EDITORS IN CHIEF KENNETH IP HANNAH WEINER
ILLUSTRATION AND DESIGN HAYLEY TANASIJEVICH CAILI DALIAN EMILY THOMAS
PHOTOGRAPHY ADAM GLANZMAN ERIN KIRKLAND
WRITING BREANNA DEY ENI MIHILLI KELLY O’CONNOR HANNAH BATES
MARKETING WENDY KU GLIMPSEANNARBOR.COM GLIMPSEANNARBOR.TUMBLR.COM INSTAGRAM @ GLIMPSEANNARBOR
EDITOR’S NOTE ISSUE TWO
This issue, the Glimpse staff focused on people in Ann Arbor who have turned passions into something they can experience every day. So much of the city’s atmosphere is created by impassioned people who have taken a risk and started something of their own: they have made it so that they not only are making a living—they’re making a life. And because we, as a staff, have seen these people entering work every day with a smile, we wanted to understand how they were able to make their dreams possible. Because of the kindness of several important hardworking people, we were able to create this issue: Jim Saborio (the founder and owner of Comet Coffee), Steve and Kimberly from the Creature Conservancy, the violinmaker Zachary Moen, and Jim Kemppainen from Church Street Barbers. -HANNAH WEINER
STORY AND PHOTOS BY ADAM GLANZMAN From his quaint studio of off Main Street in Ann Arbor, you would never guess that violinmaker Zachary Moen once wore a suit and tie to the office instead of the casual work-apron he now dons. Moen replaced his formal work attire when he left his job as a lawyer at a prestigious law firm to become a craft violinmaker. Although he had no previous violinmaking experience, he decided to alter his career, knowing he needed a change of pace. When Moen started playing violin at the age of three, he knew it was something that he wanted to pursue later in life. He remembers visiting various violin shops as a child; that is what “planted the seed” and eventually encouraged him to switch career paths. After graduation, however, Moen pursued law instead of music. He spent some time working as a lawyer in Chicago before starting his own firm in Ann Arbor in the fall of 2009 that represented mainly musicians and artists. He soon realized that he was unsatisfied with his life as a lawyer and didn’t want to continue down a career path that he found unfulfilling. “It’s a big transition from big law firm attorney to violinmaker, they’re completely different things,” Moen said. “Some people think it’s a crazy thing to do. The violinmaking industry became a reality to Moen when he met Gregory Alf, one of the five world-class violinmakers who reside in Ann Arbor. Alf adopted Moen as his apprentice in the summer of 2009 and taught him the ins and outs of violinmaking. “He really had no reason to take in someone off the street with no background whatsoever,” Moen said, looking back on the experience. “I’m lucky he decided to work with me because I’m probably the least qualified candidate that’s ever applied for the job . . . He’s probably only trained two or three other people in his whole career.” Moen explained that he believes Alf took him in partly due to the fact that they got along well and seemed to work together effectively. During the beginning of his apprenticeship Moen continued his private law practice in Ann Arbor with greatly reduced hours to make time for his violin apprenticeship. However, after a short time, the two extremely different occupations became too burdensome to focus on simultaneously. “At some point I withdrew from the law practice, it became too big of a distraction,” he said with a laugh. Moen continues to practice law on a limited basis, working with local start-ups and various members of the Detroit Symphony. 6
Over the few years that Moen apprenticed under Alf, his violinmaking abilities improved dramatically. The process of violinmaking is a painstaking one that involves hundreds of hours of labor and is extremely unforgiving to the slightest of errors. Each handmade violin that Moen creates requires around 200300 hours of labor to produce. Moen addressed the fact that “violinmaking has this mystique to it” — “it’s not magical,” he says, but rather methodical. Moen moved to his current studio — previously, he worked out of Alf ’s shop — about six months ago and has since expanded his business. In addition to the eight to 10 handmade violins that Moen handcrafts and sells each year, he supplements his income by re-selling student violins that he tweaks and improves through recalibration and retouching. This side business not only supplies Moen with a secondary source of income, but it also gives him a chance to interact with the community. “I really enjoy working with the students that come through,” he said. “It reminds me of myself at that age when it was hard to find an instrument that was good enough.” In addition to classical violins, Moen has also started creating one-of-a-kind ukuleles, which he crafts out of reclaimed wood from Detroit. The ukuleles have been very popular, and he receives numerous inquiries about them from people in the community as well as online. “I’ve actually got a whole plan for branding and selling them on a bigger scale,” he explained. “The real barrier to that has been a matter of time.” The violinmaker plans to continue producing handmade violins and hopes to grow his business in the Ann Arbor area. He has even toyed with the idea of bringing in an apprentice of his own. “At some point I think I’d probably owe it to the world to do that because it was given to me,” Moen said. “It’s sort of unfair to then not offer somebody else that opportunity.” What may have seemed originally implausible is now a reality for Moen, who has transformed himself into a successful violinmaker. Although he may seem to be an idealist, Moen stressed the importance of finding a balance between the practical and the pipe dream. “Obviously being an attorney at a big law firm is much more financially lucrative than this will ever be on its best day,” Moen said. “It comes to a point that if you’ve got something you really want to do, you should do it. I tell everyone that, I never want to be old and say boy I wish I had done something else.”
