Ann Arboristas: A Community’s Welcome Wagon

Imagine arriving in a new city where everything is unfamiliar. This is where Ann Arboristas steps in, ready to guide you through Ann Arbor’s hidden corners. This concierge service with a local heart was masterminded by two long-time friends and Ann Arbor enthusiasts extraordinaire, Diane Wilson and Nancy Bates.

Ann Arboristas’ beginnings

Diane Wilson and Nancy Bates. Photo provided by Diane Wilson.

Wilson explained that the duo had worked together “35 years before in a business that Nancy owned and knew they wanted to work together again.”

The time was finally right when Wilson retired from managing the Ann Arbor Ice Cube after a 25-year career. Her experience and connections fit well with Bates’ expertise as an artist/designer who has built and sold several custom homes.

Deciding it was time for their “third act,” they now support local businesses by connecting them with Ann Arbor community members primarily through personalized tours for newcomers and running errands for locals.

“We feel we are enriching the community by introducing people to one another,” shared Bates.

Facing challenges head-on

The road hasn’t been without its bumps.

“Reaching our audiences has been hard,” admitted Wilson.

The duo knew they had something special to offer, but getting the word out to their audience – realtors, university staff, and locals – has been a challenge. Yet, they persevere, driven by a belief in their ability to serve and support their community.

Memorable encounters

A memorable example of their impact was an interaction with Kyle Dunaway, University of Michigan’s new Director of Operations and Player Development for the men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs. New to the town and having recently purchased a home, he was unfamiliar with Ann Arbor’s charm.

“…not only did he love the tour, a friendship has developed between the three of us,” Wilson recalled. “He has told us how special the tour was because we introduced him to some of the shop owners which made him feel immediately welcomed in town.”

It’s these connections, these moments of turning a client into a friend, that truly capture the essence of Ann Arboristas.

Discovering Ann Arbor’s hidden gems

For Wilson and Bates, Ann Arbor’s charm lies in its hidden gems.

“We love so many places it is hard to list,” admitted Bates.

Some of their favorites include quaint gift shops like Found and Leyla, the tasty dishes and unique ambiance at York and Casey’s and fresh produce from the Farmers Market and Argus. They know the city inside and out. Their sightseeing tours provide a new perspective as clients experience Ann Arbor through the eyes of two who love it most.

Looking ahead

Diane Wilson, Kyle Dunaway and Nancy Bates. Photo provided by Diane Wilson.

As they look to the future, their vision remains clear – to expand services while keeping the local community at the heart of everything they do.

“We envision a continuing concierge business where we expand our offerings to meet the community’s needs. For instance, if people need a dentist, we give them names of dentists we know are good. The same with handymen, electricians, plumbers. You name it, we have local connections,” Wilson remarked.

Every tour, errand, or connection is a chance to make a newcomer feel like an integral part of Ann Arbor’s vibrant community.

For Wilson and Bates, Ann Arboristas is a labor of love, a way to nurture and celebrate the community they hold dear.

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