Tag Archives: shopping

Detroit: Corktown Bound..

22 May

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Detroit is a city known around the world for its past. We were a manufacturing mecca; we built ships, stoves, war planes, we put the world on wheels. The city gave birth to Motown, Techno. We are known for Coney Island hot dogs, cocktails such as the Hummer and the Last Word. Detroit was a city of inventors, artists and beauty. For a while the lights went out in our bright city but the spirit of Detroit never dimmed. Here we are, reinventing ourselves, again. The world has taken notice, Detroit is on the lips of people across the country and across the oceans. Urban farms, amazing architecture, an international waterfront, award-winning chefs, builders, makers and artists; the past and the future colliding. Downtown is lively again, people crowd the sidewalks on Woodward, something new opens in Midtown every week, restaurants are lined up out the door; it’s hard to keep up. Join us today as we explore some of Corktown’s latest offerings.

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A couple of charming brick buildings reside at the corner of Trumbull and Bagley, it doesn’t seem that long ago an aging market occupied some of the space, the buildings in need of some TLC. Now the buildings have been restored and repurposed, patios host diners, flower boxes mark off the perimeter, pedestrians are a common sight. The Farmer’s Hand is a compact, gourmet grocery store with a busy take-out counter. Fresh food and artisan products are all sourced from Michigan. The space is quaint, like an old-time corner store, here you can purchase fresh produce, regional cheese, wine, healthy snacks, specialty products like Gus & Grey‘s Sweet Jesus Jam or My Funny Clementine Marmalade. Fresh flower bouquets are beautiful, the pastries look delicious, dairy, juice, water and a variety of sodas fill the fridge. I like the old tin ceiling and the way everything mixes together creating a distinct aroma. They serve Hyperion Coffee, grab a latte and sit inside or head to the patio.

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Next door is Mama Coo’s Boutique, I love this shop. It’s kind of hard to describe; vintage, handmade, new, resale, art, themed pieces, all nestled together in one tiny space. Owner Lana Rodriguez was born and raised in southwest Detroit, she’s done a fabulous job hand-picking items and arranging them into eye-catching displays. An antique trunk, old tables and shelves are filled with interesting things; roller skates, canisters, ceramic ash trays, handbags. I’m a fan of old jewelry boxes, I remember when I was growing up how much I liked opening my mom’s jewelry boxes, taking out the pieces and putting them back, arranging them by color or size–costume jewelry of course. Racks of clothing, shoes, hats, knick-knacks, macrame, walls wear for-sale art. Southwest Detroit’s influence shows in Frida Kahlo charms, loteria and Mexican skull art. Every year Lana hosts a Prom dress drive and giveaway for local girls who otherwise would not have access to fancy, special occasion dress. If you have a prom dress, or two or three just sitting in the closet, consider donating them, there are so many girls who would love to have them. Did I mention I bought the cutest pair of hamburger earrings?

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Time to eat. FOLK is an artisanal cafe serving seasonal, made from scratch comfort foods. The restaurant is an extension of The Farmer’s Hand and owned by the same ladies. The restaurant is open until 3:00 pm and serves breakfast and lunch dishes. The corner space is light and airy, lots of white tile, live plants, communal tables, islands and a counter that overlooks the kitchen. We sit in a sunny window and decide quickly what we want to eat. The restaurant is paperless so we are given a number held in a tall metal stand. The yogurt bowl arrives first, turmeric tints the yogurt a pale yellow, a scoop of fruit compote and a helping of chia seeds complete the dish; it’s pretty tasty. The Big Guy is a breakfast sandwich with two eggs, cheese and a thick sausage patty, drizzled with sriracha sauce, served on a soft roll. A little pricey, but good. We are sharing a table with 2 women, one is having the daily special the other some sort of ‘bowl’, everything looks good. When we are finished we take our number to the counter where we are given a total and pay. 

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Over on Michigan Ave we pop into Metropolis Cycles, a full service bike shop. I really like this single-story building, the exterior brick is painted black and surrounds a large expanse of windows. Inside, bikes hang from exposed rafters, walls and stand in neat rows on the wood floor.  Exposed brick, antique wooden doors and potted plants make the shop cozy. Customers browse the selection of bicycles by Bianchi, Surly, Raleigh and Fairdale, lots to choose from.  Accessories are plentiful along with bike shorts, pants and shirts. A guy drops off his bike for a spring tune-up, everybody is anxious to get riding after the long winter. George Gregory is a men’s shop offering clothing and lifestyle goods. The shop is super-attractive, we are greeted by a sign that reads Hello Detroit, a bourbon-something-or-other candle burns on the counter and smells wonderful. Items are laid out in a way that encourages you to wander, pieces range a variety of price points. Khaki’s, casual shirts, swanky hats, shorts, t-shirts and belts share space with evening clothes, ties, shaving accessories and gym bags. The owner has a great eye. Definitely a place to keep in mind next time Kris updates his closet.

