Dwell Magazine Loves This Detroit Shop

Detroit design shop Hugh sells vintage and vintage-inspired contemporary furniture, housewares, and grooming items.

When stepping into Hugh, a design shop in burgeoning Midtown Detroit, a slew of objects vie for your attention—the vintage Kalmar bar tools on a shelf laden with Tapio Wirkkala glassware, the George Nelson Bubble lamps overhead, and the library of books ranging from a monograph on Saul Bass to a tome on surfing at Echo Beach, to name a few.

To stock Hugh's shelves, proprietor Joe Posch relies on local resources: "I look anywhere there's a chance I'll find something—a garage sale, a Salvation Army," he says, "never online and I don't do Craigslist. The trick isn't that there's a single special source for vintage; the trick is persistence." The pieces are heavily 1950s and 1960s with a bit of 1970s thrown into the mix. Posch earned his retail stripes at Mezzanine, a shop he opened in the late 1990s in Ann Arbor. Mezzanine initially offered vintage goods and then moved to new pieces from Knoll, Herman Miller, and Modernica. Posch then relocated to Detroit in 2006. After the economy nosedived and the demand for high-end furniture waned, Posch dabbled in pop-up shops, a strategy he advocates for enterprising small businesses interested in operating in cities that face similar challenges as Detroit. "If your city has areas that are emerging but untested for retail, consider trying things out as a pop-up, if you can," he says. "Locate near friends or other people who are doing similar businesses. When it comes to community retail, two stores don't split the pot, they double it."

Hugh first began as a pop-up in 2009 and became the brick-and-mortar shop it is today after Posch won the first-ever Hatch Detroit Prize. One of the handful of initiatives and organizations that seek to advance local businesses and entrepreneurs in the city—such as Culture Lab Detroit and the Detroit Creative Corridor Center—Hatch awards grants to spur local redevelopment.

"There are many areas ripe for resurgence in the city and neighborhood businesses are the core elements in making these places great," Posch says. "Hatch Detroit does an amazing job promoting that ethos. Like most people who grew up here, moved away and then came back, I have a complicated relationship with the city, but the older I got the more I realized that's what I like about it. I have roots here. Aside from that, people here are very open and friendly and it was easy to make new friends. Those things, combined with the low barrier to entry and the boot-strappiness of the small biz community, are what drew me back to Detroit ten years ago and what make me want to stay today."

Next up for Posch: an online shop specializing in rare and vintage design books.

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