AOL PICK from our Editors
If you need it, Metro Detroit’s got it—it’s generally just a question of where. American cities can be notoriously scattershot, but perhaps few more than Detroit, where everything’s almost comically decentralized and impossible to locate. That said, if you're looking to embark on a shopping spree, we recommend the Birmingham area and nearby Troy. Keep reading for our suggestions on the best Detroit shopping.
Neighborhood: Downtown/ Eastern Market
Even if you don’t like to bring home souvenirs, perhaps you should break your own rules for a city like Detroit. I mean, who doesn’t want jaunty handbags made from vintage GM seatbelts? Or a cool T-shirt that says “Enjoy Detroit”? Talk about conversation starters. There are multiple locations of this long-running, locally-owned business; stop in at the flagship, located inside the lobby of the jaw-droppingly beautiful (and colorful) Roaring Twenties relic that is the Guardian Building. After shopping, break at the adjacent Rowland Cafe for a civilized cappuccino and stare at the frescoes and tile work all round you. In here, if even just for a moment, Detroit seems almost perfect.
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Neighborhood: Grosse Pointe
Wade through the ghost-like East Side and you’ll find yourself in the green and pleasant land that is Grosse Pointe. It is actually five separate towns—Park, Grosse Pointe proper, Woods, Farms and Shores. They’re all spectacularly old-school suburbs, all pretty houses, soda fountains and manicured hedges. Oakland County has the flash, but at least for now, Grosse Pointe has plenty of cash, and cache—from the Detroit city line at Alter Road (talk about a firm line in the sand) all the way up to Moross Road, Kercheval Avenue features one quaint shopping strip after another, with expected chains mingling with cute cafes and one-off boutiques. Our favorite stretch by far is The Hill, a classic strip of men’s boutiques, travel agencies, stationery stores and the like.
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Neighborhood: East Side (Detroit)
Inside a vast, Louis Kahn-designed industrial complex once owned by Leona Helmsley, entrepreneurs and artists converge each weekend for one of Detroit’s most interesting, and one of our favorite, scenes. It’s a flea market, it’s an art show, it’s a place to eat. Everyone’s here because the space is cheap: as little as $30 to get a space inside the cavernous market hall. All throughout the complex, creative types keep studio space. It’s fine to wander and see what’s what, though the onsite Russell Gallery in Building 3 is always a sure bet during market hours, with rotating and sometimes quite interesting exhibits. It’s a safe bet you don’t have anything like this place at home, unless home is, say, a faded industrial city in a developing nation.
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Neighborhood: Oakland County
There are a lot of malls in Southeastern Michigan—too many malls, really, considering the state of the regional economy. But none come close to touching the status of this jewel box that sits astride West Big Beaver Road in the nowheresville that is suburban Troy. From Nordstrom to Saks Fifth Avenue, Salvatore Ferragamo and Louis Vuitton, the Somerset feels a little bit like Rodeo Drive in a box—well, Rodeo’s Midwestern cousin, anyway. Sniff 'round Gucci and stop in for salads at the California Pizza Kitchen and marvel at what a difference a few miles from 8 Mile can make.
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With so little shopping within city limits, the suburbs have been more than happy to pick up the slack. Happily, it’s so much more than shopping malls, with the downtowns in Birmingham, Ferndale, the Grosse Pointes and elsewhere pulling double duty as shopping and entertainment districts. In other words, these are not your usual suburbs. Nowhere is that more apparent, perhaps, in a place like Tender, a trendy, Los Angeles-ready concept store that features big brands like Jimmy Choo along with harder-to-find European labels like Lanvin and Jerome Dreyfuss. The majority of the stock here is impossible to find anywhere else in the state; the sales are legend—starting at 50% off.
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