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Entries in detroit (1)

Monday
Apr152013

Thrifting creates a sense of community and local pride in The Mitten! 

I don't think I've stayed nearly this close to a thrift store this whole trip-- literally woke up and drove about two blocks to my first stop, the Goodwill store in Canton, Michigan!  

There I met Mark, who told me about the unique connection between the Goodwill mission here and the automotive industry that is the heart of Detroit. Through the store's profits, they're able to employ people with disabilities who assemble automotive kits for Detroit's carmaking industry. 

Walking around with my camera and digging through the t-shirts, I hear "If I Had A Million Dollars" playing on the intercom-- man I love that song, and seems so apropos hearing it in a thrift store!

You don't have to browse long to notice this store is loaded with Detroit pride. From the framed Detroit Free Press Stanley Cup photos of the Red Wings hanging in back to the t-shirts that say "Outsource to Detroit" especially made for their stores by a local company to help generate funds for Goodwill (you can buy one online!), it's obvious that this area is proud of its local culture.

I ran into Rich, who is here looking for collectable records for himself and toys for his granddaughter.  He's a retired middle school teacher who worked in the Detroit School District for years. He likes to thrift in Connecticut too, when he's visiting his daughter, and says he definitely does notice a difference in selection between these two places. "They have more antiques," he said. 

I'll be there on this trip shortly-- I can't wait to check out Connecticut's thrift stores, too!

I also talk a little with Laura, who has swung by on her way home from the gym. She's found a few things for herself, and a few things for her nieces that still have tags on them. 

She also looks for stuff for her husband and two kids, including her son who is notoriously putting holes in his jeans.  "So I just come and replenish them," she said. Recently she found a brand new golf bag for her husband and a Vera Bradley pocketbook.  

Score! 

I decided to heed my friend Rob's Detroit-native advice and head to Slows for lunch for some local flavor. Whoa-- that is a place not to be missed, my friends. It's on the south side of downtown and was packed to the gills with customers. 

I highly recommend the BBQ Sockeye Salmon-- and their mac and cheese-- and their peach cobbler.  What can I say, lunch is my only real meal of the day recently, so I tried to soak up as much Detroit goodness as I could.

Next stop was The Little Thrift Shop at St. Michael's Episcopal Church in Grosse Pointe Woods, which has been in operation for 55 years!

It started as a store in the church's organ loft, but is now found in a little corner of a side building. They're technically closed today, but the door was open and the flutter of laughter from the back of the store led me to a room full of church volunteers tagging fresh items and enjoying each other's company.

Marguerite and BarbaraThey're doing exactly what I would be doing-- sizing up the new stuff as they tag.  "We're our own best customers," they joke. 

It's there I meet Marguerite, a real cut-up, even at age 90, razzing the other ladies while she works. She says she used to date Tom Selleck's father. "His dad was better looking than him," she says, smiling. "No, he really was!"

She's been volunteering here ever since it opened-- and even appeared in a photo, posing with a dress, for the store opening that ran in the Detroit Free-Press 55 years ago.  

These ladies are here on their own time and they clearly love just spending this time together, regardless of what they're doing.

But they love that they're also here to make a difference. The money raised in the store is dispersed to a handful of charities, including a jail ministry, food bank and youth group.  

 

 

They joke as they sign their model releases that they weren't planning on being "models" today. "We didn't wear our jewels today, but we did wear our halos!" Marguerite joked.

A quick fill up at the gas station (Hello there, $15 worth of gas! I love you, Prius!) and it was back on the road and headed to Cleveland.

With the radio on and heading east again, I learned about the bombings in Boston-- such a sad incident. Seeing the actual video now in the hotel is surreal. It's amazing that even more people weren't injured. Thinking about Boston tonight, my visit there in a few weeks and hoping this is an isolated incident. 

Tomorrow-- Cleveland and a drive to Pittsburgh!