Best of Detroit 2012
Real Deal - Staff Picks
Our staff picks for retail in Metro Detroit
Published: April 25, 2012
Best Way to Soap
up Your Skin
This local purveyor of bath and body products creates luxury items free of harsh additives and unnatural ingredients. Instead, DressGreen uses high-quality, natural ingredients and essential oils that clean, moisturize and leave your skin as fresh as a newborn's. Along with your basic bar soaps, DressGreen products include body creams, lip balms, perfumes, eye cream, facial masks and shaving soaps. Especially luxurious are the shampoo bars, which cleanse hair without removing essential oils — meaning your hair is as shiny and soft as the chick's in a shampoo commercial, but without the unhealthy and environmentally unfriendly chemicals. Products come in a variety of pleasing scents, including pomegranate juice, coconut milk, mint vanilla and lemon sugar, and arrive at your door in pretty, recyclable packages tied with a bow. DressGreen products are available at City Bird in Midtown, but for the full line of items, see the website.
Best Retail Change Over
460 W. Canfield, Detroit; 313-831-9776; nestdetroit.com
If you're anything like us, you were saddened when Midtown's Bureau of Urban Living permanently closed up shop. Not only were we going to miss browsing the shop's diverse mix of home accessories, but also because we couldn't imagine walking in to the space and not seeing proprietor Claire Nelson behind the counter offering a friendly smile and the latest neighborhood scuttlebutt. But the melancholy was short-lived thanks to the quick remake of the spot into a new home goods store, Nest. Operated by the Linn siblings, who also own City Bird (Nest's next-door neighbor), the store offers a range of products sure to add comfort or flair to any urban dwelling. Sweet-smelling soy candles, eye-catching terrariums, stationery, art prints, bar accessories, mixing bowls, soaps and a wide range of other items, decorative, functional and, oftentimes, both. Many products are from Michigan manufacturers or independent and family-owned companies, and the beautiful shelves displaying much of the merch were salvaged from Cass Tech.
Best Retro Store with Retro Soundtrack
23700 Woodward Ave., Pleasant Ridge; 248-414-7440
126 E. 14 Mile Rd., Clawson; 248-589-0500; regenerationclothing.org
The staff at Regeneration can be pretty tough, but not on their prices — a win-win, pretty much. Sure, they didn't want my dad's polyester button-up with its gaudily accentuated collar, or his tar-spotted pair of holey Levi's, but that's because they only let the best stuff out on their floor. Beyond fair prices and fairly cozy respite from the disturbing drone of megamalls and fried-food-flinging Target stores, one can be coaxed into loitering here extensively by the charm of the store's homespun soundtrack. Further research is required, but we've heard such pleasing and piquant mixes that included Talking Heads, Blondie, Massive Attack, Elvis Costello, Bo Diddley, Echo & the Bunnymen, the Kinks, the Smiths, Love, Beck, the Shirelles and even Chopin. What's that? Os Mutantes? When most stores along the strips of the suburbs seem content to dial in their satellite radio and zone-out, these folks take time to arrange playlists, thereby supplementing the store's already fetching style.
Best Place to Shop in Color
508 S. Washington, Royal Oak; 248-548-1065; ifounditatscout.com
This charming Royal Oak shop veritably pops with color, with walls painted a brilliant array of pink, teal and yellow and products grouped in attractive color-coordinated displays. Scout offers a seamless array of new and retro goods — from offbeat kitchen items and funky knickknacks to ceramics and fine art prints — with authentic vintage items sharing shelf-space with the hottest names in contemporary designs. It's often hard to distinguish the old from the new, and it's tempting to purchase a whole handful of goodies rather than disturb the owner's thoughtful, eye-pleasing arrangements. The knack for design and composition is further evidenced by the shop's striking window displays, which change to match the season or the holiday. Along with colorful decor, Scout also sells candles, lotions, perfume, art books, plush animals, T-shirts and jewelry.
