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The Top Ten of Detroit’s Most Exciting Retail Deals of 2015

Written by Ben Rosenzweig.

The past few years have been interesting in the Detroit retail world and 2015 was no exception. We saw restaurants, such

as Selden Standard (www.seldenstandard.com) and Wright & Co. (www.wrightdetroit.com), take a good Detroit food culture and transform it into a great, high-profile one. Shinola (www.shinola.com), local makers of handcrafted watches, bicycles, leather goods, and journals, went from a cool, local brand to an internationally recognized, hot brand, and rumors of soon-to-open Nike Stores (www.nike.com) and new Restoration Hardware (www.restorationhardware.com) locations abound.

With so much going on in Detroit, here is our list of the 2015 Top 10 Exciting Retail Deals:

10) Will Leather Goods (www.willleathergoods.com)

One of the great success stories of the Detroit Homecoming program, which saw its second conference this year, is Will Leather Goods, which sells high-end wallets, bags and accessories. WLG was founded by Will Adler, a Detroiter who moved away and built an incredible business but who is now putting money and attention back into the city. Through close work with Midtown Detroit Inc., WLG recently opened a Midtown location, and while this location may not be the expected location in a more affluent area, we believe that it was a wise choice and will draw consumers from all over Southeastern Michigan who will hopefully spend money in other Midtown establishments.

9) Meijer (www.meijer.com)  

Meijer opened in a large development at 8 Mile and Woodward a few years ago with other national brands such as Marshalls, Foot Locker and McDonalds. Aside from exciting the surrounding neighborhoods, this development allowed Meijer to feel comfortable in doubling down in Detroit. They opened a second store in the third quarter of 2015 at McNichols and Grand River on the old Redford High site, which was great news for the households in the area.

8) John Varvatos (www.johnvarvatos.com)

John Varvatos, a designer clothing, accessory and music memorabilia dealer, opened a new store at 1500 Woodward Avenue in Downtown Detroit in 2015. While some may whine and complain that John Varvatos is an unrealistic retailer to be located in Detroit due to the price point of their items, we disagree and believe that like Will Leather Goods, JV will bring new, fresh faces ready to spend money to the area that may not have otherwise venture into Downtown Detroit.

7) Kuzzo’s Chicken & Waffles (www.kuzzoschickenandwaffles.com)

Detroit’s now thriving food culture is primarily located within 7.2 miles of the core of Downtown Detroit. But Ron Bartell, an NFL cornerback who grew up in Detroit, opened his Kuzzo’s Chicken and Waffles location in the old school neighborhood of 7 mile and Livernois, otherwise known as the Fashion Mile, which used to be the premiere area in Detroit for retail. The opening of this 2015 store was well-timed, as big things are coming to that part of town. All one has to do to take note of the area’s growth is to go to Kuzzo’s on a weekend and wait an hour or two to get in.

6) Painting With A Twist (www.paintingwithatwist.com

One of the things that Haters and Naysayers of Detroit often remark is that Downtown Detroit is a Campus for Dan Gilbert, Quicken Loans and its family of companies and that on nights and weekends the place clears out and is a ghost town. Painting with a Twist, a chain of studios offering wine and group painting classes, has moved into Downtown Detroit to prove them wrong. Whether it is for a corporate event or date night, Painting with a Twist is now open in Downtown Detroit on Washington Boulevard and is doing great! *

5) 8 Degrees Plato (www.8degreesplato.com)  

In 2015, 8 Degrees Plato opened a store in the new development at Cass and Peterboro in the Cass Corridor. This craft beer store, a 2nd location to the wildly successful store in Ferndale, is a place where you can get well-curated beer by the bottle, can or growler. There are interesting beer-related items in the store and you can taste some of the beers before you buy them. When this development started, Cass and Peterboro was not a very exciting corner, but with the arena under construction just a few blocks away and residential developments under construction, this corner is heating up quickly. **

4) Carhartt (www.carhartt.com)

Like Will Leather Goods, Carhartt, a retail store that sells affordable work and winter apparel, is a great story of another Michigan-based company investing money back into the City of Detroit. Carhartt opened a new location on Cass in 2015 in a building that has frontage on and a big mural visible from I-94.

3) Bucharest 2 & 3 Grill (www.bucharestgrill.com)

If you are a fan of Shawarma (a Middle Eastern version of the Greek Gyro) in Detroit, it would be difficult to believe you haven’t been to Bucharest Grill. Located next to the Park Bar on the corner of Elizabeth and Park, this shawarma restaurant is a block from the Fillmore, The Fox, Comerica Park and Ford Field. Everyone who frequents downtown has tried their food and last year the owners of Bucharest announced expansions. In 2015, they opened a Michigan Avenue location in the Corktown/Milwaukee Boulevard area of the North End, and they are not stopping there. A fourth location is under construction on Jefferson in the Riverfront and plans for more openings are in the works.

2) Iconic Tattoo (www.iconictattoodetroit.com)

Non-tattooed people give me a funny look when I say, “High-End Tattoo Shop,” but that is just what Iconic Detroit is. Iconic Tattoo, now located in Chinatown Detroit, is a second location for the owner of XS Tattoo in Downtown Rochester. He bought the 1920’s era building, redeveloped it and leased the three other spaces to 8 Degrees Plato, The Detroit Bike Shop and The Peterboro, the much-anticipated Asian-American-themed restaurant soon-to-be-opened by the group who owns The Sugar House, Wright & Co. and Café 78.**

1) Third Man Records (www.thirdmanrecords.com)

For years, there was a story floating around that Jack White of the White Stripes hated the City of Detroit so he moved to Nashville to open his label. That may or may not be true, but Jack has come back to the City of Detroit with a vengeance. Last year he paid the Masonic Temple’s real estate tax bill, which was well over six figures, and in 2015, he opened a Third Man Records store on Canfield on the same hot block as Shinola, Jolly Pumpkin and Willys Detroit. White has also announced that, coming soon, the space will host a vinyl record manufacturing plant. Vinyl has made resurgence as a way to listen to music and White has chosen to bring his vinyl operation to Detroit.

DISCLOSURES:

* Deal brokered by Ben Rosenzweig and Gabi Grossbard of Indigo Centers.

** Deal brokered by Ben Rosenzweig of Indigo Centers.

SOURCES:

The Detroit News, Upscale Restoration Hardware coming to Woodward, August 2, 2015.

Detroit Free Press, Nike store to inject new energy into downtown Detroit, November 18, 2015.

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