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Pop-ups, new shops expand holiday shopping in Detroit

Candice Williams
The Detroit News
Chinonye Akunne makes a sale at her pop-up shop, Ilera Apothecary, which specializes in ethically sourced soaps, lotions and body products, at the markets at Campus Martius.

Detroit — An influx of new brick-and-mortar stores and pop-up shops in the city's downtown has made it an increasingly popular holiday shopping destination in recent years.

This year, more than 30 Michigan-based entrepreneurs will showcase unique gifts at the Downtown Detroit Markets. 

The shops, which run through Jan. 13, are open Wednesday through Sunday weekly in Cadillac Square, Capitol Park and at 1441 Woodward Collective. 

Foodies can check out Nostimo Kitchen in a large greenhouse in Cadillac Square. It’s a collaboration between chef Toni Sova of Southfield-based Nostimo Kitchen and Bedrock, which, along with the Quicken Loans Community Fund sponsors the event. 

“We collaborated and created a space that offers Detroit goods as well as my favorite picks as a chef,” said Sova. 

Shoppers flock to the holiday markets in downtown Detroit. The shops, which run through Jan. 13, are open Wednesday through Sunday weekly in Cadillac Square, Capitol Park and at 1441 Woodward Collective.

For the sweet tooth, the Nostimo Kitchen’s hut offers goods from Detroit Marshmallow,  Iversen’s Bakery in Detroit and Mindo Chocolate, a vegan chocolate maker in Dexter. The shop also offers a variety of cookbooks, seasonal plates, denim bags and aprons.

“A lot of these items I personally used and knew,” Sova said.

There’s a range in price points.

“We have that sweet spot of a $25, $20 gift,” she said. “I think it’s for somebody who wants a cookie all the way to somebody who considers themselves a foodie.”

More than 90 percent of the small businesses in the markets are minority-owned with 75 percent run by women, said Helen Johnson, vice president at Quicken Loans Community Fund.

The markets are a draw for shoppers. The markets last year generated $2 million in revenue for the businesses that participated, Johnson said. 

“If (shoppers) go to the markets they’re going to see a variety of options for what they can buy,” she said. “You can get something small for a stocking stuffer or something for yourself or you can buy something for everybody on your list. You can spend as little as you want to or as much as you want to.”

Another markets vendor, Corina Baldwin, operates her shop, Little High Flyers, in Midtown and a pop-up location in Capitol Park. She focuses on selling art, books and accessories for children. The products come from women-owned small businesses from around the world.

Baldwin said she carries a few popular items, including a white onesie that reads “Give me a Detroit fist bump” and features a rendering of the Joe Louis fist monument. 

“I buy that organically and we print it here in Detroit,” she said.

248 Studio, a pop-up shop in the Capitol Park markets, offers a wide variety of Detroit- and Michigan-themed clothing and gifts.

Another hot item are the $30 pilot winter hats for boys and girls.

“Everybody is excited about those,” she said. “It’s sort of our signature item.”

At the 1441 Woodward Collective, an indoor retail incubator, shoppers will find more than a dozen vendors under one roof. 

That's where Tee Capel operates her business Fly Behavior, offering women’s clothing, accessories and stationary. She said she started her business four years ago after seeing a need for affordable, stylish and classic clothing items.

“What I usually get is a lot of sisters, or mothers or even husband or boyfriends that buy for the stylish woman in their life,” she said. “Typically, they come and buy sweaters and dresses. We do a lot of outerwear.”

Gift options from Fly Behavior include a teddy bear coat that Capel says draws attention from shoppers. The fluffy coat resembles teddy bear fur and comes in colors including black and pink. The full-length version of the coat is $168, while the short version is $158.

Other shops at 1441 Woodward Collective include companies with menswear and accessories, candles, jewelry and kid’s clothing. 

Detroit GT offers Detroit-themed clothing and colorful art prints and coasters with sketched images of notable Detroit landmarks like the Michigan Central Depot, Belle Isle Aquarium, Eastern Market and the Fisher Building. 

Blu Mitten has clothing for little girls. A big hit, Capel says, is a bubblegum scented, rubber backpack that come with a bracelet. 

“I think we kind of have something for everybody here,” Capel said.

The markets generated $2 million for businesses last year, said Helen Johnson, vice president at Quicken Loans Community Fund.

To enhance the shopping experience, food and beverage options are available in both Cadillac Square and Capitol Park. The team at Parc created the restaurant menu for the Cadillac Lodge while Prime + Proper and Townhouse will head the Capitol Inn tent in Capitol Park. The Inn will also feature a rotation of live musicians. 

"The markets are about spending money, but the public space is about spending time," Johnson said.

For a full list of vendors, visit Bedrock's Facebook page.

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN