Dearborn

Young couple starts The Dearborn Shop to promote hometown pride

Lizzie DiMaria grew up in Dearborn, went to Dearborn schools. She left after graduating form Edsel Ford High School but she would soon return. Her future husband Jacob moved here after he got a job at Ford.

Their young love story is a story not dissimilar from several generations of Dearborn couples before them. Where their story diverges is the spark that led to The Dearborn Shop, a new retail business that features Dearborn-branded gifts and apparel, including hats, t-shirts, coffee mugs, and more. They will soon start carrying products from local makers and entrepreneurs; one of their goals is to become a hub for everything local.

“Growing up, my neighbor was basically like my uncle. When he moved out, he gave me one of his old hats,” Lizzie says. “He collected baseball hats everywhere he went; he had hundreds of them. He let me pick some out and one of the ones that I picked was just an old hat that he’s had forever, just an old baseball hat with Dearborn stitched in it. And I loved it.

“I thought, Man, now I want a t-shirt. And now I want a new hat instead of this old one. And, you know, whatever else you can put Dearborn on.”

As time passed, the DiMarias realized that they weren’t the only ones wanting Dearborn-branded apparel. Whether it’s hometown pride or picking up a gift for someone while traveling, city-branded apparel is something that lots of communities have in abundance. So why not here?

As people would compliment Lizzie on her own Dearborn hat, the idea took root.

“We realized that this is something that people have been looking for, a little Dearborn tourist-y shop with the shirts, the hats, the mugs, all the standard stuff. So we just kind of jumped in and did it,” she says.

Jacob and Lizzie DiMaria, co-founders of The Dearborn Shop.The DiMarias found a local graphic designer and got to work, creating the eventual line of apparel and other items emblazoned with their Dearborn brand. One design is a clean, minimalistic font with Dearborn and an outline of the Mitten State. Their own logo features a cartoon drawing of the Cannoli Pastry, Dearborn Historical Museum, and Wagner Place buildings.

While their own products are first to debut, there is a second component of the Dearborn Shop business model that other local makers, artists, and entrepreneurs should find interesting. The Dearborn Shop’s goal is to become a go-to source for locally-made products, a one-stop shop for things designed and made in the city.

“It'll be a space for people to go to find locally-made items,” Lizzie says. “I noticed that when you Google locally-made things in Dearborn, or small businesses in Dearborn, there's not a ton that comes up —  as far as artisans and things that people make. There's obviously small businesses and restaurants and stuff like that, but not as far as the makers go. We just want to build a space for them to be able to sell their products.”

The Dearborn Shop will operate, for now, as a pop-up retail shop and online store. The goal is to eventually open a storefront in the city, but after investigating some opportunities, the DiMarias opted for a pop-up and online model in order to conserve their resources as they get established.

“We realized that this is something that people have been looking for, a little Dearborn tourist-y shop with the shirts, the hats, the mugs, all the standard stuff. So we just kind of jumped in and did it,” Lizzie says.Their first pop-up will take place at this year’s Edison Street Sale, which is scheduled for Saturday, June 5. You can find them on Edison Street near Beech, where they’ll be selling their own products as well as a few from local makers. Their online store will open after that.

“While our shop will also support people from outside of Dearborn, we're gonna have a hard focus on the creators in Dearborn that make their stuff here,” Lizzie says.

“I think it's important to support the people that are your neighbors and your friends and live in the same area as you. Then that money stays in the local economy, it stays in the city, and it supports a lot more than just us.”

Read more articles by MJ Galbraith.

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