It wasn’t the iconic, American-made watches that brought Brent Johnson of Minneapolis into Shinola’s new store in the Galleria on Thursday.
“I’m at the point in my life where I’m buying things that will last beyond me — something I can pass down to my kids,” Johnson said as he looked over a leather duffel.
Shinola, the Detroit-based fashion brand that started in 2011 after purchasing the name rights of a once-famous shoe polish, has extended its reach from finely crafted watches to bicycles, leather bags, wall clocks, turntables, speakers, earbuds and jewelry. Its new store in the Galleria shows more of that reach than the location in the North Loop that it closed earlier this year.
“Shinola offers beautiful merchandise of sterling quality,” said Wendy Eisenberg, general manager of the Galleria. “They’ve expanded the product line from their North Loop location. They carry a lot more watches, too.”
The company, which stresses the reinvigoration of American branding and manufacturing, has an expansive product reach, but executives said that all the products share a commitment to quality and ingenuity.
Its prices, which reflect high design and American labor, fit well in the Galleria’s affluent atmosphere. Its Runwell turntables sell for $2,500 and $3,500. Some leather bags top $1,300. Most of the watches sell for $550 to $1,500.
Some might say the company is diversifying its products for a generation that only checks time on a cellphone, but store officials said even heavy cellphone users wear their watch as an accessory, a piece of jewelry or a conversation starter.
“We’re about building well-made, beautifully crafted, and thoughtfully designed products across all of the categories we offer,” Alex Drinker, Shinola’s vice president of marketing, said via e-mail.
For example, one of the women’s watch lines is called the “Birdy” as a flip way of thumbing their nose at critics. An ad in the New York Times announced in 2015, “To those who’ve written off Detroit, we give you The Birdy.” Its new commemorative line of watches celebrates the Statue of Liberty.
Store representatives said they left the North Loop location earlier in March after four years because traffic never picked up as much as they had hoped. “We closed our North Loop store to expand our presence in both store size and product assortment,” said Drinker. “Edina Galleria provides our consumer more convenience, accommodation and access to a broader landscape of shopping and entertainment.”
The North Loop store was a combination of Filson clothing and accessories for outdoor enthusiasts as well as Shinola. It was an experiment after both lines were purchased by Bedrock Manufacturing in Dallas. Bedrock was started by Tom Kartsotis, who founded Fossil watches.
The new Galleria store, Shinola’s 31st, is across the hall from Crave restaurant in space that was occupied by Ribnick Outerwear during last year’s holiday season.