Best Place to Put Up Visitors on the Cheap
2700 Vermont St., Detroit; 313-451-0333;
Upon hearing the words "Hostel Detroit," travelers may be tempted to imagine a dark, drafty warehouse affording little comfort — but they couldn't be more wrong. Located in one of Corktown's historic corner storefronts, Hostel Detroit has a decidedly bed and breakfast feel — fresh flowers and potted plants line the windowsills — and it's quiet enough to curl up with a good book. Topping out at 22 guests, the hostel offers private ($47 per night), semi-private ($30 per night) and dorm ($25 per night) accommodations. As an educational hostel, Hostel Detroit prides itself on its ability to educate patrons about the city through in-depth conversation, tours and even pairing patrons up with like-minded individuals who are excited to show off hidden gems around town. If you're thinking of traveling to Detroit yourself or have friends and family looking to visit the D affordably, our staff agrees, Hostel Detroit is the place to stay.
Best Place to Shop, Cook & Stay
Honor & Folly
Above Slows Bar B-Q at 2138 Michigan Ave., Detroit; firstname.lastname@example.org; honorandfolly.com
Honor & Folly is the brick and mortar manifestation of Meghan McEwen's passion for design and travel. The freelance writer, blogger and former editor of design magazine CS Interiors has created a space that is part retail design shop, part boutique hotel and part classroom. Located above Slows, the two-bedroom inn comes complete with access to a fully stocked kitchen, and while it may not offer all the amenities of large hotels, it is sure to appeal to adventurous travelers who prefer access to vintage bikes over room service. The space is outfitted with handmade items from local designers, from cutting boards and bed linens to aprons and lighting, most of which are also available for purchase. Honor & Folly can also be rented out for parties and other small events, and it also offers cooking classes with Chef Tenley Lark, whose résumé includes stints at Roast, Slows and Le Petit Zinc. Most classes are $50 or $60, and include topics such as Southern classics and knife skills. To book a bedroom or two for your choosy out-of-town guests ($165 per night for one room), to purchase a handmade apron or for a schedule of classes, see the website.
Best Place for
Advanced Restaurant Services
13201 Prospect Rd., Dearborn; 313-945-5600; advancedrestaurantservices.com
Our big tip here is a concept. Typical consumers assume that restaurant supply shops are not for them, despite signs that say "Open to the Public." And thus most of us miss out on great buys, great advice and a great shopping experience. True, a place like Advanced in Dearborn sells freezers large enough to hold the entire kitchen of many a MT reader; we've seen shops where the smallest deep fryer needed a gallon of oil. But these stores have plenty of restaurant-quality items — from bamboo skewers to ramekins to knives and stock pots and bar stools — that can also work just fine in the home. And last time we checked, we didn't see any of those cool "Please Wait to Be Seated" signs at Williams-Sonoma. Advanced — founded in 1917 — is reputedly the largest of these outfits in the area, sprawling over an area roughly the size of an auto plant. Go in looking for a paring knife, and we guarantee you'll come out with more.
Best Detroit Gift Destination
Tulani Rose in the Spiral Collective
4201 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-832-2477
We found a number of Yelp commenters whose experience matched our own: we'd needed a gift and been saved by Tulani Rose, part of the Spiral Collective at the corner of Cass and Willis (the former sites of the Cass Corridor Food Co-op and Cobb's Corner for Detroit history heads, the bustling strip that includes Avalon Breads these days). Select clothing, accessories and jewelry, soaps, teas, incense are among the offerings. Bellocq's custom-blended teas, Saipua olive oil-based soaps, blank handmade books and reclaimed wood jewelry are some of the top goods currently, proprietor Sharon Pryor tells us. Adding synergy to a visit is that the collective of women entrepreneurs includes Source Booksellers (which focuses on nonfiction, including metaphysical-spiritual concerns, health and well-being, feminism and African-American culture) and Dell Pryor Galleries (whose exhibits have included artists as established as the late Romare Bearden as well as new discoveries). Although all three outfits go back much further (all the way to the 1970s for Dell Pryor), their collective is now celebrating a milestone 10th anniversary.
Best Place to Get Wedding Photos that Pop
661 Kensington Ave., Ferndale; 248-962-3339; stereoghost3d.com
It's becoming a widely accepted truth that everything is infinitely more awesome in 3-D — including those wedding or graduation photos you need to have taken. Stereoghost, a new company headed by local photographer and technical artist Chris Dean, offers custom 3-D photographs of anything you like, including people and architecture. Photo shoots start at a base rate of $300 plus variable costs of your particular requests. Two distinct processes are used: anaglyph, a trusted process that requires the viewer to wear those stylish 3-D glasses, and lenticular, which yields a hologram-like photo and does not require the glasses.
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