COFFEE IN THE ARCADE Going to Comet Coffee is to recognize familiar faces and to welcome and befriend new ones. Comet provides an environment to think, to read, to write under the same roof in a collectivized room of energy. Everyone is comfortably at home, creating a harmonious sense of community that is relished; a warmth that is specially endearing in wintertime. Sometimes going to Comet Coffee is a relief from the harsh realities of the everyday, to be reassured that there is nothing that a warm cup of coffee cannot solve. And, more preciously, it is also to immerse in a room where great ideas are thought. Going to Comet is, then, to savor not only its coffee, but also to take in its highly contagious mental energy that rejuvenates the mind at any time of the day, or to simply be present amidst such a robust level of intellectual energy that is powerfully breathtaking. One of the first things that is immediately noticeable walking into Comet: its size. Cometâ€™s compactness forges an intimacy that sparks conversation, kindles friendship, and more importantly, reflects the broader dynamics of Ann Arbor. It creates an environment of genuine spontaneity that parallels the laid-back rhythm of our college town, embodying ideas and passions that are greater than its size. Comet is more than a coffee shop, it is also a space that shelters and inspires, as though it is the quintessence of Ann Arbor compressed. Situated in the heart of Nickels Arcade, Comet belongs to a unique neighborhood of independent businesses. Walking down the arcade is to put away work, stress and obligations, and to be within a space where history, individuals, and shops intersect. Next to Comet is a tailor shop, run by a pair of lovely couple who came from China thirteen years ago. And right opposite it is an antique store that never fails to captivate passers-by with its collection of goods of a bygone age. Dimly lit at the evening, it emanates a majestic aura that becomes the beacon of the arcade at night. Drinking a cup of coffee in Comet is to be a part of the Arcade, to feel the energy of this community, and to learn their live stories. Part of the coffee experience in Comet is also to sit on one of its high stools and to look out of the huge window as the Arcade comes to life. There is a magical stillness watching friends, students, and professors walking pass, greeting familiar faces through the window, and catching any tiny moments that are often gone unnoticed in life. I am fond of telling people: Comet is where this magazine begins. Ultimately, being in Comet is to be suspended in not only caffeine, but time, appreciating the fleetingness of life and dearly cherishing the plentiful offerings given to us by Ann Arbor itself.
Interview with Jim Saborio, owner and founder of Comet Coffee So, you were a barista for 20 years before you decided to open Comet. So when you decided to open Comet Coffee, did it come to you like an epiphany, or has it just been a long ways coming? I think I knew when I was 18 that I wanted to own a coffee shop someday. That’s when I started working as a barista. I worked for this guy who was an ex-postal deliverer and I watched him open up his shop and I was really inspired by the work that he put into it. I think I knew it was something I always knew that I wanted to do…Coffee was always something that I never was able to get away from. It was something that kept on popping up in my life. What was the process like -- from an idea to actually making your first cup of coffee for a customer? A lot of the early, putting-together of the idea came with business planning. It was an interesting mix of financials and figuring out how much money you would need to have every month and how much money you would need to be making to break even. Working with spreadsheets but also writing about what it is I planned on selling and how I planned on selling it. The business part was critical not only in finding details but also in finding what was going to be going on at the shop. It was a thoughtful process. The actual building process of the shop was pretty difficult because I felt I was pretty out of my element. I was trying to organize 12
contractors and I did some of the work myself, some of the grunt work, and it was difficult overseeing that project. But it was a good primer for owning that business and realizing that I was in charge of it and if something was going to be done, it was because I was going to do it and no one was going to take care of anything for me. It seems you started a trend for coffee shops in the area -- lab coffee opened in 2011 and then in September, Glassbox opened. Why do you think an authentic coffee experience, much like yours, is a popular business idea? I was really fortunate to be a part of what was called the third wave of specialty coffee. It was kind of a festival of ideas from baristas and people working in coffee across the country. A lot of the discussions and directions that specialty coffee was going to take took their forms online in forums and these were really instrumental in kind of creating the philosophies behind the coffee and how we approach quality in coffee. Tor the most part, a shop like Comet didn’t exist, but I took the ideas that we’ve been collectively working on online and put them into practice and, then, made a shop that I hadn’t seen before but that I wanted to exist. I feel like a lot of the philosophies behind Comet’s approach to coffee were going to be played out in coffee whether Comet opened or not.
