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September 03, 2014 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2014-09-03

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w w






2B Wednesday September 3.201 The Statemen

I W dneday Setemer , 214 / Te Sate en

Personal Statement: A prodigal townie
by Brooke Gabriel


hile most students
are asleep at 9 a.m.
on Saturdays, LSA
sophomore Sara
Cusack can often be
found trekking across downtown
Ann Arbor to the weekly Kiwanis
Thrift Sale.
"I don't typically buy my clothes
new, but I put a lot of effort into
finding them," she said. "I like not
knowing what I'm going to get."
Cusack, who buys a majority of
her clothing secondhand, is part
of a wider culture of students
and residents in Ann Arbor who
eschew stores like Urban Outfit-
ters and Pitaya in favor of one-of-
a-kind, often inexpensive, clothing
from thrift and vintage stores,.
Open only on Saturdays from 9
a.m. to noon, Kiwanis, located on
the corner of South 1st Street and
Washington Street, is Cusack's
favorite Ann Arbor thrift store.
Downtown Ann Arbor has two
locally owned vintage shops: Dear
Golden and The Getup. In addi-
tion, it is home to several nearby
thrift stores: Salvation Army,
The Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop,
Kiwanis Thrift Sale, St. Vincent De
Paul Thrift Store and more. Thrift
shopping extends beyond clothing
at Treasure Mart, a home goods
consignment shop in Kerrytown,
and The Ann Arbor Reuse Center,
which carries donated household
items and building materials.
At the Ann Arbor Salvation
Army, located on State Street
across from the University golf
course, store supervisor Jillian
Morey-Greer said the store has a
distinctly different feel than the
fine other Sautheastavn Micbigan
stores she oversees.

"We have a lot of very trendy
individuals that come to this store
in particular," she said. "People
who are very individual, very into
clothes and very trendy."
Morey-Greer said she has
noticed a distinct culture of sec-
ondhand shopping that is unique to
Ann Arbor, a result of the Univer-
sity's influence on the town as well
as the influx ofstudents from other
areas of the country.
"Our shoppers and product is
dependent on the area," she said.
"A lot of people are very into thrift-
ing - and the people who donate
items to the store are the people
who shop here."
LSA junior Sola Muno is an Ann
Arbor native and a regular Salva-
tion Army shopper, although her
faiwrite Ann Arbor thrift store is
the Ann'Arbor PTO Thrift Shop,
which donates all proceeds to Ann
Arbor Public Schools. Muno is also
fashion editor for SHEI Magazine,
the University's student-run fash-
ion magazine.
"I've been thrift shopping at the
same places since as long as I can
remember," she said. "My mom
used to take me to the same stores
when I was little. I would say my
favorites have changed, though,
as Value World was my favorite in
high school. My style has gotten a
lot more polished since beginning
"I love it because it's like
treasure hunting - you never
know what you will find," Muno
explained. "It allows me to take
risks - I don't feel bad spending
three dollars on something that I
love but am not 100 percent sure I
can pull off."
"I like to be green," LSA junior

Amelia Runco said. "It's good to
buy clothes that have already been
used. And it's cool to be wearing
something that not everyone else
Along with Cusack, Runco is a
frequent customer at The Getup,
which is located close to campus on
State Street. Kelly McLeod, shop
owner and lifelong vintage lover,
opened the store in February 2005,
and said the culture of Ann Arbor
is a big part of why the store has
been open for almost 10 years.
"In any college town, you're
going to have people thinking
outside the box and people who
want to shop green," McLeod said.
"You're going to have people who
are funky, artsy, who want some-
thing different. This town really
loves secondhand, reusing, the
green aspect of it, which is really
The Getup specializes in cloth-
ing from the 1940s to the 1970s,
although the store also carries
items from the 1980s and 1990s.
Clothing is purchased from estate
sales or individuals who bring in
items or arrange for an appoint-
ment, and ranges in price from 20
dollars to several hundred dollars.
Students make up nearly half of
"What helps with Ann . Arbor
is that there are so many trans-
plants," McLeod said. "Students
are here from New York, LA,
Seattle, places where vintage is
really big. They expect these sort
of stores."
"It sounds kind of silly, but I
think it's really cool to try and
imagine who used my clothes
before I did, and think about how

