City Bird and Nest
Emily Linn and her brother Andy Linn own two boutiques in Detroit’s Midtown: City Bird, which opened in 2009, and Nest, which debuted in 2011.
City Bird showcases Detroit- and Michigan-themed items produced on site, as well as housewares, accessories, paper goods, cards and jewelry made by more than 200 artists and designers.
“We’ve found that customers, both locals and visitors, really respond to locally themed items,” Emily Linn said. “I think that people are both fascinated with the city’s history and excited by the potential of its future and are eager to celebrate it.”
“We call ourselves the original local culture shop,” manager Ryan Hooper said of Pure Detroit, a collective of three shops and cafes that originally began 15 years ago by an urban planner and architect duo, Shawn Santo and Kevin Borsay. “We are curating the local culture of the city in a retail format.”
Pure Detroit sells hand-screened locally designed T-shirts, Detroit books and food. But the highlight of shopping at Pure Detroit, Hooper said, is the experience of visiting Detroit’s most prominent and architecturally significant buildings.
“Detroit feels so much like an active, thriving city,” said Hooper, adding that people want to celebrate their connection to the city. “I think it’s a blue-collar thing, in the same way that a lot of blue-collar workers in the city take pride in their job, they take pride in their city.”
The Detroit Shoppe
Located in the Somerset Collection, the Detroit Shoppe offers up nostalgic favorites for diehard Detroiters, as well as “expatriates” of the city. Some favorites include seven flavors of Faygo, Vernors, Better Made potato chips and Sanders chocolates.
“Detroit is gritty, urban and tough, yet cool, hip, artistic and industrious,” said Erin Berline, manager of the Detroit Shoppe. “This is being embraced more and more by not only Detroiters, but by people from other states and countries. Detroit is becoming the current ‘it’ city on apparel.”
Rust Belt Shopping Market
Beats thump from an in-house DJ booth, the fragrance of freshly roasted coffee beans dances in the air. It’s just another Saturday morning at Rust Belt Market, Detroit’s newest collective of artisans and collectors.
Opened in 2011 in a defunct 15,000-square-foot Old Navy building, Rust Belt Market is filled with more than 50 Michigan-owned shops, each selling handmade, locally produced or high-quality vintage items (think a brick-and-mortar version of Etsy).
“The Rust Belt is a hub of creativity,” said owner Tiffany Best of her Saturday/Sunday marketplace. “Detroit is jampacked with skilled makers and creative types — many of whom are starting over after the loss of a job but are now successfully and happily self-employed. One of our goals is to help artists make a living at what they are good at and love to do.”