I think we were really fortunate to move into the U of M community that was so accepting of us and we found a home for ourselves almost instantly. In terms of changing coffee in Ann Arbor, I feel like it would have happened with or without Comet. The new shops that we see opening up are part of that same trend, and I don’t know if that happened because of Comet or if it was going to happen regardless. What are the best parts of an average day? The worst parts of your day?
The worst parts of my day—it’s not every day, but are equipment failures. If something was leaking in the basement or if the ice machine wasn’t working or there’s something wrong with the air conditioning or we’re having a brown out, that’s definitely the most stressful when we can’t conduct business as usual. In terms of the best part of my day, I would honestly say that coming in in the morning, and catching up with my staff and having that first cup of coffee is always a real treat. And it’s great because, in a lot of ways, that’s what I wanted to bring to Ann Arbor. That coffee experience. That very sensual and sensory-given coffee experience and it’s a nice perk of a job, getting to enjoy that, day in and day out, and always having a new coffee to enjoy and new things to look forward to. What does Ann Arbor offer you that other places don’t? Do you think Comet would have been as successful in other places?
I grew up south of Ann Arbor, in a pretty small town, and when we talked about going downtown, we always talked about going downtown Ann Arbor. So, when I was a young teenager and first was able to drive and kind of explore the world on my own, my friends and I would always go downtown Ann Arbor. To me it was a place of freedom and such a great escape from my small town that I grew up in. I feel that Comet was built by that romantic notion of Ann Arbor. I wanted Comet to be that exotic escape [laughs] and I wanted it to represent the things that really appealed to me about Ann Arbor. Why is Nickels Arcade special to you? What does it represent about Ann Arbor?
When they built Nickels Arcade, the gentleman had seen architecture in Europe and wanted to bring some of that to Ann Arbor. Without a doubt, Nickels Arcade is one of the most stunning pieces of architecture in Ann Arbor. I remember it from my childhood, and I can see this kind of wonderment in peoples’ eyes as they walk through it for the first time, like on a football Saturday, and people are kind of staring up at the skylight kind of dumbfounded and looking around them. But it’s such a magical place, there’s a stillness in the Arcade and a timelessness to it. I feel like the arcade can’t be invaded by some of the uglier development that has reared its face on State St. Almost by definition, it’s kind of stuck back in time and it’s a really magical 13
place to work, whether you’re unlocking the door to the shop in the morning or locking it back up at night, it’s really breathtaking. I can’t imagine having opened Comet anywhere else. Comet Coffee has a particular feel to it -- it feels like it has an old soul from its vintage floors and retro logo. Why was this important to you? A lot of what was there, the retro look of Comet, just comes from the building itself. The square leaded glass above the door was something that I uncovered with a pry bar while we were getting ready to paint and the floor was covered under some really nasty office carpet and it took a lot of scrubbing to get rid of it but that tile was laid at the end of the first World War, it’s 90 plus years old. The spot just had all of that character there. And as I said, I opened it with such a shoestring budget that it just worked and the character of the Arcade just came through. Where do you see Comet Coffee in 5 years? In 10 years? I never think of Comet as being this multistore concept, I could never open a Comet Coffee in some strip mall or something like that. Hopefully, the future will be more of the same. And hopefully we’ll be able to keep what we’re doing fresh in the minds of people as coffee changes. In terms of what I’d like to do in Ann Arbor, I do see the possibility of another shop opening. We’d really like to roast our own coffee. I roasted coffee at home for ten years before I opened Comet up and it was always a plan of mine but it was a bit much to bite off at first. Certainly we’d never have the room to roast coffee in the Arcade with our tiny little shop, but I’d like to see a second shop open in the near future and maybe a roaster after that. What’s something you wish you could tell yourself in 2009, when you were starting the shop?
In a lot of ways, I was really lucky and the bad things that happened to me early on just kind of worked themselves out and it was never this big regret or big crisis that I faced where I felt like I really blundered, so, in that respect, everything has gone well. And the mistakes I’ve made—I learned from them and was able to pull out of them.
The only thing I can really think of is a couple years ago I bought too many rubberbands, so I’ve got this five pound bag of rubberbands in my desk drawer. So I think that’d be it. To tell myself to not buy so many rubberbands. INTRODUCTION BY KENNETH IP INTERVIEW BY HANNAH WEINER PHOTOS BY EMILY THOMAS 14
were even working together to expand and improve the shops. As time went on, their relationship grew and Kort proposed. And Katrina said yes. However, struck with how busy LA traffic was, and how unpleasant the people could be, they decided to sell their current shops, move back to Katrina’s home and open up a new repair shop in a town known for its friendly attitude, welcoming and unique environment, and wonderful people: Ann Arbor, Michigan, and thus: Phone Home Repair was born. Kort had a plethora of new ideas for making this shop even better than those previous, including attention-grabbing Zelda (who seems to be endlessly swarmed with paparazzi), exciting new merchandise (even glass screen protectors for iPhones, which I can personally vouch have saved my iPhone screen twice), keeping puppies to pet in the shop, and friendly service.
A MODERN CINDERELLA TEXT BY ENI MIHILLI
When walking down East Liberty on any given day, it’s hard not to notice a rocking figure in front of a small shop. Her name is Zelda: she’s blonde, poised, and impeccably dressed, usually head to toe in Michigan gear. I first became acquainted with Zelda during a rainy April afternoon, on my way to an interview at this very same iPhone and Samsung repair shop, Phone Home Repair. I had fallen in love with A2 and couldn’t imagine leaving campus, so, on a whim, I applied and was hired for a tech job that the shop had available. On this was when I first met the owners of the shop: an engaged couple by the names of Kort and Katrina. The story of Kort and Katrina is one of a modern fairy tale. Born and raised in California with a business education cultivated in the Northeast, Kort opened up three iPhone repair shops scattered throughout California. Katrina, born and raised in Michigan and studying Musical Theater in California, dropped her glass iPhone and cracked the screen. And so Katrina went to fix her phone in one of Kort’s shops, only to be struck by how wonderfully they clicked when he replaced the shattered glass on her iPhone screen. And of course, as all of Cinderella’s friends had told her she wasn’t taking enough risks in life, Katrina’s friends had done the same, so she decided to risk leaving her phone number with the charming Kort. And so, luckily for Kort, and the amenities of the 21st century, he didn’t need to search the LA kingdom for his princess. After a few days of anticipation, he called the number that the cracked glass had made available to him, and Kort and Katrina had a first date, which led to a second, and many, many more to follow. Kort and Katrina’s personalities fit perfectly together, and before they knew it, they 16
Any person who has received service from Kort and Katrina would undoubtedly agree that no two people work harder to try to make other people happy. Kort and Katrina worked endlessly all summer alongside me when their shop first opened. They were there all day, and when they went home, they continued working. As I gained more experience, they were able to work less in the shop and more at home, and the days when I manned the shop, I honestly felt guilty to call them in to help me when it got busy, because they never got a break. And all of their work was entirely dedicated to people. They’ve bent over backwards in way more than one instance when the customer was even remotely dissatisfied in order to make them happy. Not only that, but they were also incredibly understanding and comfortable to work around; there was never a moment that I didn’t enjoy their presence. They treated and continue to treat me, and the employee they later hired, Johnny, as more than employees. They treat us as friends. Just the other day, Katrina asked me if I wanted an extra blender that they had. Working with Kort and Katrina has been an amazing experience: it has taught me more about business than Econ 101 or 102 ever did. Business shouldn’t be about money, as we see all too often in the industry. Business is about satisfying your customer, and feeling satisfied that you made someone happy that day. Something that I’ll never get tired of experiencing: seeing someone’s face light up when their iPhone, which was previously shattered into a million pieces, is now restored to its former glory. And more telling than anything about the value of this little phone repair shop is the fact that I want to see it succeed. I’ve been employed from the age of 14 until the present day, and never have I rooted for an employer with the same amount of vigor or intensity. Kort and Katrina tied the knot on February 8th of 2014 and, for their modern fairy tale, I can foresee nothing but a happy ending. The cracked glass on an iPhone screen was the slipper through which they found each other from half-way across the country, and started an amazing little shop to fix phones and make others happy. People come and go in Ann Arbor, but I think this little shop will stick around, and I wish them nothing but the best. So next time you walk down East Liberty, say hi to Zelda. Who knows? Maybe she’ll invite you in.
