Arts & Culture » Culture

Corktown shop dispenses character

As a matter of artifact

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Michigan Avenue in Corktown has certainly seen a remarkable revival. Sure, maybe Slow's Bar BQ started it, but a slew of other businesses are keeping the momentum going. There's Sugar House, Astro Coffee, Gold Cash Gold, El Dorado General Store — we could go on. And now there's a new shop on the block that's making the district even more of a destination.

Detroit Artifactry, located across the street from the businesses mentioned above, is owned by Gail Kaye, and the proprietress happens to be the mother of Sugar House and Wright & Co. owner Dave Kwiatkowski. The love of Detroit runs in the family.

Kaye says she scours flea markets and estate sales and works with pickers, sellers, and artisans to keep her store stocked with everything from vintage test tube sets to brightly colored pillows to industrial lighting to fringey leather bags to rusty oil cans to mink stoles. Not everything is vintage or antique, but most things are. New items in stock include Detroit-centric books, greeting cards, and posters, delicious smelling Michigan-made candles from Farm House Candle Co., and unique jewelry made with chunky chains and old coins, embossed leather cuffs, and shiny gems.

The store is stocked with one-of-a-kind items, and Kaye says she's constantly working to keep up inventory, noting that shoppers essentially clear out the place every Saturday. That makes each trip a new experience, but means you've only got one chance to buy those life-changing solid silver sconces. They probably won't be in stock tomorrow.

With thousands of items — some huge, some tiny — you can mill around Detroit Artifactry for hours. On the first lap you'll notice the obvious (a set of mustard yellow '70s-style lobby chairs, a large Coca-Cola sign, some marquee lights), and on subsequent go-arounds you'll notice the smaller things (a whale-shaped bottle opener, a vintage Big Boy figurine, a bin of woven rugs). And the next time you stop in, there will be a whole new stock of Detroit artifacts to ogle.

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