Company Highlight: Shinola
Detroit is often labeled as “The Motor City” and is given the credit of reshaping the music industry with the advent of Motown. Decades after, the halls of Hitsville U.S.A. were turned into a museum, and, following a never ending industrial roller coaster ride with the auto industry, a new company is gaining steam.
Shinola is this new company. The goal of Shinola is to offer an American made product to compete in a field that is dominated by European companies. In a generation where fine watches, leather goods, and bicycles are the new norm in downtown cities, Shinola wants to show that American, specifically Detroit, made quality is still the highest around; just like the auto industry.
First the watches: Shinola has created a series of watches that are all adorned with an American made leather strap. The watches come with different colored faces and leather bands in a variety of sizes. “The Runwell” timepiece seems to be the new hype in the watch industry. Sites like GQ and Forbes have all recently wrote about this new and upcoming company. Simply put, every article claims that Shinola is a game changer. It proudly displays what an American made product can do in a world dominated by Louis Vuitton and Rolex.
The rest: Although “The Runwell” watch is the highlight of Shinola, their products don’t stop at just that. Leather goods, like backpacks and electronic holders, are offered in multiple colors and match perfectly with the straps that are featured on the Shinola time pieces. The leather pieces show off an American hipster style, while at the same time making designer aficionados drawn to them. As if the combination of time pieces and leather goods weren’t enough for Shinola, the company also makes their own line of American made bicycles. If you take a walk down any street in most major American cities today, you will find that you are almost ran over by someone with a bicycle that is brand new, but looks like it was their grandfather’s. Shinola is now in on that market. Offering a bright orange, green, baby blue, and yellow bike for males and also a pink one for women, Shinola has created a high quality bicycle for anyone willing to pay the $1,900+ price tag.
Detroit has always been a blue collared town who has seen both success and failures. The recent past has forced Detroit, and the state of Michigan, to reinvent themselves. Companies like Shinola are putting Detroit back on the map for things that could never have been dreamed of a decade ago. Now, the city of Detroit is proudly printed on the back and face of every Shinola watch with their signature engraving that reads, “Built In Detroit”. Shinola is allowing Detroit to be in forefront to people who like to indulge in the finer things. Although the price tag may seem steep for some of the Shinola goods at first, when you put things in perspective it is worth it. The company has a blue collared product that represents what the city of Detroit is known for: hard work and great quality.
Please visit Shinola’s website to view any of the products featured in this post. All images were taken from their official site.
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We had a great time meeting so many new people tonight! Downtown Detroit was on display in a festive and fun way. We had the pleasure of talking to people from all around the state tonight. Events like the tree lighting, where we all come together to celebrate Detroit, help prove that #DetroitWillNeverDie!
Say Hello To Your New Michigan State Park
Pride: It’s in all of us. Sometimes we allow our pride to get the best of us. It seems that when times are toughest, it is our own pride that holds us back or hinders our ability to think logically and rationally. Could this be the issue that has been holding Belle Isle back from being the best it could be?
There is no doubt that one of the hidden treasures in the city of Detroit is Belle Isle park. Until the state of Michigan took over the island, just days ago, Belle Isle was the largest city owned island park in the country. The historic island is even larger than New York’s famous Central Park. How could Detroiters not be proud of such an asset?
Unfortunately, having such a large park, with a plethora of attractions (an aquarium, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, and the Scott Fountain just to name a few), does not come without a large price tag. Reports show that the city of Detroit, until November 12, 2013, had to make payments of about $6 million annually on the park. Saving the now bankrupt Detroit roughly $6 million a year throughout the duration of the new 30 year lease could equate to about $275 million for the city (factoring in other costs) Myfox Alanta.
From the glory days when the island was filled with sun bathers, bikers, and people riding ponies, to the more recent dark ages when political games and financial hardships forced the city to ignore the natural beauty, the people of Michigan have witnessed Belle Isle in various conditions, much like the city of Detroit itself. What we have left in 2013 is a park that is used and abused by those who enter onto the island. Those who want to enjoy what once was, or what could be, are often met with trash blowing in the wind, locked restrooms, and criminal activity. Yet, even through all the negative, people who remember the island from the past still come back to reminisce.
The State of Michigan is now willing to bring back the days of people canoeing, hiking, and participating in other amenities. The island is now being leased to the state for the next 30 years where the goal is to brush the dust off of the ‘ol beauty and let her shine like the piece of hidden treasure she truly is. Simple things like operating bathrooms, freshly cut grass, and waste management, which had been too expensive for Detroit to provide to Belle Isle goers, is now being implemented. It seems as if the sun is shining over Belle Isle and the previous dark ages are now over.