end, 2011:
a younger
me in a sassy black
dress and red lipstick
does her best to keep
from shaking as no less
than three grown-ass men
take their day out on her.
I remain calm while I tell them
that tables are moving more slow-
ly than I anticipated, and we are
doing our very best to get them
seated as quickly as possible. I get
my co-hosts to alert managers of
these and other testy guests, and
they take measures to make sure
that they'll be taken care of when
they sit down (a round of drinks
and an appetizer on the house
heals all waiting wounds, we've
found). I review my guest list. I'm
already over on three groups, and
I have another four whose time is
up within the next ten minutes.
It's time to focus.
I get the first three seated in
three, five and seven minutes
respectively, and my managers
make sure that they're brought
food and another apology the sec-
ond they sit down. As for the other
four groups: our charismatic bar-

tender sells one of them on eating
at the bar, I convince another to
try out our "Chef's counter" and
the other two are just five min-
utes past their quoted time, but
they're very understanding - it is
Parents' Weekend, after all.
At this point, I've;been hosting
for a year now, and I am a boss at-
it. I know a camper - a person
who hangs out and "camps" after
settling their bill - from a mile
away, and I can quote waits like,
well, it's my job. I know exactly
which words to use with guests
("absolutely," "sir," "you all")
and, perhaps more importantly,
which not to use ("yeah," "you
guys," "I don't know" and never,
ever "no problem" - that sug-
gests that there could have been
a problem in the first place, and
we don't want to do that, do we?).
Of course, I'm not immune to the
occasional problem - hosting is
really more of an art than a sci-
ence, anyway.
I worked in Ann Arbor restau-
rants because it's in my blood; my
mother and all of my aunts served
at Weber's to put themselves
through school back when they
attended the University. Approxi'.
mately one-third of my cousins

have been employed at The Black
Pearl at some point in time and
others have worked at the Gandy
Dancer, Connor O'Neil's and
NYPD. It seems that working in
the Ann Arbor restaurant scene
is a liminal state that members of
my family must pass through on
the road to adulthood while they
figure their lives out and earn
some saving money.
My time came in the. fall of
2010:I had just moved back home
to Ann Arbor after a very trying
freshman year at DePaul Uni-
versity. DePaul is a good school
with a lot of great things going for
it, but the two of us were simply
not meant to be as a couple. In
all fairness, my first year away
from home wasn't great outside
of DePaul either; I broke up with
my high school sweetheart and a
close friend passed away unex-
pectedly. The trauma from those
two experiences alone made
schoolwork very difficult, and I
knew that in order to do college.
right, I needed to take some time
to recover.
So I came home to Ann Arbor.
It took me a while to realize
that Coming 'back here wasn't
failing or quitting. I was one of

those Ann Arbor kids hell-bent
on escaping from their home-
town, who didn't want to ever get
"stuck" here as so many people
do. I thought that I was some-
how above a townie. And I even
thought that when I took my first
job, that this was just a tempo-
rary stop before I went off back
to school.
I entered my first job at the
now-closed Passport Restaurant
& Lounge like a newborn deer -
wide-eyed, unsteady on my feet
and completely overwhelmed-by
the strange new world around
me. I was so afraid of making mis-
takes, that in an attempt to gather
as much information from a guest
as possible (and thus avoid mak-
ing one), I irritated him to the
point of complaining about me to
a manager. Whoops.
But, slowly but surely, I got my
sea legs. I developed scripts for
greeting, seating, saying good-
bye and learned where to go to
get questions answered. I started
moving forward, deciding to leave
Passport for the more established
Quarter Bistro, and then moving
to Palio to be closer to my apart-
ment downtown. After Palio, I
got my restaurant dream job at

Mani Osteria.
Mani, as far as I'm concerned,
is the Mecca of Ann Arbor restau-
rant gigs. Privately owned, ele-
gant space, killer food... I thrived
there. I arrived at Mani with two
years experience under my belt,
and it wasn't long after I started
that I found myself running the
door and kicking ass at it. It was
also' at Mani that I realized just
how un-stuck I was, both in Ann
Arbor, and in life in general. I
realized that through hard work,
I could move up through the
rankings, go from host to food-
runner, then server, maybe even
manager some day.
Or I could transfer the credits
I'd earned at DePaul somewhere
else and finish my degree. There
was a pretty good school up the
street, after all.
I transferred to the University
in the fall of 2012, and I left the --w
restaurant scene just a year later.
Now, I walk past the places I once
worked at and realize why this
town has the townie following it
does - it changes as you do, and
new doors open when you look for
Brooke Gabriel is an LSA senior.


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