When you visit a place like Detroit, it’s always nice to come back from your journey with a few bits of swag to spread around among your pals. Naturally, you’re going to get something bigger for yourself or those important folks in your life. But here are a few cheapies that will garner grins for whoever picks you up at the airport or fed your cats while they were gone. Trust us: They’ll hug you.
Wearing of the grid
Detroit has an unusual street grid. Downtown is a honeycomb of streets based on the Woodward Plan. Then it's an irregular waffle-iron grid that blunders north by northwest for 20,000 acres before conforming to the four points of the compass. There's no other street grid like it. And it's just the thing to have on a pin or a composition book. Best of all, it's the prewar grid, with nary a freeway to be found. Get it at City Bird, 460 W. Canfield St., Detroit; 313-831-9146.
Declare war on everybody
As our own Lee DeVito pointed out last year, "Detroit vs. Everybody" got a huge co-sign when Eminem adopted it as the title of a track he dropped in 2014, and "apparel featuring the slogan has been repped by guests on the likes of American Idol, The Colbert Report, ESPN, and Nickelodeon." You can drop buy the water bottle for $9.99 at the retail store downtown, at 400 Monroe Ave. #340, Detroit; 313-638-2980.
Gear for the gearhead
The Speedcult brand initially started as a metal fabrication compound, making such bizarre things as a flaming backyard roller coaster, an air-cannon car, and a bicycle that shoots flames. But they also offer men and women apparel, hats, and patches that can be bought through Amazon or at Ferndale's Rust Belt Market, 22801 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 810-441-0956.
Rebel Nell is a store that sells jewelry and accessories made from "fordite." While Fordite, aka "motor agate," initially was a byproduct of painting cars with sprayers, Rebel Nell now collects fordite from graffiti laced streets in metro Detroit. It's then turned into pendants, earrings, rings, and more. It can be found at the Peacock Room, just to name a few.
Have a friend with Polish heritage? Help them celebrate it with a gift from the Polish Art Center in Hamtramck. Their inventory includes art pieces, greeting cards, apparel, and traditional costumes. Each item showcases Polish pride, but a T-shirt that says "You Bet Your Sweet Dupa I'm Polish" will probably win you that smile. Drop in at 9539 Joseph Campau Ave., Hamtramck; 888-619-9771.
The sweet smell of success
Third Man Records in Cass Corridor has lots of stuff, but perhaps the best gag gift is this White Stripes peppermint air freshener. It's only $3, and it really does smell like peppermint. Have a sniff at 441 W. Canfield St., Detroit; 313-209-5205.
The iconic old English D has gone from a baseball signifier to a broader cultural brand, appearing on rear windshields, T-shirts, even as tattoos. But check out these unusual bamboo earrings, which are available on Etsy.com at TheDTheJewelry, and they come in 1-inch, 2-inch, and 3-inch-high sizes.