Shop Small: How to Support Local Retailers During the Pandemic

Metro Detroit stores are pushing through the pandemic

Business ground to a halt for many local shops in March, when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Stay Safe, Stay Home executive order and the rapid spread of COVID-19 threw a wrench into the local economy. As the future for metro Detroit businesses remains perilous, we’ve rounded up a list of local retail and services that are trying to make the best of the situation, along with ways you can support them remotely.

Art & Home

28 Furniture Co. - local retail
Home décor shop 28 Furniture Co., have adjusted their operations to best serve their customers during these challenging times. // Photograph courtesy of 28 Furniture Co.

Love Travels Imports

Customers can buy handmade goods from Africa, South Asia, and Central America from the artisan shop through its website. The shop has introduced two collections that encourage healthy living and acknowledge the beauty in life — gentle reminders that are much needed these days. Little Friends is a collection of doll pillows handmade in Haiti. Each doll pillow comes with a story and a secret pocket to hold a special item. Customers can also preorder metal luminaries handcrafted in Haiti from The Gratitude Collection. “This collection comes out of the importance of remembering how blessed we are no matter what,” shop owner Yvette Jenkins says. “Being grateful is so powerful, yet so healing.” Love Travels Imports, 19452 Livernois Ave., Detroit; 313-623-5800;

Rock Paper Scissors

The purveyor of pithy greeting cards, home goods, and apparel offers custom-made quarantine care kits, available to buy online. The Social Distancing gift box comes with your favorite snack, a trivia game, and other goodies, while the Kiddo Stay at Home gift box is customized to your kids’ ages and genders and includes art supplies, toys, and books to keep them busy. Send love and support to your fellow parent-turned-teacher with the So You’re a Homeschool Teacher Now card kit, complete with six greeting cards and postage stamps. Rock Paper Scissors, 216 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; 734-531-6264; 

28 Furniture Co.

“We went from only a brick-and-mortar store to a fully functional online shopping experience in a matter of days,” says Jen Tomlinson, co-owner of the Plymouth home décor shop. New products are added almost daily to the 28 Furniture Co. site, where customers can shop for plants, vases, artwork, and other trinkets. The business is also sharing decorating tips on social media, from how to style a media cabinet to ways to keep your coffee table simple. 28 Furniture Co. is offering curbside pickup and over-the-phone shopping. 28 Furniture Co., 627 S. Main St., Plymouth; 248-719-4985;

Post by Mutual Adoration

The craft workshop, production studio, and handmade goods store encourages purchasing gift cards that are redeemable toward workshop registration fees, as well as items available online and in the shop. Their craft workshop programs are tentatively set to resume in late spring and early summer, with fan favorites such as woodworking, natural dyeing, weaving, and screen printing. Post by Mutual Adoration, 14500 Kercheval St., Detroit; 313-939-2172;

Clothing & Accessories

the dirt label - local retail
Social Distance (black) Tee, $34, at The Dirt Label; // Photograph courtesy of The Dirt Label

The Dirt Label

The brand — which offers apparel featuring playful graphics nodding to sports, politics, and pop culture — created Social Distance Social Club T-shirts and hoodies in response to COVID-19. Fifty percent of proceeds from the sale of the collection, which is available online, will go to local nonprofit organizations supporting families during the pandemic, such as Gleaners Community Food Bank and Shelters of Love. The Dirt Label, 319 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak; 248-268-3462;

Brightly Twisted

The apparel shop and dye studio is creating face masks for health workers. Brightly Twisted is dedicating 20% of sales of its best-selling Lima cotton distressed crewneck to face mask supplies and production. While the business isn’t taking personal requests for masks since the ones created are going to hospital and essential personnel, Brightly Twisted provides downloadable face mask patterns on its website so you can make your own at home. Customers can continue buying other hand-dyed apparel and accessories online, and donations to the store are encouraged. Brightly Twisted, 1418 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 248-310-8579;

Lil’ Rascals of Birmingham

The children’s boutique has created the Rascal Box, a custom-curated box of items such as clothing, toys, books, and body care. The boxes, which are sent directly to your home, can be purchased by phone or social media. The shop is also offering free shipping, curbside pickup, and local delivery within a 15-mile radius of the store. Lil’ Rascals of Birmingham, 580 N. Old Woodward Ave., Birmingham; 248-731-7701;

Sundance Shoes

Shop by phone, Instagram, or Facebook to receive a customized Sundance Fun Box filled with shoes and apparel sent directly to your home. The shoe store is also connecting with customers by sharing must-have items from sneakers to cozy loungewear through its IGTV videos on Instagram. Sundance Shoes, 235 S. Old Woodward Ave., Birmingham; 248-385-5960; 6915 Orchard Lake Road, West Bloomfield; 248-737-9059;