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The Happier Camper has an indoor showroom tucked away on Beech Street, a block or so off of Michigan Ave. We don’t camp but curiosity has gotten the best of us and we want to check out the trailers. We receive a warm welcome when we walk in the door, a campground scene is set up before us. A cute little trailer in white and fern green is on display, doors are open for easy access, modular pieces from the camper are laid out on a floor cloth. Happier Camper makes vintage-looking trailers with a modern, modular design. You can configure and reconfigure the modular interior system to suit your needs from camping to hauling to guest quarters; it’s not only cute it’s extremely clever. There’s a large rear hatch that makes loading and unloading a breeze, it can sleep 5 people. You can even upgrade your trailer with a stove top, shower, toilet, awning and 100 watt solar panel.All of the camper parts are made in the US–nice. Out in the loading area we take a peek at a Detroit Tiger’s themed unit, orange and navy blue with a Tiger’s logo. The colorful mural on the wall is pretty cool too. Click on the link above and watch the video on their website, looks like fun doesn’t it?

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Motor City Wine isn’t exactly a new business but it is a nice way to end the day. Part wine shop, part wine bar, live Jazz, DJ’s and a patio make MCW a popular place to hang out. The unassuming exterior gives way to a long bar, surprisingly busy; corks decorate the wall behind the back bar. A hand-written menu tells you today’s selections. In addition to wine they have a pretty good beer list and spirits. Hungry? Snack on Marcona almonds, potato chips, olives or how about a cheese or charcuterie plate? Kris and I order sangria’s at the bar, tables are laid out near the u-shaped retail section, we have this area to ourselves. I sip my sangria as I browse the wine selection from all over the world. You can purchase a bottle and drink it here for an $8 corkage fee. Our glasses are empty, must be time to go home. 

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DETROIT: Cass Corridor, New & Improved !

16 Mar

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It’s hard to keep up with all the new businesses opening up in Detroit; it seems each day there’s another announcement about a soon-to-open bar, restaurant or shop. Today we are taking you to the dreaded Cass Corridor (ok, so it’s not so dreaded anymore) for an up-close look at some of latest additions to the vibrant Midtown neighborhood.

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The Jeep is parked on Cass across the street from our destination, I feed the parking meter, cross the street and duck into Thrift On The Avenue, which shares the building with La Feria. The attractive boutique is well-organized and laid out in an easy-to-shop fashion. The clothing is lovely; formal dresses for women, work and casual wear, button-up shirts for men, slacks, jackets and lots of shoes. Everything is in great condition. Accessories include ties, handbags, scarves and a fun selection of new socks.This resale shop is a great addition to the neighborhood. We exit the front door, round the corner and follow the sign pointing to Galerie Camille. Inside, white walls soar upward to the open ceiling, leftover metal work from the former car wash is also painted white, adding a bit of dimension to the space. The current exhibit is TRANSITIONS, it features the work of two Detroit-based artists: Brian Day and William Harris. Wall space alternates black and white photographs and large paintings, benches invite visitors to stay awhile. Two smaller galleries reside off to the side, each is filled with wonderful artwork in a variety of mediums. Exhibits change often, so stop in frequently.

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Up the street a little is Art Loft, a shop that carries home accents, functional gifts, handmade items from local artists, Michigan goods, high-end items from Alessi, Michael Graves, Philippe Starck, pieces from Cape Town South Africa, art work, watches, tiles and the softest sheets you’ve ever touched. White shelving lines teal walls; colorful, shiny pieces grab my attention, there’s lots to see. Candles, jewelry, room spray and K Bell socks; this is the kind of shop you go to when you are looking for something unique.

