Keeping alumni and friends connected to U-M

Nickels Arcade at 99


  • Larry Gibson - 1966 UM

    Grew-up in A2 and graduated from UM 1966, and ever since, always head for the Arcade to “touch base” with my roots. It’s always there, and the memories…


  • Ramon Garcia - 1957, 1958moexper

    I recall that Boersma Travel occupied the Arcade for many years. One of the travel agents, Bob Lynch, arranged a few vacations for me when I had the money for a little travel. He was a very friendly and competent agent.


  • Kathy Howe

    I have very fond memories of Van Boven’s – my Dad worked there for 40 years. I still have some of their old garment bags. During Art Fair, everyone would stop in there to give Dad their packages to hold onto so they could look around some more.


  • Jim Laramy - 1972

    Prof. William R. Leslie told the story that a fashionable snack at the Betsy Ross in the 1920′s (when he was an undergraduate) consisted of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting with chocolate ice cream covered in chocolate sauce “washed down” with a chocolate malt.


  • Pat McCauley - J.D, 1967

    As a salesman at Van Boven’s Shoes in the Arcade I acquired pleasant memories of selling the shoes of choice — Bass Weejuns __ to a stream of young women who would sail into the store on clouds of what I learned was Estee Lauder’s “Youth Dew”. My wife and I spent some of my earnings upstairs at the Forsythe Gallery, where we bought a sealskin stencil that has hung on our walls ever since.


  • Av Magar - 2001

    The Arcade is an amazing treasure in Ann Arbor, and a great place to be. I own two “start-up” businesses in the upstairs offices of the Arcade and we love it for its location and amazing architecture.

    All of the downstairs shops seem to curate amazing little collections of products, and nothing beats old-fashioned, local customer service. Next time you are visiting Ann Arbor, drop by and see Hank at Van Boven’s, Rich in the shoe store, get a cup of joe at Comet Coffee, and explore the Caravan Shop.


  • Wystan Stevens - 1970

    In 1936, at the pit of the Great Depression, the Farmers and Mechanics Bank merged with the Ann Arbor Savings Bank and the First National Bank of Ann Arbor, to become a single institution named the Ann Arbor Savings and Commercial Bank. This outfit was headquartered in the recently-built (1928) downtown location of the Farmers and Mechanics Bank, at the SE corner of Main and Huron. In 1942, the name was shortened to “Ann Arbor Bank.” (It became Ann Arbor Bank and Trust, c.1972.) The bank’s State Street branch left the Nickels Arcade in the 1950s, moving to commodious new quarters on East Liberty — but the bank is no longer there, either. After many years as an outpost of the First of America corporation, the former Ann Arbor Bank is now a satellite of PNC Bank, of Pittsburgh.


  • Jim Beck - 1961

    As a “towny” I got crew-cuts at the barbershop in the Arcade and worked as a stockboy at Kessel’s during high school. Visits to my sister, who still lives in Ann Arbor, often include a walk thru the Arcade where I tell whomever I am with about the underground passageway between the stores.


  • Mabelle Kirk - 1961

    One of the first things when I arrived as a Freshman in September 1957 was to open an account at the Ann Arbor Bank. At that time the Betsy Ross shop was still there and I believe that the American Red Cross was also located in the Nickels Arcade. South of the Ann Arbor Bank was the smallest Saks Fifth Avenue shop I’ve ever seen, but just perfect for us. The Arcade is still a beautiful and vibrant spot.


  • Rosemary Bodley - 1970

    When I came to the University as a student in 1943, I especially loved the shop just south of the Arcade. The Mary Lee Tea Room??? They served a delicious hot fudge sundae in metal bowls with a metal pitcher of warm chocolate fudge alongside. My friends and I loved to go there because of the atmosphere and of course, the quality of the food that was served. A sweet memory.


  • Dena Stevens - 1992, 1993

    Paused once in the Arcade to admire the print “Vanity” in a store window. After looking at it for about 3 minutes, I accepted that I was too poor to purchase it, so I moved along to my car. When getting on I-94 near Webers to head home, I discovered that a huge roll of steel had broken free from the semi bed that was hauling it. The metal had rolled part-way down the ramp before crashing over on its side in the roadway. The accident had happened 3 minutes before I got to the location. Nickels Arcade saved my life that day.


  • Lauren Hoffman - 2006, 2009

    When I first met the man who would eventually be my husband, we would walk through Nickel’s arcade every day on the way to class and then again on the way home. We walked through the arcade in the summer and blistering cold, burdened with school work, exhausted from the late nights and early mornings required by our rigorous studies. My husband later proposed to me in Nickel’s arcade. I was so embarrassed standing there with him on his knee. And I’m so grateful to have such an indelible landmark to celebrate the very start of this crazy family that has become our lives.


  • Margaret Nelson Anderson - 1970

    My husband (also class of 1970) and I purchased our wedding bands at the jeweler next to Van Bovens. There is a different jewelry retailer in that space now, but I hope it is also helping to make many happy memories for the current generation of students who have fallen in love in “Dear Ann Arbor Town”.


  • Dale Withers Peck - 1960s

    Does anyone remember the sweet man who sold magazines and newspapers at the south entrance to Nickels Arcade? His speech was hard to understand but he was a really nice person. I grew up in AA and loved going through the Arcade, especially stopping to look at the windows in the Caravan Shop. I well remember the “Vanity” print mentioned in another comment.

    Does anyone remember the Blazo’s restaurant that occupied the first storefront on the southwest corner of the Arcade? I used to have lunch there often when attending the UM, or I would go to the Charcoal House between the Arcade and William Street, owned by one of my HS classmates’ family, the Vlisides. I still remember their Charburger hamburger and the combo was called the Charburger Champion.