Art gallery and gift shop opens in Berkley, showcases Michigan makers and international artisans

There's a new shop in downtown Berkley, one that peddles stories much as it does wares.

Vitrine Gallery & Gifts opened Saturday, Dec. 9, and owner Susan Rogal is eager to share the stories behind the products she sells. Rogal carries a range of items, from artwork to beauty products, handmade jewelry, and food.

Each piece either comes from Michigan makers or international artisans and all on a Fair Trade standard. Attached to the items she sells are photos and profiles of the people who make them. There's a monitor above the register that plays videos of the makers themselves, as well as music videos of local bands.

In telling these artists' stories, Rogal wants to connect her customers to the makers, transporting them to different studios around the world, and all from her shop on Coolidge Highway.

"That personal touch is something we've lost. Everything is mass-produced these days," Rogal says. "I watch the videos playing, and it renews my energy. It reminds me why I'm doing what I do."

Vitrine also serves as the studio for Rogal's other business, ArtWear Detroit. The company takes local artworks and puts them on clothing, accessories, and housewares, which are available at the store. The shop has become the flagship store for Kari Hughes's Buy the Change line, too. Hughes travels the world and collects the stories and products from women, and also on a Fair Trade basis.

The storefront shares a building, and interior doorway with Holy Cannoli and Rogal plans many a collaboration with the bakery in the years to come.

Rogal is high on her Berkley location. She's worked hard to make the design of the store as appealing as the art itself. Berkley is on the cusp of something big, she says and deserves the attention.

"I work out of a lot of co-op galleries, and everybody's talking about Berkley," says Rogal. "Berkley is synonymous with having a lot of great places to shop. We're just one more."

Vitrine Gallery & Gifts is located at 2758 Coolidge Hwy. in downtown Berkley.

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.