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Avenue in the Woods

Shop Local this Summer

While shopping online may be easy, you don’t get the same personal service or the ability to develop relationships with small business owners in the community. Mary Rogers, a Realtor ® in Grosse Pointe Farms and co-founder of The Avenue in the Woods recognized the importance of promoting local business and set out to do something about it, just like her father, Dr. Edmund Aubrey, did in 1959.

“My Dad just passed away at the age of 97 ½, and he was one of the original members of the Mack Avenue Businessmen Association, which included all businesses in Grosse Pointe, not just on Mack Avenue,” she says. “They had 400 to 500 members. My father was a dentist, and because there weren’t many businesses on Mack Ave and a lot of vacant land back in the day, he decided to focus on Mack.”

Mary recalls her father and uncles, who were all presidents and vice presidents of the association at some point, holding meetings and going with their wives to large parties. “That association was a big deal, but then the men became elderly, and the association fizzled out.” 

Grosse Pointe Farms - especially Mack Avenue - was left without representation when that happened. “One day, I was showing some clients the map of the different Grosse Pointe areas from The Little Blue Book [business directory],” she says. “I was pointing out the Park, the City, the Shores, and the Farms, and when I went to show them the Woods, it wasn’t there! That was in November 2019, and I remember it like it was yesterday.” 

She was so upset about this omission that she went to City Hall the following Monday and asked why it wasn’t there. After that, she went to the next town council meeting and told them she was starting a new business association to represent the merchants along Mack Avenue in Grosse Pointe Woods. With help from the Chamber of Commerce and co-founder Donna O' Keefe, another Realtor, she formed The Avenue in the Woods LLC in January 2020 and assembled a Board.

“Today, we have 117 members,” says its president, Colleen Dyer. “Our mission statement and purpose is to encourage, promote and advocate for businesses and the business community on Mack Avenue in the City of Grosse Pointe Woods.”

Colleen and many other members were also members of the former association. When Mary and Donna approached them about this new organization, they were all in. “They came to us and said, ‘We want to make things better for Mack, and we want to see more people on Mack. We want the businesses to thrive so the community can thrive.’”

Mack Avenue stretches from Detroit to St. Clair Shores, and even though the business district in Grosse Pointe Woods is only 2.5 miles, it encompasses a myriad of shops and services. Colleen explains that shopping locally also supports your neighbors since many shop owners live in the Grosse Pointe area. (She lives in Grosse Pointe and has her insurance agency on Mack Avenue.) These businesses employ many of your neighbors as well.

In addition to promoting the many businesses along the avenue with its Facebook page, sidewalk sales, and other events, the association beautifies the shopping district to attract more shoppers. “We have these really nice banners we put up on the sidewalk poles, and we just planted flowers around them,” says Mary.

Adds Colleen, “At Christmas time, we wrap the parking meters so shoppers can have two weeks without paying to park.” This year, giant snowflakes will also be hanging from the poles. Funding comes from membership dues, and these monies have also allowed them to hire a social media person recently and pay for the development of its website.

“With The Avenue in the Woods, we actually have a voice now in the city, and people love us.”

For more information, join their Facebook page.