With the opening of Shinola’s flagship store, American manufacturing is back on the streets of Tribeca. Located at 177 Franklin Street between Hudson and Greenwich, the Detroit-based brand brings the classic American dream back to a neighborhood known more for its luxury condos than handmade goods.
Shinola, with the fitting slogan “Where American is made,” has its roots planted deep in American manufacturing, starting out as a shoe polish company at the turn of the century before ultimately folding in 1960. This year, the brand has returned, offering a variety of hand-crafted American-made goods ranging from leather-bound pens to watches to bicycles.
Walk through the doors and grab a coffee and a quick bite from the in-house barista, brought to you by our friends from The Smile, before you make your way to the merchandise. With your caffeine fix taken care of, step into a high-ceilinged, industrial oasis with product displays as aesthetically pleasing as they are functional – all to be expected from the design-conscious brand. By this time, you’ve probably been approached by at least one associate, eager to share the rich history of the brand and its recent revival.
After taking a closer look at the surrounding merchandise, you’ll begin to realize this isn’t just a place where you can pick up a gift for anyone on your list, but also feel good about supporting a brand doing what they can do to reinvigorate the American manufacturing industry. And supporting a brand from an all-American city like Detroit, which has fallen on hard times due to the recession, which hit Detroit’s automobile industry hard, you’ll feel even better.
You can’t go wrong with any of the hand-made leather goods, as Shinola sources their leathers from one of the oldest tanneries in the United States. Don’t forget to check out the watches, all assembled by hand in Detroit featuring customizable faces and leather bands. While it may seem odd to hear of a Detroit-made watch, Shinola partnered with a manufacturer from Switzerland to supply the parts and train the employees who are building these watches piece-by-piece in their Detroit assembly center.
In a video on the manufacturing process, they mention that while many of their employees have never built watches, many of them used to work on automobile assembly lines when the auto industry was in its heyday. Now that new engines in the Motor City are fewer and farther between, Shinola’s dedication to reviving the local economy and American manufacturing is quite apparent.
Bicycles are everywhere – suspended from the ceiling and affixed to the walls – and even a few on the floor for customers to take a closer look at. You’ll instantly see the attention to detail, from every wheel spoke to handlebar, and supple leather accents add palpable integrity to the bikes. Be sure to ask an associate to take one for a quick test ride on the West Side Highway for some great views of the city and river as well.
And even if you don’t leave sitting comfortably in the saddle of a bicycle or with a new timepiece on your wrist, picking up some of Shinola’s shoe polish might not be a bad idea, especially on the tough cobblestone streets of Tribeca.