Cultural Considerations

Building Community on the Avenue of Fashion

  • Detroit’s Avenue of Fashion is rooted in a vibrant arts and cultural history and was most popular from the 40’s through the 70’s when the street was bustling with women shopping at dress shops, shoe stores and jewelers, teenagers meeting up and having lunch with friends, nationally renowned artists works on display at galleries, and Motown greats performing at some of the oldest jazz clubs in the country. Engaging this history is not necessarily entry criteria, but rather a consideration in thinking about how your idea fits into the next chapter in the history of The Avenue of Fashion.
  • The Avenue of Fashion is bordered by a diverse mix of cultures and socioeconomics - people who have lived in the neighborhood since its heyday, young students attending university at the University of Detroit Mercy or Marygrove College – both just a few blocks away, and residents of some of the most affluent and stable neighborhoods in the city.
  • Several factors make this area commercially viable for new retailers - a diverse cultural and business mix, an active community with tremendous buying power and desire to support local businesses, a captive audience of university students and a density of quality ground-floor retail spaces that supports a walkable retail destination.

Questions to inspire and provoke…

  • Many entrepreneurs in Detroit are building new business models through their use of space – “pop-up” restaurants hosted in existing ones, shared workspaces that host multiple tenants/resources and spur collaboration, modular spaces that can transform to suit different needs, etc…How can we engage the creative community and think about the retail experience differently?
  • Where does art, community and culture intersect?
  • How can a store build a community? How can it become more than just somewhere you go to buy something, but rather a place you want to hang out, chat, shop and run into friends?
  • How can we export products or ideas that are born in Detroit to other markets? 
  • What attracts people most is other people. How can we build foot traffic on the street and encourage peoplewatching?
  • What are the small things that can be done immediately to set off a positive chain reaction with potential for longer term, sustainable strategies for success of the district?
  • How can we remind people of the greatness of their place by helping them rediscover what’s already there?
  • What are simple ways to make this district more attractive, engaging, friendly, and welcoming?
  • What are those special “moments” that will surprise and delight people? What are the softer sides of a place that people fall in love with?
  • How can art do more than bring visual interest, how can it create real value?