Babo, Tiny Buddha Yoga expand brands from Ann Arbor into Ypsilanti

Ypsilanti's Depot Town will welcome two new Ann Arbor transplants next month, when specialty market Babo and Tiny Buddha Yoga move into the former Fantasy Attic costume store.

The new location is expected to open Friday, April 7 at 19 E. Cross St. Sava Lelcaj, owner of Babo as well as Sava's restaurant and other food businesses under the Savco Hospitality brand, says the Ypsi location will serve as a "sanctuary for locals and students seeking health and wellness." Customers can pick up "grab and go" health foods and cold-pressed juices or take a yoga class.

"Tiny Buddha Yoga will have a yoga studio and retail space for yoga gear and clothing, and we'll have a shared meditation space where all are welcome to come and relax and find balance," Lelcaj says.

Lelcaj is the business brains behind five food-related businesses that have so far all been located in Ann Arbor. She says that when Tiny Buddha Yoga owner Risa Gotlib found an ideal studio space in Depot Town, it opened up an opportunity for both businesses.

"It seemed the perfect opportunity for collaboration with this like-minded brand, to build something meaningful together in the heart of Ypsilanti," Lelcaj says.

The announcement of the move has drawn mixed reactions on social media and in the Metro Times, with some expressing concerns that the introduction of the two businesses in Ypsilanti is part of a trend toward gentrification.

Lelcaj isn't commenting on the naysayers. She says she's always evolving her business model and plans to adapt to the Ypsilanti market. She and her employees have been handing out free cold-pressed juices in Depot Town to build excitement for the opening of the businesses.

"This model will be very different from our former market model but will remain tried and true to our health food grab-and-go model," she says. "We are reaching out to the local community about their needs, but really we will learn how to cater to the community because we plan to become a part of the community."

Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.
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