The state takeover was not met with silence. The decision was reached by a three member panel after the Detroit city council voted down a plan for a state takeover just months ago. Citizens and politicians believe that this type of decision by the panel undermines those who were elected by the citizens of Detroit.This type of overpowering only adds to the already heated issue of Emergency Manager Kevin Orr’s appointment. Orr has arguably stripped the city and its politicians of power. The battle between Orr and Detroit’s municipal government and its citizens has led to a distrust in the state government by city and state politicians along with Detroit’s citizens. Detroiters now feel that they are having historic pieces of their city snatched from them.
The citizens of Detroit have a right to feel as if a part of them has been taken away.The idea of altering the free admission and/or creating other leasing opportunities is not something new with regards to island. However, the time to remove the often costly responsibilities of the city for Belle Isle is ideal at this moment though. Leasing the island would allow for the state to restore a truly unique piece of history and alleviate Detroit’s financial burden. Even if a couple million dollars does not look like a lot in comparison to other debts owed by the city, it is a portion removed so the focus can shift to other issues the city is having.
Now let’s take pride out of the picture for a moment. Without a clouded judgement, the positive side affects of the surrender start to shine through.
Now as a state park, Belle Isle is able to receive benefits that have never been able to apply to the park. The title change allows proper funding and maintenance to be allocated to the island, something that has not been properly achieved in years. The new lease would guarantee the state of Michigan to spend $10-$20 million in renovations and maintenance over the next 3 years.
The island is not the only thing reaping the benefits of the new plan. The city itself will also see benefits from the new state park, ones that will go beyond just that of money. The Michigan State Police have already made adjustments to handle security of the island. These adjustments allow over 20 city police officers to be relocated to “hot spots” of crime elsewhere in the city.
Of course with the good comes questionably negative side affects. One of the key attributes of Belle Isle has been the free admission. Starting in February, to cross the bridge to get on the island an $11 fee/car will be assessed. This is the standard across the state for park admission, and an annual “passport” can be purchased for $11 a year from the Secretary of State. The passport would include admission to Belle Isle along with the 100+ other state parks in Michigan.
As controversial as the admission fee for Belle Isle has been over the years it is what, some say, is the only way to restore the island to its glory days. It is sad to take something that people have enjoyed for so many decades for free and start charging for it. Those opposed to the fee believe that the fee is only being assessed to keep poor people out. It is this type of thinking that has forced the city to disregard the attention the island has needed for years now. Although not everyone who enjoys the island may live in the city of Detroit, we all consider ourselves Detroiters. We need to stop fighting ourselves over why something is being done and really look to avoid repeating history and allowing such a natural beauty to continue to deteriorate.
It seems as if this generation of Detroiters have been treading a lot of uncharted waters, ranging from bankruptcy, to emergency managers, to the assets of the city being sold or leased away. Although people may want to hold onto their pride because it seems it is the only thing left in the city, that can’t be stripped away by an emergency manager or state government. We can not allow pride to cloud our judgement and get in the way of resolutions that may sting at first but will be beneficial in the long run.
So what does this all mean for tourism? A lot!
Belle Isle has always been a hot spot for tourists and residents to go. Now, we are going to see what the state promises to be a new and improved park. With plans of new nature trails for this winter, and improvements on the existing features already on the island for summer, Belle Isle is shaping up to be a great state park. Not to mention Detroit’s new found love for biking being on full display with free admission for cyclists onto the island. We are excited for the future of Belle Isle! This advancement in the city of Detroit’s history is proving yet again: “Detroit Will Never Die”!
What is your opinion on the new “Belle Isle State Park”? Is it good that the state of Michigan decided to push forward with leasing the island, or should they have kept the park to the city to handle?
All photos featured in this post were taken by Faysal Houtait. Please support him by visiting his site: http://www.faysalhoutait.com/
The Real Parts Unknown
In a city where roughly 40% of the street lights are not illuminated, where police response times can take up to an hour, and where crooked politicians have run the show for decades, there is still good to be held. Lately, there seems to be a common trend with documentaries filmed in Detroit: focus on the bad but sprinkle some good on top to appease the locals. But is there enough good portrayed in the hours of footage that have been filmed over the years?
Residents of the state have an issue with those who come to the city to film because they focus on things like ruin porn, crime, and a lack of streetlights. It is not until the last portion of an interview or documentary that things such as a decrease in the crime rate of Midtown, urban farming, and Campus Martius Park are panned on or are a focal point, often times for only a matter of minutes.
On the flip side, those who are not from Detroit immediately write off the city as what Anthony Bourdain called a modern day Chernobyl. These critics come from near and far to offer up an opinion as if they have solved all of Detroit’s issues in one week by spending time there, let alone filming. Sometimes that resolution is just letting the city fail and pretending the citizens are like a proud ship captain who refuses to leave the vessel as she’s sinking. Criticism of why or how prominent professionals in all the various labor fields continue to call Detroit home baffles visitors. How can a cook, a lawyer, or even a musician live in a place where the luxurious upsides of living in a city like Los Angeles, New York, or Chicago arguably don’t exist?
