Surprised? Gentrification pioneer Will Leather Goods closes in Cass Corridor

May 23, 2019 at 5:20 pm
click to enlarge Side of Will Leather Goods, with a South Park reference. - Steve Neavling
Steve Neavling
Side of Will Leather Goods, with a South Park reference.

A high-end leather shop that replaced an affordable grocery store in the Cass Corridor in 2015 has gone out of business and will be replaced with a new restaurant.

Oregon-based Will Leather Goods closed its shop Tuesday at Second Avenue and Alexandrine Street, a few blocks from Shinola, RUNdetroit, Third Man Records, and Jolly Pumpkin on West Canfield Street. The leather store, which sold pricey messenger bags, belts, wallets, and totes, was criticized — and sometimes hailed — as a pioneer of gentrification after replacing Tom Boy Market, which offered affordable food to lower-income Detroiters who had few other options.

Not long after the shop opened, someone scrawled "Shi Tpa Town" on the side of the building, a reference to South Park's commentary on gentrification.

Will Leather Goods owner Will Adler told Crain’s Detroit that the spot was oversized and lacked sufficient foot traffic, but he’s looking to reopen the store in a new location.

"I wanted to ignite something in Midtown when I moved here, but it was tremendously fun to bring the Tom Boy Market back to its original shape," Adler said.

Restauranteur Jeremy Sasson, who owns Prime + Proper and Townhouse in downtown Detroit, plans to open a specialty pizza shop in the 9,000-square-foot space.

"The backbone of the project revolves around naturally fermented, sourdough-starting Neapolitan pizza," Sasson told Crain’s.

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