By Khristi Zimmeth
The weather may be frightful, but inside Southeast Michigan’s antiques and vintage shops, the browsing is delightful …
When the History Channel’s hit show “American Pickers” visited Detroit last spring, one of Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz’s first stops was the downtown Detroit digs of Joel Landy. Landy and his vintage treasures — everything from classic cars and working scale train models to more than 50 historic city buildings — ended up occupying nearly 20 minutes of air time on the episode, which first ran in September. Wolfe called Landy “a picker’s dream” and credited him for his efforts to save the city’s architectural and cultural heritage. “I collect collections,” Landy says of his diverse interests and holdings.
There are people like Landy throughout metro Detroit who know the ins and outs of treasure hunting in Southeast Michigan. Luckily for us, they agreed to share some of their favorite places. Read on — and happy browsing!
Landy — who owns and operates the Cass City Cinema — loves downtown Detroit and haunts its many shops for pieces to add to his collections. “One of my favorites is Senate Antiques,” he says. “I find a lot of architectural pieces there and various kinds of industrial machinery, which I love and which is big at the moment.” Located off the Fisher Freeway near the Cass Corridor (828 W. Fisher Fwy.; 313-963-5252), Senate Antiques is also known as the Detroit Antique Mall. A sign bearing the latter name hangs on the building’s red brick façade near the freeway. Inside is a maze of small rooms brimming with treasures of all sizes from all eras — Victorian, mid-century and everything in between. Restoring a house? Don’t miss the architectural elements on the second floor.
Landy also frequents the auctions and galleries at DuMouchelle’s (409 E. Jefferson; 313-962-6255; www.dumoart.com), across from the Renaissance Center. “I don’t go for the fine art or jewelry, but the furniture and industrial objects, which can be a really great deal,” he says. “I even got a suit of armor there, which is something I’ve wanted to own since I was a child.” That piece can now be seen in the lobby of one of Landy’s historic Addison Apartments at the corner of Woodward and Charlotte, also home to the Atlas Bar & Grill.
Bob DuMouchelle says that many people don’t realize the auction house has regular gallery hours and is open for browsing even if an auction isn’t scheduled. “We’ve been in business since 1927 and in this building since 1937,” he says. Auctions are held monthly and a great place to score bargains and unusual items. “Right now, there are real deals to be had on both furniture and rugs, but you never know what you’ll find, which is part of the fun,” he says. “We’ve had everything from sports memorabilia to pieces of Detroit history, such as the windows from the old downtown J.L. Hudson’s building.”
Not far away are other downtown digs well worth a look on your urban treasure hunt. Historic Eastern Market is home to Savvy Chic (2712 Riopelle; 313-833-8769), where owner Karen Brown presents a well-edited collection of new and vintage pieces — including home furnishings, vintage clothing and jewelry — many with a French flair. Open Thursday-Sunday, she’s nestled between produce stores and meat markets. Nearby you’ll find Eastern Market Antiques (2530 Market St.; 313-259-0600; www.easternmarketantiques.com), a 15,000-square-foot, 20-dealer warehouse of antique furniture, old albums, vintage clothes and other knickknacks. Just out of the market on Gratiot, proprietor Marvin Nash serves up an eclectic and elegant mix at Marketplace Antiques (2047 Gratiot; 313-567-8250). It’s a slight detour that won’t disappoint.
Take a break: You don’t have to be a good girl (or boy) to enjoy Good Girls Go to Paris (15 E. Kirby; 877-PARIS-CREPES), located on Woodward near the Detroit Institute of Arts. Lined with vintage French movie posters, this unique restaurant features classic Gallic treats, such as beurre et sucre (butter and sugar) crepes as well as heartier selections stuffed with meat and cheeses. If you’re pining for pizza, try Supino (5457 Russell; 313-567-7879) in Eastern Market for the some of the best pies outside New York City or head to Wayne State University hangout Traffic Jam & Snug (511 W. Canfield; 313-831-9470), where you can reflect on your bargains over artisan cheese and a local brew.
Ann Arbor Adventures
Just 45 minutes west of Detroit, Ann Arbor feels like another world. Filled with independent bookstores and funky shops, it’s a great one-tank getaway. Inspiration on how to use your recycled goods can be found at a favorite shop in the charming Kerrytown neighborhood north of the University of Michigan. One visit and Mary Cambruzzi at Found (407 N. Fifth; 734-302-3060; www.foundgallery.com) will have you looking at recyclables in a whole new way. Open since 2005, Found specializes in “vintage, artisan and eco-funky” and showcases more than a dozen artists, many local, who make new pieces from found and vintage goods. Look for cool jewelry (some made from bottle caps, buttons and beach glass), workshops on how to make your own items and more.
