Detroit Shipping Company Makes Retail Space Available to Black Businesses

The Shop is a free, rotating retail space for local Black-owned businesses.

Detroit Shipping Company

In the wake of what happened to George Floyd and at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, we saw a slew of mainstream brands speak up and out. Some were embarrassingly called out for hypocrisy and what felt like bandwagon performance, but others have shown an intentional commitment to supporting the Black community in real ways that may actually help move the needle. In June, Detroit Shipping Company reinvented its retail space, dubbing it “The Shop” and promising it rent-free to local Black-owned businesses on a rotating schedule for at least one year.

Owner Jon Hartzell says, “We wanted to be purposeful about letting the world know that we are in Detroit, and Detroit is 70% African American” – closer to 80%, actually – “and we wanted to represent that in our retail opportunity here.” He says they took care to make clear that they didn’t intend to step on any toes, but to instead act as a supporting partner, each arm exposing the other to their respective clientele.

The program received about 35 applicants, Hartzell says. The first resident was David Vintage, on board through the end of the November. Now up is Eumelanin, the fashion brand that plays to and celebrates the most abundant type of melanin found in brown skin and hair. They’re locked in until the end of February. “(Eumelanin owner Deirdre Roberson) is a great collaborator for us in that space in that weird transitional moment,” Hartzell says, speaking to the December retail boom that slingshots into a start-of-year lull.

DSC general manager Matthew Zacklan says they’ll work to expose different types of businesses, allowing them each creative control over the space while continuing to center inclusivity and a model that reflects the city. “We wanted to give back,” Zacklan says, “whatever we can do to support the community, to support local small businesses.”

474 Peterboro St., Detroit

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