Avenue of Fashion retailers search for ways to bring more foot traffic

Detroit’s Avenue of Fashion has many shopping and entertainment experiences to offer: a unique makeup and massage experience, stores with fitted suits and matching shoes, live Gospel jazz music that floods the streets and more.

But since the pandemic started, the needs of those who visit businesses along Livernois, between 7 and 8 Mile, have changed. The demand for custom suits, for example, has grown on the avenue for pastors and, unfortunately, funeral attendees. 

 Businesses were already struggling before the coronavirus hit. Construction on Livernois of a new streetscape had slowed the flow of customers to shops. Add the coronavirus pandemic, and many businesses are fighting to stay afloat as winter approaches. 

“As they were just beginning to recuperate from the construction, the pandemic hit,” said Mark Lee of The LEE Group, a business marketing consulting firm. “As a result of that, a lot of the businesses took a significant financial hit. Some are on the verge of opening, some had to delay their openings, as well as some (who) did not open at all.”

Tauntus Cosmetics and Beauty Bar exterior at the Livernois Avenue store on Sept. 23, 2020. Many shops along Livernois Avenue near Seven Mile in Detroit are clawing back from first, road construction and second, the pandemic.

Businesses say they are not seeing much traffic from Detroit residents, and they attribute that to people whom they describe as not comfortable with shopping in person because of coronavirus concerns.

Normal traffic of students from surrounding institutions, such as the University of Detroit Mercy and Marygrove College’s Marygrove Conservancy, has slowed as well, they say.

“They’ve been patronizing some of the businesses that are open around here,”  U-D Mercy President Antoine Garibaldi said of the students. “They couldn’t do too much during the summertime because they weren’t around here, and there weren’t too many [stores] available.”

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