Founded and owned by Greg and Kathie Borders of the Borders family (of the eponymous bookstore chain) in 1995, Wizzywig was a specialty store which sold a variety of products pertaining to Japanese pop culture - including anime, manga, action figures, model kits, video rentals/purchases (of a wide variety of anime), and Japanese snacks and foodstuffs.
Originally operating as an online-only store, it opened its first brick-and-mortar storefront sometime between July and November 1998, in the heart of UofM's central campus. Wizzywigs was instrumental in introducing and popularizing Japanese culture and merchandise in southeast Michigan, and the Washtenaw County area in particular.
Beginning in 1998, Wizzy made yearly appearances in a large number of local and national conventions, including the Ann Arbor Art Fair and Youmacon among others. This development lead to it being recognized as a go-to destination for Japanophiles throughout the Midwest - attracting regular customers from Ohio, Indiana and Illinois (and sometimes much further) during the height of its popularity.
During the anime invasion of North America in the late 1990's and early 2000's, many other big box stores in the area (such as Toys R Us and KB Toys) used WizzyWig as a guide for what to supplement their inventory with - though this was never as varied and nuanced as what could be found at Wizzy's.
Over the course of its history, its location changed a few times.
Originally, it opened as a small boutique located on the top half of the duplex at 1112 S. University Ave, directly upstairs from The Village Apothecary. On May 18th, 2002, during the height of its popularity, it moved its location to a much larger ("megastore") location on Liberty Street (at Maynard Street), the entrance of which is shown in the included photo. Unfortunately, WizzyWigs immense popularity would not last, and on May 6th, 2007, it was forced to move for (what would turn out to be) the final time - this time into a very small strip-mall storefront on State Street, south of the Ann Arbor airport.
This last move took Wizzy far outside the Main Campus area in which it grew and thrived, which combined with the increasing availability of Japanese merchandise in retail stores, and the economic crisis of the late 2000's, led to the store's silent downfall and eventual collapse. To that end, sometime between December 2012 and February 2013, after more than 17 years in business, Wizzywig Collectibles closed its doors for the final time. Its owners originally planned to revert the business back into an online-only venture, but this never panned out as hoped, and the store has gone the way of many other unique small businesses in the area, leaving behind many saddened customers who still remember its heydays fondly. Wizzywig's lasting impression on the local culture cannot be overstated, and will not soon be forgotten.
Locations (all closed):
1112 1/2 S. University Ave, Ann Arbor MI, 48104
Mon-Sat: 11am - 9pm
Sun: 11am - 6pm
529 E. Liberty Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Mon-Sat: 11am - 9pm
Sun: 11am - 6pm
4720 S. State Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48108
Fri-Sat: 12pm - 8pm (6pm in its last 1-2yrs)
Sun: 12pm - 5pm
Store Phone: (734) 213-1112 (local, disconnected)
Shipping Dept. Phone: (734) 222-5166 (international, disconnected)
Shipping Dept. Fax: (734) 222-5167 (disconnected)
Website (shutdown, no response)
Facebook (no longer available, most likely deleted)
Twitter (available, but inactive since June 2011)
Yelp reviews (Liberty St. location)
Yelp reviews (State St. location)
ShopInAnnArbor.com (official listing)