In the 1960’s there was coined the term “White Flight” to explain the surge of white workers from the inner cities to the newly growing suburbs. This resulted in many downtown areas of even the largest US cities falling to neglect and becoming a place for low-income housing or just flat-out deserted. In recent years however, we are seeing a reversal of this movement and people are starting to make the move back to city centers. Because of this trend, distinctive neighborhoods are popping up in response to the gentrification of these previously rundown areas. An interesting trend toward specialty retailers in these unique neighborhoods is beginning to grow and a great example of this trend is in of all places, Detroit.
The Motor City is seeing an increase in stores that cater to an exceptional shopping experience, which draws people into physical stores to shop instead of the cold and impersonal experience online shopping has to offer. More and more unique retailers are moving in and offering not just different product that consumers can’t find anywhere else but an exciting and unique shopping experience. Could this new wave of experiential based shopping be the saving grace to abandoned inner cities and the decline in brick and mortar stores? Detroit could be the key to how retailers can again get traffic back into their stores and fight back against the online giants. Detroit may be the testing ground for how retailers create and showcase their offerings in physical stores and could spark the change retailers need to be innovative and retain new customers.
A great example of this would be PONEYRIDE in downtown Detroit. Thought of as an incubator for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and artists, it is a space founded on the premise of perseverance and solidarity. With 30,000 square feet of space and with 50 business and organizations under its roof, it is a veritable bazaar of unique shopping experiences. One of the brands that stands out is THE LIP BAR, founded by Melissa Butler, she started the cosmetics company out of pure frustration. She found a huge gap in the makeup industry, with a lack of high performing makeup and diversity in lipstick shades. The Lip Bar is also sold at a new and exciting store in Detroit, DETROIT IS THE NEW BLACK, a store representing the entrepreneurial past and industrious future of downtown retail, locally sourcing material and vendors that all contribute to the idea of community and conversation. A percentage of all sales is donated to the DPS Foundation School Uniform program. The combination of innovative stores and brands and the connection to community is strong and part of what makes this movement so important.