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On the other side of Cass, the old Curl Up And Dye salon is now JoyRide Detroit, a group of rotating pop-up shops. Organized by Jennifer Willemsen, she works with start-ups while selling her own Cass Brand Organics. Just inside the door Artsy Fart fills their space with brightly colored animation, apparel art and toys. Next to that, The Sisters Triforia offer curated pieces of jewelry, clothing, both handmade and curated. I like the hand-burned wood earrings. Check out the mixed tapes by local bands. TJ’s Sweet Repeats sells vintage clothing, hats, bags, shoes and jewelry, I’ve always been a fan of old hat boxes, they have them too. Around the corner Purple Love has decked out their space in, well, purple. A slender vanity displays beautiful necklaces and earrings, an open drawer reveals bold statement necklaces, black velvet ‘necks’ wear necklaces of stone, rhinestone and pearls, items are handmade and handpicked.

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We make a quick stop at Shinola’s Midtown dog park on Cass and Canfield, it’s in the 60’s today, perfect for dogs to run around with their playmates. Little dogs congregate in the small yard while Huskies, Retrievers and Shepard’s chase each other in the big yard. Owners are clustered in groups catching up on the latest goings-ons, kids play fetch with their furry friends. Time to eat, we are having lunch at the new Sweet Lorraine’s Fabulous Mac n’ Brewz.

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The 88 seat diner is fabulously kitschy, from the button and tuck booths, to the metallic gold, red and blue vinyl bar stools to the cool vintage black and white Detroit photo plastered to the back wall; you wouldn’t know this was the old Marwill Bookstore. A walk-up counter lines the left side of the space, menus hang across the kitchen wall, now all you have to do is make a decision…. Sweet Lorraine’s is known for her Mac n’ Cheez, in addition to the classic you can choose from more than a dozen combinations. Don’t overlook the Healthy Wraps and Salad Bowls. Did I mention they serve beer and spirits too? So, what’s not to like? We are dining on Pepperoni Pizza Mac: classic Mac with pepperoni, pizza sauce and pepper jack cheese–Delicious! The Malibu Chicken & Bacon Wrap is roasted chicken, bacon, spinach, dried cranberries, tomatoes, cucumbers and ranch dressing all rolled up tight, really good. With so many more combinations to try, we’ll be back.

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We travel up Cass to the Detroit Carhartt Company store just south of 94. Guess what? We’re still in the same parking zone, with time left on the meter, we can park right in front of the store. Carhartt was founded in Detroit in 1889 by Hamilton Carhartt. Hamilton discovered there was a strong need in the market for high quality workwear, specifically for railroad workers; remember at that time our nation was experiencing an industrial boom. His first product was a heavy-duty overall garment, he traveled from town to town visiting railroad yards, introducing them to his garments; he acquired a loyal following and a reputation for durable, rugged apparel. The iconic Carhartt Chore Coat was introduced in 1923 and is largely unchanged to this day.

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The company store is housed in a gorgeous 1928 Art Deco building, local Detroit artists, the Golden Sign Company, painted the mural on the wall facing I-94. Inside, the store is a blend of old and new; reclaimed wood came from houses in Detroit, sepia colored photos are intermixed with current ones. Here traditional items such as the chore coat, overalls, coveralls and work boots share space with casual clothing for men and women, t-shirts and outdoor gear. Carhartt still maintains a Made In The USA line, items are made in Kentucky and Tennessee and can be purchased here or at The Detroit Mercantile Co. The business continues to be run by the 5th generation of the Carhartt family. With all of these new places, you have even more reasons to spend time in Detroit. 

 

 

 

 

 

Vintage In The Metro

5 May

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Spring in the Detroit area can be tough; days can be chilly, windy and rainy, not exactly an invitation to spend time outdoors. Still, we have spent so much time indoors, we are antsy to just get out. Days like this, lunch and a little shopping get our mind off the weather and onto fun things. We are actually more the browsing type, our shopping trips usually lead us to great vintage shops, antique stores and flea markets; lots of looking and every once in a while, a great find we have to bring home.

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Our first stop is Vogue Vintage Surplus, a warehouse-type space on Wolcott St in Ferndale. This is nitty-gritty type shopping; it’s colder in the building than outside, items are everywhere, shelves are full of smaller pieces. An old dryer chair catches my eye as soon as we walk in the door, its sparkly blue vinyl is cool. There are so many things to look at I have to stop and really focus. A true treasures hunter’s emporium, goods are sorted as opposed to displayed, couches, end tables and large landscape scenes are huddled together. Used telephones span the decades from rotary dial to cordless, desks vary in size from single to multiple cubbies. Old trophies, a complete set of china, wacky knick knacks and an old wooden canoe make it fun to look around. The warehouse has everything a home needs, light fixtures, glassware, televisions, stoves and refrigerators; while some of it is antique or vintage other items are simply ‘used’. If you’re looking for a milk can, traffic light, a pair of wooden shoes from Holland a piano or an old radio, you know just where to go!