For some people, living in a city or working in their profession goes beyond what they can get out of it; rather they want to know what they can do for their city. It takes a special person to live in a city that clearly has decades of decay and issues to reverse. However, those people strong enough to stick around are true Detroiters. It wasn’t until the Detroit episode of Parts Unknowndid I realize some people just don’t understand the phenomenon of helping a city, your home, even if some things can’t be provided.
There are many efforts around the city of Detroit that filmmakers and photographers seem to ignore. Of course there is always an appeal to street art or ruin porn (look no further than the pictures featured in this post), and only a small group of Detroiters are calling for complete prohibition of these photographs or film footage; yet these are a part of Detroit. Behind every ruin is a history that helped America and Detroit develop into what they are today. The “Arsenal of Democracy,” as Detroit once was called, filled these abandoned buildings with thousands upon thousands of people helping America during wartime. Now people from around the world come to these sites not to pay respect, to arguably the most important city in the world at one time, but to take pictures and walk over the crumbling structures.
As Detroiters and Michiganders we can not expect people to ignore the bad going on in the city, and we all know there is a LOT of it. We do have an expectation of getting what is owed to us. Even during the hard times that the city has fallen on, there have been people both rich and poor, black and white, residents and non-residents, who have collaborated to form community organizations, non-profits, and establishments to take part in the resurrection of Detroit. It is these efforts that need to be the focal point of documentaries, blogs, and interviews, with the bad sprinkled on top. The bad should not be added in to appease anyone, but to show non-Detroiters where we have come from and what it means to be one of us. The bad allows even us as Detroiters and Michiganders to never forget what amazing things we have started to accomplish and what a unique place Detroit has always been.
The two parties, residents and critics, can learn a lot from each other. Although it is hard to accomplish, Detroiters can not go by looking at only the good; there are a lot of bad things going on in the city of Detroit. Decades of neglect have resulted in the issues we see today. Detroit goes beyond the areas of downtown, Corktown, and Midtown. As a critic, an adherence to the the little things that people are doing to change the city needs to be focused in on. As citizens, and even non-citizens of Detroit, there is only so much that can be done or controlled with out involving the notorious crooked municipal government. You better believe that everything that doesn’t involve them is being done. The little things these innovators and entrepreneurs are doing is adding up. Detroit is the new land of opportunity.
With all of the John F. Kennedy documentaries coming out on various television networks and the anniversary of his death quickly approaching, it is hard not to think of his iconic quote: “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”. This mentality has been shared by Michiganders and Detroiters for quite sometime now. It is not about what the city can do for you, but rather what you can do for your city. Outsiders have never been able to grasp the concept of wanting to help a city but expecting nothing in return. Those who support the city know that it is the little things that matter most in Detroit: going downtown and knowing that you can go to Lafayette Coney Island at anytime in the day to get a coney, witnessing the Spirit of Detroit donned with a massive Wings, Tigers, or Pistons jerseys during a championship run, even walking down the street to the local corner store to grab a bag of Better Made chips or a can of Faygo. It is these things that mean the most to Detroiters, not walking down the street to see a Louis Vuitton store or a BMW dealership, but knowing that what you’re doing or indulging in has history dating back longer than that of yourself. In another city you are just another citizen or tourist, but in Detroit you are part of a family, a family that is full of individual members doing amazing things to preserve the decades of history and to continue creating history for decades to come. In Detroit, history is everything and the efforts of its citizens are allowing Detroit to rewrite the books. We the writers can only continue these efforts and simply recite the message: “Detroit Will Never Die”.
As a company, Tuebor Tourism vows to try even harder to help preserve the history of the state of Michigan and the city of Detroit. We want to highlight the little things that go unnoticed by outsiders. If you know of an individual or organization making a difference anywhere in our state, please do not hesitate to request an piece on them. Tuebortourism@gmail.com
Do you have an opinions you want to be heard about any of the recent spotlights on Detroit? We want to hear it! Use any of our social networks or our E-mail to let us know what you think! If you want to contribute to Tuebor’s blog and be a writer about the good things going on in Detroit, feel free to tell us your ideas and we will work with you!
- 650 Staff members work at Bronner’s during the holiday season.
- "Merry Christmas" ornaments are for sale in 70+ languages.
- Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland’s address is 25 Christmas Lane, a 1/2 mile road decorated year round with lights and figures.
- Bronner’s electrical bill is $1,250 A DAY!
- 100,000 postcards are sold yearly
- 700,000 feet of garland are sold each year
- 1.3 million glass ornaments are sold yearly
- 135,000 sets of lights are sold yearly
- 100,000 personalized ornaments are made and sold each year
What’s your favorite Michigan destination? Have an idea for a Tourism Tuesday review? Let us know! E-mail us at Tuebortourism@gmail.com and tell us your ideas.
Tuebor Tourism’s Rating: 5 our of 5 mittens