their nice little feature about Haab’s.)

One final thought… It’s easy to make fun of shit like this. Without a doubt, it’s some of the lowest common denominator nonsense you’ll ever see. I mean, people were actually standing in line to see a man sell them surplus dinnerware and $33.14 salad choppers, right? But, with all that said, you’ve got to give these folks a hand. I heard the show’s host, David Venable, and his staff, dealing with folks at the Saturday morning farmers’ market in Depot Town, and they seemed incredibly gracious. And, while I suspect it was stipulated in their contract with the City that they make the occasional mention of Ypsilanti, I don’t think they probably had to go as far overboard as they did in singing our praises. I don’t know that it’ll translate into a massive tidal wave of tourism, but, putting all my cynicism aside for a moment, it felt good when David said he’d consider moving here because of Go Ice Cream (at about the 96-minute mark)… Also, say what you will about this particular niche of the entertainment business, these guys bust their asses and they’re damned good at what they do. How in the fuck anyone could keep up their enthusiasm about a device that cuts food into 1-inch cubes, I’ll never know…

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  1. Edward
    Posted August 27, 2013 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    I can’t believe that no one tried to do anything behind them. I would have loved to have seen the Heavy Metal Bicycle coming down the river on a raft.

  2. josh
    Posted August 27, 2013 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    “I don’t know that it’ll translate into a massive tidal wave of tourism”
    Their average viewer is an 80 year old shut-in with an affinity for sequin and rhinestone sweaters, so I think you’re probably right about that.

  3. Mr. X
    Posted August 27, 2013 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Well, at least they brought in a few hundred people for the taping, and the Visitor and Convention Bureau now has some nice footage of the City which they can re-purpose. I am curious, however, to know how much they paid. The equation changes if they paid the City nothing for the weekend they spend here, camped out in our park.

  4. Dennis
    Posted August 27, 2013 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Fuck you for being so cynical. What you’re calling a fake fly fishing was courtesy of Schultz Outfitters. The moment there is the tiniest bit of good publicity coming out of this town, someone has to shit all over it.

  5. site admin
    Posted August 27, 2013 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Did you read the whole post, Dennis?

  6. Andrew Jason Clock
    Posted August 27, 2013 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Any positive publicity helps, but here are my questions:

    Did this event really do more tourism wise for the city than the fire truck muster that was forced out of the park? Was it worth canceling the fire museum’s biggest fundraiser, a 10+ year tradition for a few hours on QVC?

    Does QVC count as publicity? Do we honestly think that QVC shoppers will now be coming to town to book hotels and spend money?

    Why was it ok to displace the firetruck muster, which had all of the proper paperwork turned in to lease the park months ago? Was there really some sort of a scheduling error, as claimed in, or did somebody get stars in their eyes and tell the firetruck muster to deal with it? Could there be legal ramifications for breach of contract?

    What is it about these out of town events (like this and the color run) that brings out the can do spirit at city hall, when our homegrown events are lucky to have the park turned over to them mowed and with the power working?I mean, is it really ok to turn the park over to Heritage Festival or Beer Fest with the pavilion filthy and reeking of urine, but QVC comes to town and the power-washer comes right out?

    I just think it’s sad that something like this, which we’ll never see or hear from again, gets all stop pulled out ahead of arrival, but events that have been taking place for decades, bringing tourism and commerce for decades, are luck to get a phone call returned.

    And Dennis, Mark’s not the only one who thought the boat and fishermen were fake, I saw that comment a lot on FB. I don’t think its all that well known that we have a word class fly fishing outfitter in Depot Town, and less known that they are out on the river almost daily.

  7. Elf
    Posted August 27, 2013 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    No one has responded about the money yet. Did the city get paid for this? Or did they just give QVC whatever they wanted in exchange for the exposure, like the boy who sold the family cow for magic beans?

  8. Tommy
    Posted August 27, 2013 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    I don’t think its all that well known that we have a word class fly fishing outfitter in Depot Town either. This is especially true when every page on the website (minus the home page) shows ‘Ann Arbor, Mi’ just below the company name. Perhaps making a simple image change would be a way to put Ypsi a bit more front and center. Even the ‘Why Ypsi’ page shows Ann Arbor in the company heading.

  9. Firehouse Musesum?
    Posted August 27, 2013 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    As someone brought up the Firehouse Museum, I have a question. Is that place legit? Maybe I’m just mad because when I took my kid in a few days ago, on one of the few days a year that they’re open, he was told not to touch stuff. “Don’t touch unless you intend to buy” the person said. My sense is that it’s some rich old white guy’s hobby and that he found a way to write it off on his taxes by claiming to be a museum. How many days a year are the open? Six? So no I don’t really mind that they couldn’t have their annual day of shooting off their hoses in the park. I’d rather have the Home Shopping Network.

    Posted August 27, 2013 at 4:53 pm | Permalink


  11. tommy
    Posted August 27, 2013 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    STOP SHITTING ON YPSI ! Now that has the makings of a cool T-shirt if you ask me!

  12. Posted August 27, 2013 at 7:33 pm | Permalink


    I wasn’t there. So, for all I know, there could have been professional fly fisherman in the water, pulling out bass. I was relying on the word of someone I know who was there, in the audience. His sense was that the men in the water were QVC employees, and that they weren’t really fishing. He could be wrong. (He’s been known to have a beer or two.) If you’re telling me that the men in the water were people from the fly fishing shop in Dept Town, and they really were out there, trying to catch fish, I’m sorry. I watch those guys fish all the time, and they appear to really know their stuff, and I didn’t mean to suggest otherwise. They’re an awesome addition to Depot Town and I’m happy to have them. I’m thrilled that we have a local business that makes use of the river. As for me “shitting” on good stuff that happens in the City, I don’t think you know what you’re talking about. If anything, I’m too much of a booster. I do, however, try my best to remain objective. And I feel as though this is something that we should openly discuss as a community. If you don’t like that, I’m sorry.

  13. M
    Posted August 28, 2013 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    My impression is much the same as yours. The Firehouse Museum is a joke. It should also be noted that we allowed him to rip down a number of homes in order to build it. I can’t even change the color of my house in the Historic District, and he was able to level several homes. Those with money make the rules.

  14. Pete Murdock
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Some of you were interested in what the City was paid by QVC for their event.

    Here is a breakdown of the fees and reimbursement that the QVC event paid to the City. Please note that although it was a one day event (August 25) QVC set up four days in advance. Accordingly, they were charged 5 days park rental and capital improvement fees, which were paid up front.
    The total was $10,938.32.

    August 22 – 25, 2013
    Billing Breakdown

    Security Deposit $1,000

    FEES Total
    Application/Utilities $1,750.00
    Park Capital Improvements $1,250.00
    Public Parking/Space Rental $100.00
    Police Services $6,331.68
    Public Services $1,507.24

    Grand Total $10,938.92

    Security Deposit $(1,000.00)
    Up Front Fees ($4,100.00)

    Total Due $6,838.92

  15. Elf
    Posted October 2, 2013 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Thank you, Pete. How does that compare to what the Heritage Festival and Beer Fest pay?

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