Kanye West pop-up shop a hit in Sterling Heights

Stephanie Steinberg
The Detroit News

Kyle Malloy of St. Clair Shores waited 50 minutes to get inside Kanye West’s pop-up shop at Lakeside Mall in Sterling Heights Friday afternoon, but the 18-year-old would have happily waited several hours.

Fans of Kanye West wait in line inside Lakeside Mall Thursday to visit the musician’s new pop-up store.

“I’ve been listening to his music since ‘College Dropout’ in 2004,” said Malloy, who dropped $130 on a ticket for West’s Grand Rapids concert Sept. 27. “I think he is a perfect representative of society. And everything he does is so calculated.”

The 22-time Grammy-award winner’s 21-city pop-up shop was definitely calculated. West tweeted a link Wednesday night to his pop-up’s locations, instantly alerting his 25 million followers.

While some Metro Detroit fans were surprised the one Michigan shop wasn’t at a more populous spot such as Somerset Collection or downtown Detroit, it didn’t stop them from traveling to Sterling Heights. According to a Lakeside security guard who wasn’t authorized to speak on the record, fans started lining up on the sidewalk (where they slept) Thursday night. The mall opened doors at 7 a.m., and the shop, blasting tracks from the rapper’s latest album “The Life of Pablo,” let in customers — up to 20 at a time — at 9 a.m.

The limited edition apparel and “Life of Pablo” merchandise ranges from $45 for a white hat with “Detroit” in a V-shape, to an original “Pablo” military jacket for $325. That’s the most popular item, according to a store rep, who said the solid green jacket had sold out by 4 p.m. (A camouflage version is still available.)

Eastern Michigan University student Tytiana Steele and Wayne State University student Jasmine Thomas, 20-year-olds from Detroit, were contemplating the one-of-a-kind jacket.

“If I don’t buy it today, I’ll probably come back tomorrow,” Steele says, holding the jacking emblazoned with “Pablo” four times on the back. “It’s a big decision, but it’s worth it because Kanye designed it,” she says.

Thomas offered her opinion: “There’s only limited amounts. You can’t come back and get it next week.”

Best friends Jasmine Thomas (left) and Tytiana Steele, both 20 of Detroit, consider purchasing the $325 Pablo military jacket, the most expensive item for sale.

The pop-up will be open only 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday at Lakeside Mall on the first floor.

All items are final sale, and the only apparel customers can try on is the military jacket. Some fans were not so impressed by the “I feel like Pablo” tees going for $55 and “I love you like Kanye loves you” long sleeve shirts for $75.

“I feel like I can make these shirts myself,” says Kennedy Wood, 14, of Macomb, who waited 45 minutes in line with her friend Kobi Florence, 14, of Clinton Township.

The two found out about the pop-up through Twitter and decided to check it out. Their disappointment was evident. “I thought Kanye was going to be here,” Wood says. (West did not make an appearance, but he will be at the Joe Louis Arena Sept. 28 and the Palace of Auburn Hills Oct. 6 for his Saint Pablo Tour.)

The majority of the 16 employees, sporting the “I feel like Pablo” shirts, were brand ambassadors from Paradigm Entertainment Group. A few flew in from San Francisco knowing they’d be heading to a “Pablo” pop-up, while local reps, like Nina Morrocco of Shelby Township, only found out the last-minute that she’d be selling West’s merchandise this weekend.

“I don’t know why they chose Lakeside,” she said. The pop-ups are also in a dozen other U.S. cities, including San Francisco, Boston and New York City.

Sitting nearby as her 14-year-old daughter waited in line, Fraser resident Yolanda Smith, 46, had a few words to describe the hype.

“This is ludicrous,” she says, shaking her head at the winding line. “Back in my day, I guess Michael Jackson would have caused the same phenomenon.”


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Twitter: @Steph_Steinberg