ACCORDING TO SCRIPT TEXT BY HANNAH BATES
She clocks in using the last four digits of her social security number and ties her apron around her slender waist with a double knot. Rumors buzz around the restaurant among the tired servers that they are overdue for a secret shop – the conspicuous type customer who tallies steps missed and points lost. “I will be your server tonight,” She averts her eyes from the portly couple at the small square table, bearing a streak of hot sauce on its edge that she forgot to wipe up. “We have coke products, iced tea, lemonade and twenty beers on tap.” She racks her brain for the night’s specials. They are gazing at her, wide-eyed and eager for her to forget to offer cheese or bacon on their regular order of potato wedges so they can whine to corporate and mar the store’s perfect reputation of great service and greater sales. A single chicken wing rolls off of the plate and onto the table. Barbeque is blotted with gray paper napkins as she apologizes, her eyes darting from the couple to the wing, back to the couple to gauge whether or not the wing will affect her score. A manager swoops in to rescue her by promising a fresh batch in mere minutes. She watches their plump faces contort into grins and the smooth way they lean back into their chairs with crossed arms. “Does everything taste okay?” According to the script. The couple nods in unison while tearing chicken off the bone with their teeth. As they put on their coats and started out the door, the host encourages them to come back some time, “Enjoy the rest of your night,” he says brightly. She is starting to clear the dirty dishes and bunched up wet-naps off the table when she realizes she forgot to offer chocolate fudge cake.
THE CREATURE CONSERVANCY STORY BY HANNAH WEINER ILLUSTRATION BY HAYLEY TANASIJEVICH
In Ann Arbor, there’s a jungle. A wilderness. And it has kangaroos and pythons, coyotes and porcupines, armadillos and alligators. This wildlife lives beneath green roofs in the winter (besides for the arctic foxes, the peacocks, and the rabbits). Where you see Ignatius, you’ll probably see Stubby—the iguana that was found wandering loose on the Diag. When you pass Cindy (the possum) you’ll soon see Pete (the skunk). Prairie dogs, vultures and alligator snapping turtles alike all live in the same massive room, listening to the macaws squawk and the black swans yell, sounding like bass clarinets. The green roofs that house these beautiful creatures are within a 20acre span, right on the cusp of the cities of Ann Arbor and Saline. Once you pass the veterinary hospital and the dog kennel (where a sloth lies lazily in the window), the Creature Conservancy comes to life, presenting itself before you—a pearl amidst the snowy farm fields. *** Kimberly Ellis greets me at the door, welcoming me in along with the birds, the scent of fruit, and the stench of not¬-fruit. She’s worked at the Creature Conservancy for a few years, starting as a volunteer and, now, working for the Conservancy 40 hours a week. The Conservancy operates on about 250 volunteer hours per week. “My kids were telling me, ‘Mom, you’ve gotta work at that animal place,” Kim recalls, turning around to flash a smile. “So I did. And now I’m here.” 18
She brings me to see the reptiles first, stopping at each window to see Bernese pythons, ball pythons, three-pound bullfrogs, chameleons, and iguanas. That’s where I see Ignatius and Stubby. From there, we head outdoors, stopping by the kangaroos on the way. She shows me the major renovations the Conservancy has in store, including a walk able pier for summer-time groups to view the alligator… Alligator? We walk into a balmier room, where I am suddenly standing atop Al, the alligator. *** In late summer of 2005, someone abandoned a 10-pound alligator, contained in a wooden crate, at the door of Animal Kingdom Veterinary Hospital. Thankfully, Steve Marsh was there. Nearby rescue organizations weren’t properly equipped for Al, releasing him into a swamp would have been a mistake, and local zoos didn’t want or have space for the animal. So, in came the ideas to give Al, the alligator, a good home. Alongside some other rescued animals (a macaw, ball pythons, the iguanas, and a sloth), these animals not only became happy and well fed—they became teachers, too. And Steve, in all of his self-proclaimed “stealthy tree-hugger” wisdom, became the head curator of The Creature Conservancy. “If I tell you what to do or how to behave,” Steve explained, “the first thing you’re going to do is shut down. But, if I help you to discover how cool that possum is, you’re going to be a little less likely to aim for the possum crossing the road—you’re going to be the kid who avoids hitting the possum that crosses the road.”
