Athletic apparel and shoe maker Under Armour opened an artsy, high-tech store in downtown along Woodward on Wednesday, the latest effort to revitalize the street’s retail scene that was snuffed out partly by the suburban mall.
Now, as many suburban shopping malls and national retailers are struggling for survival, Under Armour joins the handful of retailers trying to stem that tide by opening outlets downtown on Woodward and its neighboring streets.
Just across the street, the local organic Avalon International Breads opens its Woodward bakery and café on Friday. Earlier this year, the men’s clothier Bonobos opened a “guideshop” at 1417 Woodward, where customers come in to try on clothes they must purchase online. Last year, Nike opened a “community store” at 1261 Woodward.
All of those stores are on the stretch of Woodward — essentially from Campus Martius to Grand Circus Park — that was the hub of Detroit retail for decades. But starting in the mid-20th century, the stores began to vanish as city population declined and suburban malls reigned.
Now, Woodward’s nascent retail revival comes at a time when malls and big chains are closing at an alarming rate that analysts attribute mainly to the shift to online shopping. Local retail analyst Kenneth Dalto forecasts 8,500 store closings nationwide this year.
“What you are seeing on downtown Woodward Avenue is a response to that overall retail scene. It’s niche, it’s unique, it’s not just shopping, but office workers, residents, visitors — a city,” Dalto said, who runs Kenneth J. Dalto & Associates in Bingham Farms.
The 17,000-square-foot Under Armour “Brand House” at 1201 Woodward exhibits plenty of Detroit love in the two-story building. There are shoes with Detroit–themed designs, including one that pays tribute to Hitsville, USA, the former Motown recording studio, and one in the pattern of…