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Author Topic: Imlay City, MI (Store #414)  (Read 712 times)
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« on: April 06, 2016, 11:29:55 AM »

The Ames store where I spent the bulk of my time with the company.

Located just off an exit of I-69 in Imlay City, at the time a town of around 3000 vegetable farmers
located halfway between Flint and the Canadian Border.  I have not been back there in some time,
but I presume that as Metro Detroit continued to sprawl northwards it has grown and developed quite
a bit since then.

The store was in a shopping plaza which at the time contained an IGA supermarket and a couple of
other smaller establishments (Chinese restaurant, dry cleaner, etc.).   It opened on April 14, 1989
(hence making the store number, 414, quite easy to remember). 

I arrived there a few weeks before Grand Opening.   They had hired a manager from Duckwall-ALCO out in Kansas, who was going to relocate up there.  But during his training he made a trip home, and I guess either he or his wife changed their minds about coming.  He resigned and I received a hurried transfer from Hillsdale.

First thing I noticed was that the building was brand new.   A welcome relief after the old Murphy Mart in
Hillsdale with its myriad roof leaks and light switch panels scattered about the building.  We were in the final stages of setup and employee hiring/training when I arrived.   The store was planned to do a shade over $6 million.  We were all shocked that at the end of that first year we had broken $9 million in sales!

Michiganders, it seems, were road warriors, who did not mind driving VERY long distances to go shopping.  Also we were close enough to the border with Canada to get a fair number of those customers, who would shop in the states to avoid the very high GST taxes, and then smuggle their purchases home.

Since we were running a $9 million store on the payroll budget of a $6 million store, we were always short-staffed.  All of us busted our humps that first year, and earned very healthy bonuses (which were all grabbed away from us in the ensuing bankruptcy)

A few months after we opened Ames decided to conduct an experiment with Fashion Forward merchandising, and installed a Gitano Shop in our ladies' department.  I could understand the company wanting to do this, but Imlay City seemed like an odd choice.  We were, after all, fairly rural.

I left the company in '92 because we were expecting our second child, and if I had stayed there at the salary Ames was paying me I would have quite literally qualified for Food Stamps.  So being a responsible husband and father I left for a better paying gig.

Not long afterwards Ames decided to retreat from Michigan and they closed the store.
It became a Tractor Supply Co. location, which it still is today.   One of their nicer ones.  I have
seen it used as the setting for some of their TV ads.
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