Shoppe will showcase Detroit's finest

Posted on January 5, 2012

Somerset Collection will open a second downtown outpost Monday to bring retail to Detroit as the city welcomes thousands of visitors to the North American International Auto Show.

The luxury shopping center is exporting a smaller version of its Troy Detroit Shoppe to the main entrance at the annual auto show in Cobo Center. It will be open to the media starting Monday, to the public during the black-tie charity event Jan. 13 and during regular auto show hours Jan. 14-22.

The 1,000-square-foot Cobo location will serve as a downtown showplace for the Motor City’s historic brands, such as American Coney Island, Vernors pop and Sanders confections and desserts.

It shows that “shopping can again flourish in Detroit,” said Kelly Breckenridge, manager of the Detroit Shoppe.

The shop will please visitors, especially journalists who have complained in recent years about a lack of retail, grocery stores and restaurants in the city, said Michael O’Callaghan, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau.

This will be Somerset’s second retail project in Detroit following CityLoft, a 4,000-square-foot collection of pop-up shops on the ground level of the Lofts at Merchants Row development on Woodward Avenue that operated for three days each month in July, August, September and December. That project also was inspired by the success of Somerset’s Detroit Shoppe.

The Detroit Shoppe opened in November 2010 as an experimental two-month holiday pop-up shop. Its popularity has kept it in business for more than a year.

The temporary expansion of the shop is also an opportunity for Troy’s Somerset Collection, one of the healthiest malls in Metro Detroit, to publicly commit itself to promoting Detroit, an effort also spearheaded by QuickenLoans LLC founder Dan Gilbert and Ilitch Holdings Inc.

It’s a savvy strategy, said Farmington Hills-based retail consultant Ken Dalto.

“It will enhance their brand significantly in a short time, as is their intention,” Dalto said. “The money they make at this short-term venture is greatly outweighed by the enhanced branding.”

The CityLoft project served as “a 3-D billboard for Somerset,” Nathan Forbes, managing partner of the Forbes Co., which owns and manages Somerset, said when CityLoft opened in July.

The shop, coupled with the expanded auto show, makes a dramatic statement about Detroit’s potential, the convention bureau’s O’Callaghan said.

“The story this tells them is that that is all changing,” he said.