Busted Bra Shop

The specialty shop carries bras in cup sizes AA to O and band sizes 28 to 54 to fit any woman’s needs. Shoppers can learn how to size themselves from home through the store’s social media videos, and fitters are available to consult individuals by phone. “What we provide in the city is unique,” says store owner Lee Padgett. Busted Bra Shop, 14401 E. Jefferson Ave., Detroit; 313-288-0449;

Coup D’état

The women’s clothing boutique is offering FaceTime styling appointments. During these video calls, owner Angela Wisniewski gives first-time shoppers a “walk-through” of the store. For those who already know what they’d like, clients can view their selected items and receive new suggestions based on their wants. Free of charge, the video appointments can last anywhere between 10 minutes to several hours if needed. Wisniewski is also crafting more creative ways to market the shop and its products, such as live styling sessions. Coup D’état, 3044 W. Grand Blvd., Ste. L-460, Detroit; 313-782-4480;

Specialty Shops & Services

bee waxed cosmetics - local retail
Give yourself some much-needed TLC with Bee Waxed Cosmetics’ all-natural Bee Scrubbed pumice scrub ($60), and Bee Relieved topical cream ($40), available at // Photograph by Olivia Seyfarth

The Lipstick Journey

A survivor who fought cancer for more than 10 years, owner Anna Warner-Mayes knows how to stay hopeful during times of trial and encourages her customers to help others do the same by supporting the fight against cancer. When purchasing one of the brand’s lipsticks online, customers can choose a cancer fighter or survivor to send a free lipstick to, or partial proceeds will go to one of the cancer organizations the business partners with. The lip color Promise — which Warner-Mayes says represents the hope we all need right now — is $4 off, and the brand is offering free shipping on all products. See to shop. 

Canine to Five

In an effort to relieve first responders, hospital staff, and other essential workers of some of their pet responsibilities while working long hours away from their pups, Canine to Five’s dog day care and boarding operations remain available to these clients only, on a reservation-only basis. The business maintains limited hours and staff. Supporters can continue buying gift cards and day care packages online or by phone. Individuals who are members of Canine to Five’s preferred employer program, such as the city of Detroit, Detroit Medical Center, and Henry Ford Health System, receive 10% off day care packages and boarding stays. Canine to Five, 3443 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-831-3647; 1221 E. Nine Mile Road, Ferndale; 248-556-5675; 

City Bark

The pet supply store created Quarantine Boredom kits, complete with treats and toys to keep your dog or cat busy. A $5 gift card is included in each kit to use on your next purchase. These kits and other pet goods are available online. City Bark is also providing curbside pickup, free shipping, and free same-day delivery service for residents within a 20-mile radius of the store. City Bark, 1222 Griswold St., Detroit; 313-881-2275;

Bee Waxed Cosmetics

The waxing salon offers its 100% natural, paraben-free, and certified vegan skin care online to buy, from pumice scrubs to remove dead skin cells to daily-use serums for sensitive skin. Product names like “Bee Relieved” and “Bee Calm” are indicative of the relaxation you can expect from Bee Waxed Cosmetics’ items. See to shop. 

Thrive Hot Yoga

Studio members can partake in classes such as Inferno Hot Pilates, vinyasa yoga, and guided relaxations with Thrive’s member online video portal. Those who maintain their membership payments during this time will receive loyalty perks for the rest of the year, including product discounts, special guest passes, and discounts on retreats. See to sign up. 

Between the Lines

Independent bookstores seek support from their communities
pages bookshop
Photograph courtesy of Pages Bookshop

Local indie bookstores such as Pages Bookshop of Detroit, Book Beat of Oak Park, and Nicola’s Books of Ann Arbor are striving to continue providing customers the joy of a good read.

Supporters can start a membership with the audiobook subscription service, with which Pages Bookshop, Book Beat, Nicola’s Books, and other Michigan indie bookstores are partnered. The Seattle-based audiobook company is the first of its kind to directly support independent bookstores, where profits are split 50/50 with the bookstores it has partnered with. Customers can buy single audiobooks or buy monthly memberships for themselves or others and choose the bookstore they want proceeds to go to. *

At Pages Bookshop, you can donate to The Free Black Women’s Library — an interactive black feminist mobile trading library — by buying any of the more than 80 books written by black women on Pages’ online list. At Book Beat, find rare books, collectible art, and children’s books through the shop’s store, where the Oak Park retailer updates inventory daily and ships orders within 24 hours.

Anyone looking to brush up on their Ann Arbor history can buy out-of-print titles on the city’s past, books on the early history of the University of Michigan, and city directories from Nicola’s Books. Readers can continue to shop online from each of these bookstores, buy gift cards and certificates, sign up for newsletters, and follow their social media for updates. 

Pages Bookshop,19560 Grand River Ave., Detroit; 313-473-7342; Book Beat, 26010 Greenfield Road, Oak Park; 248-968-1190; Nicola’s Books, 2513 Jackson Ave., Ann Arbor;