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Traveling up Woodward into Pleasant Ridge we park behind Vogue Vintage and enter through the back door. Once things have been gone through at the Surplus, the nicest items come here to be sold. Racks of vintage clothing are separated into men’s and women’s sections, pieces are in nice condition, funny how many of the styles are popular again today.

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 The shop has a fabulous array of lighting, everything from table lamps and pole lamps to sconces and hanging fixtures. Furniture and accessories are set up in vignettes, a living room here, a dining room there, all very swanky; it’s sometimes surprising how well mis-matched pieces go together. Along with traditional Mid-Century pieces there is a nice selection of 1960’s and 70’s; you know, shiny chrome, bright colors, bold designs, Lucite and yes, a sofa pit. With the impending arrival of summer, outdoor furniture, a super cool bbq, coolers and bicycles are timely items. From large pieces to small, hats to vintage games, posters to metal wall sculptures, they have an awesome selection. Vogue Vintage is now located at 2747 Hilton Rd Ferndale 48220

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Going shopping and out to lunch go hand in hand, there’s a cute little diner on the east side of Woodward called Mae’s. There’s an open parking spot right out front and no line, good timing by us. From 1959 to 2009 this tiny space operated as Anna’s Coffee Shop, in 2010 Sean and Jessica Mc Carthy re-opened the diner as Mae’s, it is Pleasant Ridge’s oldest restaurant, a bit of a landmark, you might say. There are two unoccupied turquoise and aluminum stools at the counter, we take a seat and begin studying the menu. Serving breakfast and lunch, most of the items are made in-house from scratch; biscuits and gravy, jam, baked goods and pancake batter are all made in the 7-foot wide kitchen, bread comes from Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor, chips are Better Made and the pop is Faygo and Vernors. We have a great view of the goings on; hot food comes through an opening in the kitchen, servers are busy taking orders, running the espresso machine, filling containers with jam, and delivering food. Ours arrives piping hot, the Mexicantown Skillet is two scrambled eggs sitting atop a combination of homefries, sausage, black beans, sautéed onions, jalapenos and pepper jack cheese. A side of 8 grain 3 seed toast and pico de gallo make this dish delicious. The Portland Special is a sandwich made up of Cap’n Crunch breaded chicken tenders (seriously), pepper jack cheese and hot sauce between grilled farm bread, a side of blue cheese dressing and a bag of chips complete the meal, yum! UPDATE Mae’s is now closed for business.

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There’s still more old stuff to see…… Moving on to Royal Oak, we stop in at Lost & Found Vintage; specializing mainly in clothing, the shop is laid out as a great little boutique with men’s items on the lower level and ladies on the upper. Mannequins are dressed in spring outfits, basket-type handbags and pastel scarves polish off the look. Old street signs top off a large wood cabinet that holds accessories and colored bottles. Downstairs a fellow can find everything he needs to be fashionable; denim jackets, plaid sports coats, silky ties and bowling shirts. The space is masculine with trunks, antlers, an old shoe shine chair and stylish hats. Upstairs is definitely girly; skirts, dresses, purses, sandals and hats. Merchandise is all good quality, many items are sure to bring a smile…..or an eye-roll as the case may be.

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Oddfellows Antiques is on 12 Mile in Berkley. The 9,000 sq ft  building was built in the 1920’s for, you guessed it, the Oddfellows. This is one of those antiques stores that divide the building up into smaller dealer spaces, there are nearly 50 here. Opened eight years ago, it is a favorite of locals and has been voted “Best of Hour Magazine” for the last three years. We enter on the lower level; lots of folks seem to have had the same idea as each aisle is busy with shoppers. You never know what you’ll find in a store like this as the variety of items is wide. Kris and I browse slowly through the shop, I see owls are back in vogue, Elvis never went out, glassware is abundant. Dealers sell a little bit of everything; great old tin signs, soda pop memorabilia, beautiful antique mirrors,tools, rugs, even a little bit of Mod from the 70’s. I love all the old glasses, each with its own purpose; juice, water, highball, martini anyone? There are things we remember from our grandparents homes and things our parents had too. All of these things create a link from the past to the present–maybe that’s the real draw, familiarity, fond memories, good times.