Best of Detroit 2012
Real Deal - Staff Picks
Our staff picks for retail in Metro Detroit
Published: April 25, 2012
Under a New Name
R. Hirt Jr.'s retail store
2468 Market St., Detroit;
Longtime patrons of Detroit's Eastern Market got a good scare last year with the announcement that the venerable R. Hirt Jr. company, founded in 1887 and run by four generations of the same family, was closing its doors. As it turned out, fortunately for fans of the vendor of specialty goods, the store was actually closing for a mild renovation, passing back into the hands of another Hirt descendant, the man who ran it until recently, David DeVries. The renovations and renaming were to be done by March, but it seems early May is a more likely opening date. DeVries tells people, "The business is 124 years old; if we have to take a few months off, I think they'll understand." We're still hazy on what the renamed venture will be called, but the old-fashioned charm should remain, with a few updates. One wag in the know joked that "the store will be 'modernized' — from an 1891 format closer to a 1912 format."
Best Place to Record
Shop on Foot
Crate-diggers, rejoice! Hamtramck has a clutch of three excellent record shops within walking distance of one another. On Caniff, there's Record Graveyard (2926 Caniff St.; 313-870-9647; 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday), which crams in a pretty comprehensive selection of rock, pop and jazz, as well as old show tunes, comedy, spoken word and soundtracks. They're in the midst of an incredible vinyl sale to help them sell off stock and move to a smaller space. Don't overlook the back room, which has thousands of 45 RPM singles worth digging through for gems. Just around the corner is Detroit Threads (10238 Joseph Campau; 313-872-1777; detroitthreadsstore.com; 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday, closed Sundays), Mikel Smith's venerable store, which has been in Hamtramck for a dozen years now, selling a quirky selection of clothes, memorabilia, and around 50,000 records, give or take a few thousand. Finally, just down the street, is a new entry from vinyl-hound Richie Wohlfiel, Lo & Behold Records & Books (10022 Joseph Campau; 734-664-1186; noon-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday), selling old mags, art, clothes, but transitioning more into records and books. In fact, the store recently acquired most of WJZZ's jazz library, more than 108 milk crates' worth of records. Bargain-friendly and willing to trade, Wohlfiel would rather sell to locals for less than score big on eBay.
Best Audio Store
David Michael Audio
4341 Delemere, Royal Oak; 586-244-8479; davidmichaelaudio.com
Famous punk rocker Henry Rollins said, "People can hurl any epithet they want about the snobbishness they think audiophiles retain. Let them drink their wine from boxes. The sound of my Bob Ludwig-mastered pressing of Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy coming through my system cuts through their contempt like Toshiro Mifune's katana blade!" True that. The best, most interesting way in this area to discover, or at least sweeten, your hankering for great recorded sound is through the two gents at David Michael Audio. They're a nonjudgmental pair who can easily set you up with a system that'll tap your mind, on pretty much any size investment you are willing to make. If you want to just come in and listen, that's cool too. Sometimes they even have LP events in which a whole album is listened to without interruption through what will be the finest playback system you've ever heard. They carry everything from Rega to Harbeth, from Luxman to Magico. Hours vary, so please call ahead.
Best Folks to Get Out
that Damn Spot
26051 Dequindre Rd., Madison Heights;
Let's say you're clumsy enough to kick over a cup of coffee on the floor and dense enough to not notice that some of the coffee splashed into vertical fabric blinds ... like dense enough to not notice for a week. Let's say you frantically begin calling blinds shops for help. Not a service we found. Well, hope you're lucky enough to be thereby directed to Chet's, an outfit that's been saving folks like you since 1986. We can't vouch for their full array of services, which range from marble to upholstery cleaning and something called "wood floor enhancement" as an alternative to refinishing. Our Internet searching finds high praise for quality and some bitching about price, and since Chet's includes some get-what-you-pay-for references on its website testimonials page, they're clearly not marketing themselves as a budget service. We can report that Chet saved our blinds and butt — and on a rush job in time for a house full of guests for Thanksgiving dinner. And we didn't even worry about drunks spilling their drinks.
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