Steve has always been that kid: the one who isn’t ashamed to understand and passionately care for animals and the one who, mid-interview, unflinchingly brought out blue death-feigning beetles onto his desk to display their brilliance. His idea behind the Creature Conservancy: to bring humans closer to animals so they can “discover how interesting these animals are and appreciate them.”
hundred pounds per square inch (enough to bite your finger off), they’re territorial birds, and they’re not good pets, like most of the animals at the Creature Conservancy.
It’s pretty simple.
Thankfully, there are people like Kim, who know precisely where each animal likes to be pet. She can trace back to the moment where Miehiera’s the arctic fox, grudge against Kim started. And she can let the coyotes, Cooper and Piper, loose without fear of harm. She doesn’t blink or show hesitation. She trusts them and, in return, the animals trust her. Her passion for animals—for compassion—has turned into an everyday job. That’s why she knows where to rub, how to talk, how to walk, and, generally, what to do.
But that simple idea goes a long way. Creature Conservancy, since Al’s rescue, has established itself as a safe haven for exotic and rescued animals in the general area, as well as an educational space for humans. It’s brought in more than 30 animals, and countless groups of school field trips, birthday parties, and summer camps. They rescue animals in the area and set up a healthy home for the animals to live and, also, work as educators at the same time. “We’re not going to change the world,” Steve said. “We’re just going to tweak a few people.”
As she shows me more and more animals, I’m not only entranced by the beauty and elegance of the wildlife, but also incredibly appalled by some humans’ negligence.
Is that because of Ann Arbor? In spite of Ann Arbor?
“We totally distance ourselves from nature and animals…to the point where we demonize them and they’re viewed as items.”
Perhaps in other places, Ignatius and Stubby would go un-rescued and the alligator would never leave his crate. Perhaps in other places, people like Kim wouldn’t come to volunteer. And perhaps in other places, summer camps wouldn’t exist at a place like Creature Conservancy.
That’s where the Creature Conservancy comes in—not only helping animals who have fallen victim to uneducated owners, but also preventing future ignorance.
But other places don’t have Kim or Steve or the Creature Conservancy because, thankfully for Al and the other gorgeous creatures that thrive in the Conservancy, Ann Arbor has them.
In our everyday lives filled with sterile plastic, perfected concrete, and shiny metal, Steve sees a danger.
*** Kim takes me into the largest room, where we pass by an alligator snapping turtle and stop by the macaws. She tells me all kinds of things about the birds: their bite pressure can be up to several 19
TEXT BY KELLY O’CONNOR “That used to be a bookstore.” “That place there, that was the best place to get bagels.” “Remember how we always used to get our wine from there? It was so cheap!” My parents smile, reminiscing about their days at Michigan—before there was a CVS and a Walgreens and a 7-11 all on one block. Now the streets are filled with the commercialized stores Ann Arborlovers never thought they would see. But for the ten restaurants in Ann Arbor that everyone in the world knows, there’s another twenty no one else has. Something just for Ann Arbor. There are still glimpses of the places my parents love to recall. And their beloved Charley’s still stands strong. “We used to sneak in that way—through the back.” “Remember that time—” “I know exactly what you’re going to say.” The brick-filled roads of Kerrytown still have stories to tell. Bookstores pop up in an effort to fight against Amazon and gives writers a place to share their stories. Rick’s was and always will be a dirty basement. No one steps on the ‘M’ in the diag. The UGLi is still ugly. The Blind Pig still holds obscure concerts. CVS can’t take away these stories; the places you can find in any city, any place are not what make Ann Arbor. They don’t make the stories. When I come back someday with my kids, I won’t tell them about the convenience stores or the chain restaurants. I’ll tell them about the traditions of Ann Arbor — traditions that not only include football Saturdays, but also unknown coffee shops and musicians on the sidewalks. I’ll giggle when they ask what a fishbowl is. I’ll show them the graffiti in the alley. I’ll take them to a show at the Michigan Theatre. When you look at Ann Arbor, you don’t see the big businesses. You see what makes Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor.
