Southerner Meets Michigan: The Vintage Lover’s Guide To Detroit

Southerner Meets Michigan: The Vintage Lover’s Guide To Detroit
The Awesome Mitten-The Vintage Lover's Guide To Detroit
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Bowman

Do you ever feel like you were born in the wrong decade? I often do, probably because I’m constantly drawn to Benny Goodman tunes and can’t shake the fact that my hair was made for a 1980s music video. Don’t get me wrong–I love my smart phone and DVR, but there’s something special about eras gone by. That’s where vintage shopping comes in. Continuing my quest to find the best vintage stores around, I was thrilled to discover so many options located in (and very close to) Detroit. Surprisingly, with the current resurgence of old-time Americana style, I learned that there are also many shops that supplement “true” vintage with new, vintage-inspired pieces. While I enjoyed finding both types of stores on my journey, I understand that some people might just be looking for one type of store over another. To help you out, I’m here to break down exactly what I discovered after visiting some of Detroit’s highest-rated vintage (and vintage-inspired) shops.

Lost And Found Vintage

Looking for a stop on the drive in to Detroit? Try Lost and Found Vintage in downtown Royal Oak. This captivating boutique was the first “real” vintage clothing store I found after moving to Michigan. The selection spreads across three main levels–women’s clothing in the loft, men’s clothing downstairs, and jewelry and miscellaneous treasures on the level in between. Personally, I go to check out the jackets and never-ending supply of Coach purses, but with an inventory that spans well across the 20th century (most items seem to span from the 1950s through 1980s), there are pieces available for every style. Be it a Betty Draper-esque cardigan or a fringe leather jacket, you’re sure to find exactly what your old-fashioned heart fancies.

The Awesome Mitten-The Vintage Lover's Guide To Detroit
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Bowman

The Peacock Room

I can’t remember my exact words when I first stepped inside The Peacock Room, but they were something along the lines of, “Oh, wow!” Interestingly enough, that’s not an uncommon reaction when customers visit this midtown Detroit gem. Word around the store is that some customers simply gasp when they encounter this dazzling collection of sparkling dresses and jewelry, most of which are vintage-inspired pieces that recreate styles from the first half of the 1900s (although, there are some authentic vintage finds mixed in). Catching up with owner Rachel Lutz, I learned that awestruck reactions are a big part of why The Peacock Room was established. Put off by so many stores where selection, quality, and customer service were not priorities, Lutz was determined to create a shopping experience that felt enjoyable, not exhausting. The Peacock Room keeps its vibrancy with high-quality items that are hand-selected (always in person) by Lutz herself, in sizes that range from 00 to 26. Bonus: The shop is housed in an old dining room in the historical Park Shelton (formerly the Wardell Hotel), so there are plenty of ornate, architectural details to admire while you shop.

The Awesome Mitten-The Vintage Lover's Guide To Detroit
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Bowman

Thrift on the Avenue (Thrift on the Ave.)

Nestled on Cass Avenue in a growing community of upscale, contemporary stores and restaurants, Thrift on the Ave. packages bold style into an intimate shopping experience. With an assortment of everything from colorful tuxedos and statement coats to chunky sweaters and bow ties, it’s easy to put together a new look on a budget. In fact, the prices at Thrift on the Ave. are surprisingly reasonable for the selection offered, with dollar signs dropping even lower (we’re talking half off!) on sale days. Love shopping in a group? There’s also a great area in the center of the store where you can hang out on a couch and read magazines while you and your friends take turns modeling your latest fashion finds.

Detroit Mercantile

The Awesome Mitten-The Vintage Lover's Guide To Detroit
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Bowman

For a seamless mix of vintage goods and American-made classics, Detroit Mercantile is the place to go. Located in the Eastern Market, Detroit Mercantile carries items that range from maps and mugs to leather boots and Stormy Kromers. The products are high-quality, unique (great for gifts!) and very much a representation of Detroit. I have to admit that the newer products grabbed my attention the most while I was in the store, but they all reflected the design and feel of items from many decades ago. Happily, the pricing was very reasonable and while I passed on it the first time around, I’m already planning a return trip to snag an awesome Detroit map print I regret leaving behind. That’s the beauty of living in the metro area, though–this awesome city is never too far away to revisit!

The Awesome Mitten-The Vintage Lover's Guide To Detroit
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Bowman

Eastern Market Antiques

Now, if you’re in the area and have your heart set on an all-vintage shopping experience, there are several more options available at Eastern Market Antiques. Made up of housewares, clothing, jewelry, furniture, records, artwork, you name it–this place probably has it. The building is a large, two-story structure with tons of alcoves, so you’ll have to do a bit of hunting and rummaging . . . but hey, that’s half the fun! Dig deep into this diverse collection and you just may surprise yourself with all the fun things you’ll find.

What are your favorite sources for vintage and vintage-inspired items in Detroit? Share your go-to places in the comments below!

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I’m Jennifer, a native Virginian trying her hand at living the Michigan life. I moved to the mitten with my husband in 2011, and since then, have been busy exploring the state and looking for the best of what it has to offer. So far, I have no complaints—except maybe that whole “longer winter” thing. But, hey—even that just gives me an excuse to buy more sweaters. When I’m not searching for new places or immersing myself in media news (I’m an advertising junkie), I’m usually writing stories for my blog, Wading in Big Shoes. I love connecting with new people, so feel free to find me there or at my Twitter handle, @JHBowman. In the meantime, I’ll see you around the mitten!