Most Read
  • Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County

    CNN has a message to all prospective landlords: Head to Wayne County! Occupancy and rental rates are increasing, the report says, creating an opportunity for serious returns on investments. In fact, after comparing the median sales price of homes to average monthly rents in nearly 1,600 counties, RealtyTrac found that Detroit’s Wayne County offers landlords the best return on their investment in the nation. Investors who buy homes in the metro area can expect a 30% gross annual return from rents. That’s triple the national average of 10%. RealtyTrac, an online real estate information company, says the county offers investors low prices for larger homes — with a median price of $45,000. “We’ve got some steals here,” said Rachel Saltmarshall, a real estate agent and immediate past president of the Detroit Association of Realtors, told CNN. “There’s a six-bedroom, 6,000 square-foot home in a historic district selling for $65,000.” For more, read the entire report here.

    The post Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit

    This Saturday, audiophiles across the world will venture out to their favorite independent record stores in search of limited releases that quickly become collectors items. The third Saturday of April marks the fairly new international holiday Record Store Day. There are certainly dos and don’ts to know for RSD — like where to shop, and how to shop. That’s right, there is an etiquette to shopping on Record Store Day and violating that code makes you look like a real asshole. In my experience of celebrating Record Store Day, I’ve seen stores use a few different tactics as far as stocking the special releases. Some establishments will set up a table, somewhere in the store, where a few shoppers at a time can flip through records in a calm and contained manner. Other places will have a similar setup, with all the releases at a table, but shoppers ask the store employees for the releases they want. It’s like a record nerd stock exchange. This process gets loud, slightly confusing and incredibly annoying — this is where elbows start getting thrown. Then, there are places that put the releases on the shelves, usually categorized by size — twelve inches with the twelve inches, seven inches with the seven inches and […]

    The post The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled

    The Detroit Electronic Music Festival, which was supposed to be making a triumphant return this year, has been canceled. A statement on the website says that the festival will be back in 2015. Back in November, Ford Field hosted an announcement party for DEMF, where it was revealed that a new DEMF festival would take place at Campus Martius Park in Detroit over the July 4th weekend. “I’m proud to be involved in the biggest and best electronic music festival in the world,” said Juan Atkins. “The future’s here. This is techno scene.” Not the immediate future, apparently. The DEMF people claim that the M-1 rail construction is partially to blame for the cancellation/12-month-postponement. Read the full statement here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards

    Despite a turbulent 2013 which saw Metro Times change owners, move buildings and change editors twice, we picked up eight awards at the Society of Professional Journalists Awards on Wednesday night. The big winner was Robert Nixon, design manager, who picked up a first place for “Feature Page Design (Class A)” for our Josh Malerman cover story, first for “Cover Design (Class A)” for our Halloween issue (alongside illustrator John Dunivant), and a second in that same category for our annual Lust issue. In the news categories, our esteemed former news editor and current contributing writer Curt Guyette won third in “General News Reporting” and third in “Best Consumer/Watchdog” – both Class A – for the Fairground Zero and Petcoke Series respectively. Music & Culture Editor Brett Callwood placed third for his Josh Malerman cover story in the “Best Personality Profile (Class A)” category, and former editor Bryan Gottlieb picked up a couple of Class C awards for “Editorial Writing” and “Headline Writing” (third and second, respectively). We were also pleased to learn that our investigative reporter Ryan Felton won first place and an honorable mention for work published while at the Oakland Press. The MT ship is steady now, […]

    The post Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval

    In this week’s Metro Times we took a look at the state legislature’s role in Detroit’s ongoing bankruptcy — in particular, how it must approve a $350 million pledge for the so-called “grand bargain” to remain intact. And, with last night’s announcement of a significant deal between the city and Detroit’s pension boards and retiree groups, the ball is Lansing’s court now. The new deal, first reported by the Freep, would cut general employees monthly pension checks by 4.5 percent and eliminate their cost-of-living increases. Police and fire retirees would see no cuts to monthly checks, while their cost-of-living increases would be reduced from 2.25 percent to 1 percent. Under the original offer, police and fire retirees cuts were as high as 14 percent, with general retirees as high as 34 percent, that is, if the groups rejected the “grand bargain,” an $816 million proposal funded by foundations, the state, and the DIA to shore up pensions. The sweeter deal for pensions, though, it must be noted, entirely relies on the state legislature approving $350 million for Detroit’s bankruptcy.  And while this broke after Metro Times went to press, that was the focal point of this week’s News Hits column — so, it’s worth repeating: The […]

    The post Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday

    This Saturday, April 19, is Record Store Day, and there is plenty going on in metro Detroit and Michigan. Of special interest to us is Chiodos’ 7” single “R2ME2/Let Me Get You A Towel,” Mayer Hawthorne & Shintaro Skamoto’s 7” “Wine Glass Woman/In a Phantom,” Chuck Inglish & Action Bronson’s 7” “Game Time,” Chuck Inglish & Chance the Rapper’s 7” “Glam,” Chuck Inglish & Chromeo’s 7” “Legs,” Chuck Inglish, Mac Miller & Ab-Soul’s 7” “Easily,” James Williamson’s 7” “Open Up and Bleed/Gimme Some Skin,” Black Milk’s 12” “Glitches in the Break,” Mayer Hawthorne’s 10” “Jaded Inc.,” Wayne Kramer & the Lexington Arts Ensemble’s 12” “Lexington,” and best of all, Ray Parker Jr.’s 10” “Ghostbusters.” We wrote about James Williamson’s release this week. Go shop. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



Search thousands of events in our database.


Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.


Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

MT on Twitter
MT on Facebook

Print Email


Flower power

A family florist stays alive despite a fire, dementia and loss

Photo: Photo: Detroitblogger John, License: N/A

Photo: Detroitblogger John

Patricia Duff inside her home flower shop.

She unwraps the pink lilies and lays them gently on the table. With a knife she trims one stem at a time, and the discarded pieces fall to the floor.

This used to be where she and her family ate together. Now it's where she works.

Patricia Duff and her husband Nat spent a lifetime selling floral arrangements at Byron's Flowers on Woodward in Highland Park. Then, in March last year, their century-old business burned to the ground in the middle of the night.

They didn't even know their building was on fire until it was long over. Patricia would unplug the phone before going to bed because Nat had trouble sleeping. And so they slept through the blaze. They learned of it only when her son's friend knocked on their door in the morning and changed everyone's lives with a few words of news.

Although everything they had in Byron's was lost, Patricia was determined to somehow keep the family business alive. And so her house became a flower shop.

"If we shut down we'd lose our business, and there was no way we were gonna shutdown," says Patricia, 68.

She called the phone company the day after the fire and had the store's phone number transferred to her house in Detroit's Boston-Edison neighborhood. She brought fresh flowers home from the wholesaler, put some in the fridge, put others by the window so they'd open their clenched petals when the sunlight touched them. There were customers waiting on arrangements, standing orders that knew nothing of a fire.

And slowly, she adapted to a new life.

"We don't have the same amount of business, but we have business," she says. "And we don't have the equipment we had, but we're still able to operate. And that's the most important thing."

Wholesalers cut her a break, letting her purchase things one by one rather than in bulk like she used to. Instead of buying invoices by the box she prints them one at a time on a home computer. Instead of ordering professional business cards she now gets them for only $1.99 for 500 of them if she leaves the printer's advertisement on the back of her cards. It's less than ideal, but it's better than giving up.

"We're really strapped for cash," she says. "We just try to cut corners as best as we can. It's a lot different, but it's manageable." Her kids Nicole and Damian help her out without taking any pay for it.

Some of her regular customers have found her new location, directed here by a banner the family hung along the iron fence that still circles the site of the fire.

Consultations are held in the living room, the solarium is used for storage, and the flowers get trimmed and arranged in the dining room.

Patricia wants to move back to the old location, into a new building. But the insurance company, she says, is dragging its heels on paying the claim until they finish investigating the fire. Meanwhile, the city is eager to clear the charred rubble still piled on the lot. If that happens before the investigation is done, though, the insurance won't cover it, and Duff gets stuck with a demo bill she can't possibly afford.

So she waits, works from the house, pleads with the city to wait a little longer, and hangs on day by day, trying to fulfill a promise her husband made to the family.

"The whole mindset is, in the black minority community there aren't any businesses that go on to the second generation," she says. "That has always been our goal. It's the continuance that's the most important thing, surviving to the next generation. So I want to keep my husband's dream alive. That's the reason why."

She has to keep that promise by herself now because he can't do it anymore.

Patricia and Nat
met in the late '50s. He'd come north from Alabama and was working at a car wash. She worked at the Dairy Queen next door. They were a mixed-race couple in a time when that meant trouble.

"It was very hard," Patricia says. "We were pulled over by the police a lot for being together. We were followed sometimes. There weren't many places in public we could go to."

Nat got his start at Byron's as a delivery driver and quickly worked his way up. "My husband would deliver them but he kept looking at the arrangements," she says. "Sometimes he would take them apart and redo them so he would learn. He taught himself."

The owner grew to love him so much that when he died in 1969, his wife was left with instructions to sell the shop to Nat, his longtime, loyal employee. The Duff family has run it ever since.

Patricia believes her husband's was the first black florist shop in the Midwest, and he was one of the first minority owners to belong to FTD, the industry's largest network. It was a lonely distinction.

"We would go to FTD conventions and he would be one of two black people there," she remembers.

They went through a lot together at the shop. There was the time robbers came in, beat the couple and threw them down the stairs, all for $200. The time when celebrants broke in and stole flowers to commemorate one of the Pistons' championships. The time a drunk drove his car right through the front wall of the shop. The time burglars broke in and rummaged through everything, all while the terrified family listened from the other room, where they had been sleeping after pulling an all-nighter before a busy holiday.

"There were a lot of things that happened at the flower shop, but we stayed," she says. "We're survivors."

Then came the fire.

Her husband
doesn't live at home anymore. He'd recently begun to slip into dementia, and by last year Patricia found herself taking care of him fulltime. The 70-year-old man had endured four strokes and open-heart surgery, and developed a host of other health problems that turned out impossible for her to handle alone. Last fall, she had to move him into a nursing home.

We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus