Watchmaker with a cycling bent opens for business in Detroit

Photo courtesy of Joe Parkin

Photo courtesy of Joe Parkin

[This story originally appeared in Paved magazine]

"Is that you, man?" I asked, pointing in the general direction of a set of framed portraits lining a wall of Shinola's Midtown Detroit store.

"Yeah, that's me," he answered, smiling proudly.

At 7:00 a.m. on Friday, June 28, Shinola opened its first Flagship Store to a long line of people anxious to spend some cash and soak up the Shinola vibe. I was there the night before, taking in the scene, and talking with one of Shinola's watchmakers. The crowd was made up of Shinola employees and their families and a select group of local business and community luminaries.

"Are you from here—from Detroit?" I asked.

"Detroit born and raised," he answered without missing a beat. "I never thought I'd be making watches, but it's pretty cool."

The former Willys Overland warehouse enhances the Shinola store's Motor City vibe; photo courtesy of Joe Parkin

The former Willys Overland warehouse enhances the Shinola store’s Motor City vibe; photo courtesy of Joe Parkin

Having been born in the Great Lakes state I'll admit a certain bias toward the Motor City, but the mood and atmosphere at Shinola's store-launch party was incredible—inspiring. There was a definite sense of pride among the Shinola folks I met, perhaps something that stems from actually making things by hand, or playing some other role in a company whose product offering is so beautifully reminiscent of old-fashioned, American-made quality.

Lugged-steel frame, old-school cranks, chain guard: sexy; photo courtesy of Joe Parkin

Lugged-steel frame, old-school cranks, chain guard: sexy; photo courtesy of Joe Parkin

Not your ordinary bike shop

As with your typical copy of Paved magazine, if you're hell-bent on talking wattage, electronic shifting, aerodynamics or weight savings in grams, Shinola's D-town store is probably not going to be your No. 1 choice for cycling goodies. However, if you have a discerning eye for lovely leather goods, journals, timepieces, and handmade steel bicycles—as well as a varying collection of other fashion-forward, American-crafted fineries—you owe yourself a visit to 441 West Canfield Street next time you're in town.

The Bixby mixte goes perfect with pink; photo courtesy of Joe Parkin

The Bixby mixte goes perfect with pink; photo courtesy of Joe Parkin

Not only does this new location—formerly a Willys Jeep warehouse—offer customers a hands-on experience with the Shinola brand, it also serves as the bicycle-assembly facility. Drop in, choose between the $2,950 Runwell or the $1,950 Bixby, decide the color that best represents you, and then head on over to the bar for some refreshing, cold-pressed Drought juice while you wait for one of Shinola's mechanics to put the final touches on your new ride. And drink quickly, because you'll want a little time to pick out the right watch to complement your bike.

Pick a color; photo courtesy of Joe Parkin

Pick a color; photo courtesy of Joe Parkin