Community | Entrepreneurship | Opinion

Detroit Retail: Something for (not really) Everyone

I LOVE Detroit. I love the revitalized neighborhoods, I love the support of business owners, and I love that this city is making a huge comeback. That said, as new stores open and retail begins to roll back in, I can’t help but notice we are missing the most important consumers: the middle class.

Now there is always a debate about the failing middle class and blah blah blah. This is in no way a political sounding board. But I have already been phased out of Detroit because I didn’t want to pay inflated rent on new loft spaces, since I wasn’t making $200,000 a year. That might be a little extreme; let’s face it, I have student loans to pay. My point is, there are young, successful people that want to live in Detroit, and with rent what it is, it doesn’t make sense to have retail that leaves the millennial wallet… empty.

Maybe I’ve got this all wrong. Perhaps there are plenty of people in Detroit that need a new John Varvatos Short Zip Front Jacket for $1,998. Reasonable and necessary. And how about a Runwell Backpack from Shinola. Only $950. One might need it to get about town on their new Runwell Bicycle. Just $2,950 (IT’S A CRUISER FOR CHRIST’S SAKE)!

I know, I am being cynical. But do you see the issue here? This isn’t for the residents; it’s to drive the upper class in from the burbs to shop and then leave town again. What about the people that actually live in the city and want to shop? Yes, there are some great boutiques – City Bird, Nest (I have written about them before), and all the other fabulous Midtown stores. But what about the big box retail that Detroiters really wish for? Target? Macy’s? When will Detroit be a city good enough for them? Remember when Whole Foods took a huge risk to open and now they looking for a second location? Why aren’t other retailers seeing the promise of this recovering city? Thank you Moosejaw for taking a risk! You are not huge, but you are mighty.

Maybe Detroit is still in its recovery infancy and is too young to even be noticed by retailers. And maybe groceries are more of a necessity, sure. But people need clothes. And shoes. And for the love of God, accessories. But perhaps if we get this conversation started now, we can make a change. Someone wanted a train, and now the city is being torn up. Believe me, more people want a red bullseye.

Lauren McMichael
Lauren McMichael is an advertising account manager at SMZ, where her client list includes Broadway in Detroit and the Detroit Red Wings. Lauren is also a founding member of Detroit Passport to the Arts, which cultivates audiences within the Detroit arts and culture scene. Born and raised in Metro Detroit, Lauren is extremely passionate about the city. Aside from DVoice, Lauren can be found writing on personal blog, Black Tie Optional. Follow her @ellecavmc.