Farewell to Tommy’s

If you spend much time in downtown Kalamazoo, then you may have found Tommy’s Goodie Shoppe. It used to neighbor antique stores and catch crowds venturing around Papa Pete’s and the Blue Dolphin, but the antique shops have since closed.

The little shop told the Kalamazoo Gazette that the move of The People’s Food Co-op probably will have slowed business even more.

Tommy’s Goodie Shoppe will join a long list of businesses to leave downtown. The more ironic part is the shop is all about nastalgia — holding on to what used to be.

Search the shelves of Tommy’s and find Sugar Daddy’s, Mary Janes, bottle caps and penny candy (though no longer for a penny). The fridges are lined with glass Cokes, root beer, and the original Faygo bottles. Signs featuring freckled red heads and pink-cheeked, blue-eyed blond boys may be found drawn in soft colors, drawing memories of Dick and Jane stories.

I used to love to walk into the shop just to look at times past. Admittedly, I grew up on Nerds, Snickers and Butterfinger. But, there is something about connecting the stories of my grandmothers or remembering a line in a “The Bluest Eye” that makes me feel connected to something I never had the chance to experience. There is something about the wax paper and Autumn-colored wrappings that makes me feel warm and old-fashioned.

Tommy’s Good Shoppe is a fun but relaxing walk down someone’s memory that makes me feel like I’m really in the historic place downtown is. It reminds me of how warm the soup at Soup Kettle was and how much I should appreciate that tiny shops that do survive the economy.

Candy, like most good things, doesn’t ever get the appreciation (financially or otherwise) it deserves. Tommy’s isn’t just about old treats. It’s about history, about small business, about Kalamazoo families and preserving something special. Funny thing is, I didn’t know how much it meant to me to have it there until I heard it would me going out of business. And it’s that absentmindedness that has been the downfall of many small business in this dimly-lit state of the marketplace.

But folks, we have until the end of January. So break your piggy bank and treat yourself to Tommy’s. It might just be your last bite.


Shawntai Brown was born with a silver pen. Not really, but her entire life centers around writing. She currently is a copy editor for Booth Newspapers, a playwright (support the eLLe series) and a blogger. Born in 1986, she is a second eldest of four children. She was raised in Detroit under the shelter and protective parenting of her mother (who died when Shawntai was young) and father on the west side. She attended Cass Tech High School and was a participant in City-wide Poets throughout high school. She also did acting. She graduated from Western Michigan University with a degree in creative writing and experience in journalism and Spanish. Having worked for the school paper, she was able to score an internship with the Kalamazoo Gazette right out of college, which then led her to the Grand Rapids Press. Her intern's wages and wonderful co-signer/grandfather afforded her the luxury of living in the plush accommodations of Paragon Properties. And thus the story of this young professional continues. ... 


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