Neighbors Come Together to Save the Downtown Ferndale Pony

By, Crystal A. Proxmire


For years children and drunks alike have enjoyed the mechanical pony on the corner of W. 9 Mile Road and the pedestrian walkway leading back to Troy Street.  For only a quarter a rider could indulge in a moment of child-like fun, while also drawing attention to American Pop!, the funky collectibles store that shared the same corner.


But then one day, just as spring was coming and people were starting to once again invest their quarters, the owner of American Pop! Wyll Lewis learned that the childrens ride was being taken away by the building owner and sold.


“Most people thought it belonged to me and American Pop!, but it was really my landlords and he decided he needed the money so he took it and put it on consignment,” Lewis said.  “This is a small local store.  I don’t have a thousand dollars lying around to buy the pony, but it’s been here for ages.  My customers love it, and so do people just walking up and down the street.  It’s one of those special Ferndale things that gets people coming here.”


Concerned neighbors noticed the pony missing and stepped in to help.  Carrie Copeland, who coordinates events at Affirmations Community Center, helped Lewis create a Facebook page to raise interest in the pony’s peril.  Wolfman Mac, the producer and star of Wolfman Mac’s Chiller Drive-In, donated some “Creepy” merchandise and helped set up a fundraising party at American Pop! on Saturday, March 13, 2010.  Lewis made arrangements with the owner of the consignment shop to hold the pony for one week, giving him time to host the fundraiser without fear of loosing the horse beforehand.  The shop was asking $1,200 for the pony, which is valued at $1,500.  But he agreed to let American Pop! buy it for the original seller’s asking price of $800.


Despite the cold rainy weather, over 30 friends and neighbors showed up to give their support.  “I came to show love for my brotha Wolfman Mac here and to help the store keep the pony,” said Detroit based comic book artist Electric Otto.  Otto and other creative types can often be seen around Downtown Ferndale, enjoying eclectic shops like Detroit Comics and American Pop.  “We need to support each other,” Otto said.


The event only raised $200 towards the pony, $100 of which was in Wolfman Mac contributions.  But another couple of neighbors stepped in to make sure that American Pop! got the pony back for good.  Tom and Tiffani Gagne, who frequently shop at the unique gift and collectables shop, surprised Lewis by paying for the pony Saturday morning and having it delivered back to the store.  That pony IS downtown Ferndale - the whole block looked blank without it,” said Tiffani whose young boys have probably put dozens of quarters in the mechanical pony over the years.”


The purchase is a loan that Lewis still have to find a way to pay back.  Although Lewis owns American Pop! he must also work a night job in order to pay the bills and keep the store open.  This isn’t the end of his economic struggles, or those of other businesses in a failing economy, but he can now rest easy knowing the pony is now back in it’s home in front of 175 W. 9 Mile.  “The support from the community was phenomenal,” he said.  “I wish the whole situation had never happened, but it’s good to know that people in Ferndale care about the store – and the pony.”

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