GRAND OPENING TEXT BY BREANNA DEY
My hands won’t stay still. They whirl around: straightening, smoothing, organizing. I slide my hand over the wooden countertops again, sweeping away crumbs that haven’t fallen yet. I’ve already cleaned the front windows twice, but I’ve been staring through them at the people walking by so long that I reach for the rag and spray bottle on a lower shelf under the shining, silver cash register. “Cupcakes?” my father had asked me incredulously across the dinner table of my childhood home, the same day I stormed out of my office building with a small cardboard box of my things. “You want to make a living on cupcakes?” “Sort of, Dad. But there’s more to it than that. I’m moving out of the city and back here to Ann Arbor where small business is appreciated. I’ll open up a little shop downtown or maybe in Kerrytown. Somewhere people can wander in off the streets and find something delicious before continuing on with their busy days. It won’t be anything big at first, but it could grow.” Explaining my plans to my parents, my mind exploded with ideas and expectations. I could start a business. Me. Hugging myself, I added, “I could bake some of Grandma’s recipes.” With the mention of his mother, my dad softened. With moisture filling his eyes he looked away, and I shifted my attention to my mom. She was wringing her hands in worry. “Well, it will be wonderful to have you back home,” she said. “But do you really think you can support yourself with a small business?”
It’s achingly quiet. The silence settles in my ears. I’m alone in the main room. I’ve only hired two people to help me so far, and they are still in the back, mixing batter, sprinkling sugar, pulling trays from the large ovens. We’ve been here since four this morning, baking excitedly. We have some of the traditional recipes, but we also created some of our own. Will customers like them? I run through the list of names we assigned to each of our recipes, the menu memorized, the seconds barely passing. Nothing moves in the store but the hands of my watch. Should I have hired more people? Maybe I should have filled the store with staff so customers felt more welcome. I have to do something, so I shift behind the glass cases filled with baked goods. As I slide the back panel aside, the sweet scent of the treats fills me, and I am taken back to my grandma’s kitchen, wearing her apron that was so long on me that it grazed the floor, her flour-covered hands guiding mine as we baked together. I readjust the display of desserts. It’s time. I move to the door and flip the sign so it says, “We’re Open!” Then I return to the cash register. Nothing happens. What if no one comes in? What if we don’t have a single customer? How will I tell my parents or my friends? What will I do next? Will I have to return to my boring, passionless office job? I can’t do that. The tinkle of the bell over the door drags me from my doubts. A man walks into the bakery, and my face forms a full, true smile. “Hello, sir. What can I get for you?”
The glass squeaks under my circling hand. On the other side, faces rush by. They all seem in a hurry. How many glance at the store? Do they notice the banner broadcasting our first day of business? I look at all of their eyes, trying to learn about them in the moment before they disappear down the sidewalk. A small woman with dark curls framing her round cheeks waves at me through the window, and I smile and wave enthusiastically back. Once she is around the corner, I check my watch again. Only ten minutes until open, so I move back behind the main counter. I untie and retie my small, white apron. 23
PHOTOS BY ERIN KIRKLAND Many envision a work-free retirement. Not Jim Kemppainen. Instead, Jim spends his days running the barber shop nestled between Dollar Bill and Backroom formally known as Church Street Barbers. When his exwife wanted to go back to work in 1980, Jim--a former truck driver and Vietnam veteran--found that his former partner Dave was looking for a helping hand in running the shop. Not long after, Jim fell into full ownership. But it was the perfect way to combine work with looking after his daughter Ericka. She, too, became part of the shop’s decoration. When she wasn’t in school, she’d sit in the same bluish-green chairs that still line the walls and practice her violin. Now, the shop is serenaded by WCBN, the student radio station. While I’m there, a soundtrack from an old western illuminates the background, further lulling the shop back into it’s encapsulated state. Time seems to stop here. Three light-blue barber chairs dot the front shop. They, like most things found in the shop, are the originals. On this Saturday customers consistently flow in and out. They range from a young student donning Greek letters on his sweatshirt to RC and SAC Professor Hubert Cohen. For now, Jim doesn’t plan on retiring from his retirement. “I just take it one day at a time. I’ll do what I can as long as I can,” he said.
Glimpse Magazine Issue Two // Ann Arbor, MI