Eastern Market institution
David DeVries charts a future for the former R. Hirt Jr. shop
Published: December 28, 2011
As the conversation goes on, it becomes obvious that DeVries is as much a fixture in the market as his family's store ever was. Once nicknamed the "Mayor of the Market," he still hangs around, whether he was running the shop or not, and getting teased about it by some of the market regulars.
"They tell me, 'You got nothing to do. So you go around bothering people!'"
Another business owner recently deadpanned to DeVries, "I never liked you. And I never thought I'd say this, but — I miss you. You brought us a lot of business over the years."
Clearly, a lot of affectionate ballbreaking goes on among the hawkers on Market Street, where a stubborn neighbor might mask his intentions by calling you a "pain in the ass." And it's obvious DeVries relishes it all.
"It's a fun business. People like this. There are some businesses where people don't like you! But this is really a fun business because people do."
That goodwill extends to the Eastern Market Corporation, which is happy to help DeVries keep the building in the family and on mission. The only catch is, DeVries can't call it R. Hirt Jr. anymore. That name belongs to the wholesale business behind the market on Chrysler Drive.
They've considered such names as 1887 Cheese Shop and DeVries Cheese Shop (duh-VREES really does rhyme with cheese). It's still a work in progress, and Team Detroit, via its relationship with Eastern Market, has stepped up to aid in branding. But, in the end, just as R. Hirt Jr. was oddly often called R.J. Hirt by locals, the official name may not even matter.
"Just like before, they'll call it what they want to," DeVries says with a chuckle.
The Rudolph Hirt, Jr. building is located at 2468 Market St. in the heart of Detroit's Eastern Market. Stay tuned for details ...
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