After a trip to Found, head to Treasure Mart (529 Detroit St.; 734-662-9887; www.treasuremart.com), also in Kerrytown. Housed in a century-old building, this consignment shop is celebrating 50 years and is known far and wide among experienced collectors. Stock changes daily, and there’s always something tempting on the “new arrivals” table near the front door. Wander a little farther and you’ll find three floors and 8,500 square feet jammed with everything from “real” antiques (technically, anything over 100 years old) to cool collectibles. Go with an open mind and you’re sure to be rewarded.
Heading home, make a side trip to Ypsilanti, where you can peruse a few not-to-be-missed locales. Materials Unlimited (2 W. Michigan Ave.; 734-483-6980; www.materialsunlimited.com) is a must-see for old house fans. More than 15,000 square feet in a 1920s building — which has served as an auto dealership, World War II USO hall and a Moose lodge — tempt with vintage light fixtures and chandeliers, antique doors, hundreds of architectural pieces and more. Cambruzzi recommends a stop at Bowerbird Mongo (210 W. Michigan Ave.; 734-482-4595; www.bowerbirdmongo.com), where she says there’s a “funky vibe” among owners Joyce Ramsey and Ward Freeman’s great selection of vintage art, pottery and other objects of interest. Bowerbird Mongo is open Friday and Saturday evenings or by appointment.
The fifth-generation Schmidt’s Antiques (5138 Michigan Ave.; 734-434-2660; www.schmidtsantiques.com) was founded in 1911 and has been in its current location since 1938. The shop specializes in 18th, 19th and early 20th century English, French and Spanish antiques, but carries a wide variety. Check out the Friday evening events, designed to educate and entertain antique enthusiasts.
Take a break: Zingermans (422 Detroit St., Ann Arbor; 734-663-3354), in Kerrytown, has been named one of the 25 best food markets in the world by Food & Wine magazine and is well worth waiting in the long lines that snake outside the door at seemingly all hours. Try one of the classic deli sandwiches (you may want to split one, they’re so large), and be sure to take home some of their delicious breads. Cambruzzi also recommends the fish market just downstairs from her Kerrytown shop, where you can pick some fresh fare and have it made to order.
Royal Oak Retro
In 1992, self-described salvage slave Marisa Gaggino opened Heritage Co. 2 (116 E. 7th St.; 248-547-0670; www.heritageco2.com) in Royal Oak after being introduced to the business by her brother-in-law, who operates the original Heritage Company in Kalamazoo. Over the next two decades, she expanded into antiques and other collectibles, becoming a resource for historic house parts and cool junk.
“Through the years, I’ve had pieces of Detroit history, including stuff from the train station and Brush Park,” she says. “Right now, I’m getting a lot of calls for reclaimed lumber for new construction and local restaurants.” Gaggino’s recycled barn siding lines the floors at the Commonwealth coffee shop in Birmingham and other local eateries.
In the area, Gaggino recommends visiting Vogue Vintage, with locations in Pleasant Ridge and Ferndale (23622 Woodward, 248-546-1555; and 2600 Wolcott, 248-546-6144; www.voguevintage.net), and Oddfellows Antiques (3248 12 Mile, Berkley; 248-399-6098), an antique mall filled with 50 dealers.
Other Treasure Troves in Metro Detroit
RePurpose (233 W. Main St., Northville; 248-735-0500; www.repurposeshop.cashandcari.com): Fans of Cash & Cari, one of HGTV’s latest hits, know Cari and her crew from the show and from her popular downtown Northville consignment/resale store. The stock changes frequently and ranges from newer and vintage furniture to high-end designer clothing. Northville is also home to the Knightsbridge Antique Mall on Seven Mile Rd., which features more than 200 dealers and a wide variety of vintage goods.
Antiques Centre of Troy (2830 W. Maple, Troy; 248-649-4399; www.judyfrankelantiques.com): Owner Judy Frankel has exquisite taste and her antique shop on Maple Rd. proves it. She travels to Europe frequently to stock her store, a favorite of area interior designers. More class than kitsch, it offers high-end finds, many of which are one-of-a-kind treasures.
The Lamb’s Tail (18820 Armada Ridge Rd., Armada; 586-784-9861; www.thelambstail.com): This tiny treasure is worth the drive to the countryside near Armada, where a vintage barn is filled with goodies of all varieties. Be sure to say hi to the resident goats.
LaBelle Antiques (24861 Harper, St. Clair Shores; 586-445-3144; www.labelleantiques.com): This eastside small antiques mall features great prices and a wide variety of merchandise. Stock and displays change frequently, so go often for the best selection.
Silver Quill Antiques (22813 Van Dyke, Warren; 586-756-8180; www.silverquilllantiques.com): An area favorite since it opened in 1971, this small shop is tightly packed with treasures. Look for great jewelry, blue and white china and an eclectic blend of just about everything else.
Take a break: Gaggino recommends Royal Oak’s Zumba Mexican Grille (121 Main; 248-542-7799), Inn Season (500 E. 4th St; 248-547-7916) for vegetarian fare, and the Belgian-inspired Bastone (419 S. Main St.; 248-544-6250).