It's been a belt-tightening kind of year, but, despite the economic turmoil, the indie biz in metro Detroit is still kicking. New stores are opening — many within the supposed retail desert of Detroit itself — and old ones are hanging on with white-knuckled determination. And organizations and individuals are taking action to ensure that local businesses continue to survive and thrive. On a national level, campaigns such as the 3/50 Project, which encourages consumers to redirect $50 of their monthly spending to three locally owned businesses, are helping small shops band together to draw in new customers (more info at the350project.net). Locally, the new website boughtindetroit.com provides a visual diary of items available for purchase within the city limits, thanks to user-uploaded photos. It's a fresh reminder — or maybe an introduction — of the shopping options that exist in the city. So before you begin your holiday shopping, think of three independents you'd miss if they closed up shop, and visit them instead of the mall. If you're not sure where to start:
Detroit Artists Market
4719 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-832-8540; detroitartistsmarket.org
The Detroit Artist's Market annual Art for the Holidays show (pictured) features works by more than 100 local artists, at a variety of prices. Ceramics, photography, jewelry, furniture, purses, ornaments, sculptures and more are in the mix, making it easy to shop for a diverse set of family and friends. Purses made from recycled materials by Magic Bag Lady Michele Kramp will set you back about $150, as will a sleek stool topped with vibrant knit cushions designed by Nicholas Stawinski. Also displayed are the collages of Theresa Peterson, who places retro images of birds, aproned housewives, boxy Cadillacs and various foodstuffs onto found prints to create quirky images (about $50). For Detroitophiles, check out the Detroit Neighborhood print created by Allied Fabrication Systems ($25 unframed). Available in navy blue or orange, the map shows the city as a conglomeration of neighborhoods, from Brightmoor to East English Village, Palmer Woods to Delray. Also up for grabs are fiber works by Car City Couture, jewelry by Sarah Bradstreet, Christmas ornaments (many under $10!), metal sculptures by Tom Crimboli, dolls by Gwen Joy, hand-painted skateboard decks by Kyle Irving and Detroit architectural tiles by Deb LaPratt.
508 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak; 248-548-1065
Open barely a month, Scout offers a seamless array of new and vintage, from offbeat kitchen items and funky home decor to greeting cards, fine art prints and books. The shop's interior is painted a brilliant array of pink, teal and yellow, with items artfully arranged. Offbeat owl figurines from the '70s sit on a table next to plastic owl trays and mugs by Gama-Go. A antique china cabinet houses a selection of Jonathan Adler pottery, including jars adorned with words such as "hate," "joy" and "love" styled after old apothecary containers ($66). A small but well-stocked section is devoted to T-shirts, books, plush animals and other stuff for kids. Also check out the Alex & Chloe line of jewelry, which features acrylic pendants and charms on antique brass chains (most in the $75 range). Other notables include vintage tea cups and saucers, poodle-shaped perfume bottles, owner Pam McLenon's signature "Forever Mick & Keith" artwork and Scout's line of soy candles. Priced from $10 leather cuffs to a $250 blue vintage love seat.
2233 Park Ave., Detroit; 313-350-3705
Hugh is being billed as a "retail happening," a store that opens up with the closing date already set, in this case the end of February. The sleek and sparse storefront sports new and vintage items geared toward the sexy and stylish lifestyle championed by its namesake, Hugh Hefner. So, of course, vintage Playboys are up for grabs ($7 each), as are vintage Champagne glasses and ice buckets, martini shakers, serving trays, vintage matchbooks, whiskey glasses, flasks, and ash trays. Ritzy items include an $89 solid brass flask and a $2,950 sectional sofa, but most of the posh goodies are $50 or less. Located in Detroit's entertainment district near Centaur and the Town Pump Tavern, Hugh offers convenient late-night hours: 4-10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 4-11 p.m. Friday and 1-11 p.m. Saturday.
2124 Pine St., Detroit; 313-964-9008
Rachel's Place opened in Corktown this summer, a resale shop chock-full of vintage clothing, shoes, hats and accessories. Set inside an old home, it's tucked away on an anonymous street. The store's two levels are packed — clothing racks cover every inch not needed for foot traffic. Owner Rachel Leggs has a discerning eye, picking the best men and women's vintage threads in a broad range of sizes, including a large selection of winter coats and dresses. She stocks handbags, leggings, vintage fabric, jewelry and shoes, shoes, shoes. Prices range from just a few bucks to triple digits. Rachel's also offers vintage restorations and alterations, with same-day service usually available. Social networking addicts should search out Rachel's Place on Facebook, fans get up-to-date info on specials and sales, and receive exclusive discounts.
460 W. Canfield St., Detroit; ilovecitybird.com
Thanks to their line of housewares, papers products and jewelry, crafty siblings Emily and Andy Linn have been unofficial spokespeople for Detroit, championing the city with eye-catching designs featuring maps of Detroit and the city skyline. After four years, the City Bird twosome has opened their own store, taking up residence in a 1,100-square-foot space just steps away from the Bureau of Urban Living in Midtown. The location also houses a gallery and studio, and, besides being stocked full of the City Bird products you know and love, the store also features the work of more than 50 local and regional designers, as well as a small section of vintage clothing. Most items fall within the $20 range, while items such as fine art prints can approach the triple-digit mark. If you're not in the market for City Bird's signature Detroit-map soap or plate, check out jewelry by locals Chain Chain Chained, White Owl, Bettula and Yolanda Nichelle, whose D Collection makes fashionable use of the ubiquitous old English D on necklaces, earrings and cufflinks. Other items include T-shirts, scarves, tote bags, greeting cards and dozens of other attractive and affordable gifts. The Linns plan on hosting art exhibits, trunk shows and workshops at the City Bird store soon, so keep an eye on the website for upcoming events.Megan O'Neil is the listings editor for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org