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Carhartt Invests More in Michigan

by Lisa Diggs

First Moosejaw made the move, then it was world-renown designer and Michigan native, John Varvatos. Now, the latest company to join a growing list of unique, and well-known brands with a retail location in Detroit is Carhartt. Established in 1889, Carhartt is a global work wear brand that is headquartered in Dearborn, Michigan.


The company has a rich heritage of developing rugged apparel for workers on and off the job, so a store in a blue collar city like Detroit only makes sense. Interestingly, the location they’ve chosen is also in close proximity to Wayne State University, which may prove to be a great target audience for both the style and price points of Carhartt. While The Detroit store is actually the twentieth retail location in the company’s portfolio, it is clear the hometown connection is a source of pride.


Marked with a spectacular mural designed by a Carhartt employee that pays homage to laborers, the building, at 5800 Cass Avenue, is even visible from the I-94 expressway. The store is the original home of the Marmon Motors auto dealership and, for 40-plus years, was the home of Cass Motors. It was constructed in 1928 by famed local architect Charles Agree, following an art deco design and construction, to serve as an automobile showroom. While the first floor holds the store’s retail space, plans for the second and third floors have yet been decided. The building also features 75-plus secure parking spaces in the attached garage. The exterior and interior contain photos and quotes as a salute to the hardworking community that is the staple of Carharrt’s customer base.


More than a hundred people were on hand for the grand opening, which took place in late August 2015. Attendees ranged from dignitaries like Mayor Duggan’s Chief of Staff, Alexis Wiley and Midtown Detroit’s Executive Director, Sue Mosey, to students from nearby Wayne State University. There were also many local residents and Carharrt enthusiasts on site eager to explore the new facility. Some waited in line to get a free t-shirt, while others wanted to just explore the building. Most importantly though, many began buying as soon as they walked through the door.


“Today is a remarkable day in Carhartt’s history as we celebrate the opening of our flagship store in Detroit where we were established 126 years ago,” said Mark Valade, CEO and chairman of the board. “We are proud to be a part of such a hard-working, industrious community,” Valade added.


The new presence in Detroit is just another cog in Carharrt’s wheel of commitment to Michigan. Last year they partnered with another iconic local brand, Stormy Kromer, to create a cap that combined Carharrt fabric and a Stormy Kromer design. They also collaborated with New Holland Brewing Company on the launch of Carharrt Woodsman, a barrel aged pale ale.


This month New Holland and Carhartt are taking to the road to meet their customers and launch the 2015 edition of Carhartt Woodsman. They’ll trek from Empire, Michigan, the home of their cascade hops, through Detroit and eventually on to Denver for the Great American Beer Festival.  The troupe includes singer songwriters, a beer artist and New Holland’s own Beervangelist. They will host a series of public launch events sharing Carhartt Woodsman and other New Holland beers and spirits, everywhere they go. Here are the Michigan dates if you want to get in on the fun.


Wednesday, Sept 16th – Tour kickoff  tapping at New Holland Pub on 8th, Holland, MI / 4pm

Thursday, Sept 17th – Empire Hops Farm Wagon Tours, Empire, MI / 2-5 pm

Thursday, Sept 17th – Joe’s Friendly Tavern, Empire, MI / 7-11 pm

Friday, Sept 18th – Earthwork Harvest Gathering, Lakeview, MI / On stage 4-5 pm

Saturday, Sept 19th – Carhartt Store, Detroit, MI / 4-7 pm

Saturday, Sept. 19th – Hopcat Detroit, Detroit, MI / 8 pm-Midnight


The best part about the tour is that it will raise funds for Glen Arbor Disaster Relief. The area near Sleeping Bear Dunes was devastated by recent storms. That’s a mission that is well-suited to both of these deeply rooted Michigan companies. 

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