Some cities are full of big-box chains trying to subtly squeeze their way into local neighborhoods and national retailers in local storefronts with a smattering of independently-owned specialty shops rounding out the mix. In Detroit, it's just the opposite. Here you will find a surprising number of independently-owned clothing boutiques, record shops, sneaker stores, rare book stores, home goods stores, and stores of eccentricity. Below are some of the highlights of Detroit's most retail-rich neighborhoods.
With three locations in the Fisher Building, the Guardian Building, and the Renaissance Center
If you really want to show your Detroit, wear it. Pure Detroit first opened in 1998 and has grown into three retail locations along with three cafes (Stella Good Coffee in both the Fisher and the Guardian and the Rowland Café in the Guardian) and a women's specialty store (Vera Jane inside the Fisher). Pure Detroit is more than just a clothing store: it is a lifestyle brand, and it has come to represent the city itself. Their goal is to amp up local culture through concerts, book readings, cultural events, mini-scholarships, event sponsorships, and art exhibits and commissions. Check out one of their retail spots for a collection of Detroit lovers' goods.
Detroit runners finally have a store to call their own. Run Detroit inside Willys Overland Lofts stocks shoes, clothing, and other gear and accessories for runners, and also acts as a community hub for Detroit runners.
The new Shinola store inside Willys Overland Lofts is the flagship store for the recently-launched luxury brand of American-made watches, bikes, and leather and paper goods. The store itself is part retail store, part museum, and part gallery, with a carefully curated collection of other vintage and hand-made items that help tell the Shinola story, as well as a DROUGHT juice cafe serving raw organic juices and healthy snacks.
Global Detroit Human
Global Detroit Human is a clothing design collective located inside the Auburn Building. This boutique sells high-fashion items from a variety of local designers.
Selling housewares, sundries and gift items in the emerging shopping and design district at Cass and Canfield in Midtown, Nest stocks an eclectic mix of items (many locally-made) including linen napkins, dishware, aprons from Detroit Denim Co., soaps, beeswax candles, French glassware, Mrs. Meyers hand and dish soap, and so much more.
Owned by the same siblings who own Nest, City Bird (located right next door to Nest) also offers a variety of gift items and housewares, but all with a distinctly Detroit flair. City Bird is a store, gallery and studio that carries a full line of Detroit-themed housewares, accessories, jewelry, and paper goods designed and manufactured in-house. They also carry items from more than 200 area designers.
As Detroit's original pop-up, Hugh takes its name and inspiration from one Hugh Hefner, paying homage to the classic bachelor pad style of the Mad Men
-era 1960s. Carrying a carefully-selected collection of both new and vintage items (which includes everything from crystal barware to vintage Playboy
magazines and furniture), Hugh elevates Detroit's home décor shopping options to a whole new level.
Better known as the girl next door (to Hugh, that is), Nora – located in the Auburn Building in Midtown next to Hugh, and with a shared owner to the modern man's store – Nora takes a more design-centric approach to its inventory, featuring Scandinavian housewares, Japanese pottery, Detroit jewelry, and more.
Recently relocated to the Auburn Building in Midtown, Source Booksellers has been specializing in niche market nonfiction titles since 1989. Major categories carried in-store include history and culture, health and well-being, books by and about women, and metaphysical and spiritual. They also host readings with authors, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, yoga, and other community events.
Flo Boutique is a lifestyle clothing store for men and women located in the heart of West Willis Village in Midtown. Flo Boutique highlights the Michigan-based designer, but also brings in items from all over the country and world.
If you're into rock star clothing, goth aesthetic, fetish and bondage wear, Halloween costumes and masks, and other items of paraphernalia that fall into the same general category, check out Showtime Detroit on Woodward.
John King Books
John K. King Used & Rare Books is a Detroit institution. It is Michigan's largest used and rare books store, and one of the largest in the country. You can easily spend hours pouring over their tens of thousands of titles. Serious book lovers need to check out their rare book room, filled with roughly 30,000 rare titles (by appointment only).
The Peacock Room
The Peacock Room inside the Park Shelton in Midtown is a wonderful women's boutique that is curated like an art gallery with its excellent collection of clothing, jewelry, and accessories. If you need something to wear to a party or just feel like looking pretty, this is the place to go.
Bob's Classic Kicks
Sneaker heads, meet your house of worship: Bob's Classic Kicks, located on Woodward in Midtown. Candy-colored kicks and hats are displayed like works of art in this loft-like storefront.
The DIA Museum Shop
The Detroit Institute of Arts is certainly one of Detroit's cultural gems. Take a piece of it home from the exquisite museum shop, filled with beautiful art books, Pewabic pottery, hand-blown glass, hand-made jewelry and more.
Michigan Artisans is a collective of artists, designers, and musicians from all over Michigan. Browse their Eastern Market store for a variety of juried art pieces, photography, clothing, records, and collectibles from Michigan artists.
Salt and Cedar
Salt and Cedar is a letterpress studio in Eastern Market that designs and prints booklets, broadsides, invitations, posters, stationary and more. They also lead workshops on traditional and experimental printing, 'zine making, book structures and paper-making and host design lectures, exhibitions, film screenings, and farm-to-table dining events.
The Detroit Mercantile Co.
Part retail store and part de facto
Detroit history museum, the Detroit Mercantile Co. stocks a collection of Detroit memorabilia which includes antique and vintage items as well as concert poster prints from local artists, clothing items from Carhatt, books, bicycle cruisers from Detroit Bicycle Co., records from Beehive Recording Co. It's like a general store of all Detroit goods.
Division Street Boutique
Aptemal Clothing's flagship store Division Street Boutique is located in Eastern Market next to Signal-Return. Aptemal are the makers of the ubiquitous "Detroit Hustles Harder" T-shirts, which you'll also see for sale in booths at all of Detroit's major events.
Another letterpress studio located in Eastern Market (the first of the independent letterpress studios that have recently opened in the city), Signal-Return is a 3,000-square-foot storefront that merges workshops, galleries, exhibition space, archives and retail operations. In addition to posters, prints, and paper goods designed and printed in-house, they also offer a number of different workshops on letterpress printing.
This specialty girlie vintage store in Eastern Market carries items like French cookware, table linens, stemware, vases, home accents, and aromatic candles.
Cyberoptix Tie Lab
The ties at Cyberoptix are, without a doubt, the most unique pieces of neckware you will ever find anywhere. With a design studio in Eastern Market, Cyberoptix has an international client base for their eclectic ties and scarves in designs that include motorcycles, bacon, and kittens with laser beams shooting out of their eyes.
Lo & Behold Records & Books
Stuffed full of records, books, vintage clothing and other items – like soul 45s and Communist papers from the 1930s, just to give you an idea – Lo & Behold is both a retail store and a performance space, bringing in musicians and DJs for in-store shows.
It's a vinyl store. It's a vintage store. It's something of a quintessential Hamtramck store. Find tables and tables and tables of vinyl records surrounded by rack after rack and shelf after shelf of vintage clothing, shoes, hats, and jewelry. They also bring in DJs to play in-store.
Polish Art Center
The Polish Art Center is one of the country's premier emporiums of Polish cultural and traditional goods. The store is chock-full of Polish imports, folk arts and crafts, books, movies, music, cards, food, home goods, keepsakes and memorabilia, religious and military items, apparel, accessories, and a host of Polish Baltic amber items.