Detroit Vs. Everybody Reopens in District Detroit

By Sean Copeland, Contributing Writer

Just a few weeks ago, Detroit Vs. Everybody had their grand reopening in the District Detroit area of downtown right before the holidays. The new location is at 44 W. Columbia St. near the Fox Theater, and neighboring businesses include JoJo’s Shake Bar, Sahara Restaurant and Grill, and Frita Batidos. The District Detroit area has experienced rapid growth in the last few years as restaurants and retail have been filling in the space. Detroit Vs. Everybody is sure to be a welcome addition to the area. After a partial collapse at their previous Eastern Market location, the store was scrambling to get an answer from the city and their landlord about what the future of their flagship retail location would look like. The Eastern Market location had been scheduled for demolition, but the city reversed its decision and decided to preserve the building via repairs after preservationists fought to keep it open. Still, though, that left DVE in search of a new location, which they found in District Detroit.

A Brand With A Purpose

Founded and owned by Tommey Walker in 2012, the famed local brand has since spread to national attention. The name Detroit Vs. Everybody was a slogan that conveyed determination, resurgence, and, most importantly, resilience. Detroit has historically been seen as a city of ruins, crime, and destruction, but the clothing brand’s simple but powerful slogan was used to combat that often damaging narrative. Detroit vs. Everybody has emerged to become one of the premiere lifestyle brands in the city and has attracted the attention of dignitaries and celebrities alike. The slogan even inspired a song, Detroit Vs. Everybody from the 2014 album Shady XV features Eminem, Royce da 5’9”, Big Sean, and other notable local rappers for those unfamiliar with the brand, Detroit Vs. Everybody carries a wide range of apparel and accessories. T-shirts, sweatshirts, beanies, and hoodies make up some of the apparel items, while backpacks, coasters, mugs, and ornaments are included in the accessories. The store also carries unique items like baby bibs, pillows, luggage tags, and tote bags. The Vs. Everybody’s brand has since become synonymous with courage. At one time, multiple cities around the country had merch. It has also spread globally to include areas in Europe and Africa. Currently, London and Brixton have merchandise, and there is a backpack collection that includes multiple countries in Africa in its design. The brand has even tackled social justice and global crises with items such as Everybody vs. COVID-19, items that were available during the height of the global pandemic. The brand has even humorously tackled local sports with products that read Detroit Vs. The Refs. Detroit Vs. Everybody has also had collaborations in the past. In February 2021, in celebration of the Gucci store opening on Library Street, Walker collaborated with Gucci on a limited edition collection entitled Gucci Vs. Everybody. The collection was housed in-store only at the time.

A Joyous Reopening

For the reopening, the store held a ribbon cutting ceremony at its new location on Columbia St. This saw the likes of Mayor Mike Duggan, Councilman Fred Durhal III, and Keith Bradford, president of Olympia Entertainment and District Detroit, in attendance. Tommey Walker and Sean Williams, Detroit Vs. Everybody CEO was also present. Those in attendance praised the decision of the store being opened in the area as a beacon of hope for Black and minority-owned businesses.

“Today, we gather not only to celebrate the birth of a new business in the District Detroit but also to honor and amplify the voices of Black entrepreneurship in the heart of the city. Today, this celebration is particularly close to my heart as I get to see one of our core values being realized, and that is economic inclusion”, said Rian English Barnhill, Vice President of Government Community Affairs for Olympia Development of Michigan. Barnhill finished her remarks before introducing Mayor Duggan.

“This is a special day. The Detroit Vs. Everybody brand has brought us international attention and captured the spirit of the city.” Duggan remarked. Continuing on, he recognized Christopher Ilitch and the Ilitch organization for providing recommendations for the current space. Also, giving some history behind the Columbia St. space, Duggan revealed that thirty years ago, Marian Ilitch drew a map of how the space could be a “vibrant corridor and room for all kinds of businesses that represent the city. We’ve benefitted enormously.”

The District Detroit area has now become a place where minority businesses have opened and are flourishing. The popular bakery Good Cakes and Bakes recently joined the area. Durhal III praised the direction of the Columbia Street corridor. “It’s an honor to be here today. Who thought 30 years ago that we’d see what we see? Most importantly, right here in the heart of Midtown close to Downtown Detroit, we would have so many minority businesses in this corridor. That is a testament to the commitment from the Ilitch family.” Further praising the brand, Durhal continued, “Detroit Vs. Everybody is more than a mantra; it is something that is spread across the world and what we live by.” Durhal continued with a witty story of how he was in Washington, D.C., when wearing one of the brand’s shirts and was asked about its meaning. Durhal told the person to “Google it” and hilariously repeated the brand’s original mission. For those unfamiliar with that mission, Detroit Vs. Everybody started to unite the city of Detroit while politely “flipping the bird” to the rest of the world. Throughout the opening, that unapologetic spirit was praised and encouraged to keep on uniting the city. In his closing remarks, Durhal encouraged the brand’s owners to keep pushing forward and to inspire young children in Detroit’s neighborhoods to know that they can one day become small business owners and entrepreneurs.

“Nothing can make me more proud as when you do all this work and when it aligns with the values that you’re trying to put forth, it just makes it so much more rewarding. Today is about the recognition of those values and making sure that we’re bringing forth economic inclusion for all Detroit businesses here. It’s just a shining example of that”, Bradford remarked.

Finally rising to the podium, Walker thanked everyone for coming out to support his brand and overall vision while sharing that it was one of the most challenging experiences to open the new location. This has been the ninth location as a company. His team experienced trials and tribulations. Although the store was set to open in November, the side of the building where the store is located fell off when the launch was to be announced. After allowing himself about five seconds to feel upset, he decided to keep going. Thankfully, the city of Detroit and Olympia Entertainment rallied around him to support his endeavors to make the opening come to fruition.

“I actually envisioned this moment,” Walker said. Speaking on the origin of the brand, Walker reflected on his mission. “I had an idea. I really saw that the creative forces that are coming out of the city of Detroit have been going on for a while. But, Detroit wasn’t being shown. I wanted to see what I could do to use the platform that I’d been building to tell the true narrative of what was going on in the city of Detroit. It is one of perseverance, creativity, and moving forward.”

He expressed his happiness and gratitude for the occasion and how he wanted to stay in the moment. “It felt so good to hear the word iconic being used so many times. I was saying that in 2012 when I wanted it to be,” he said as he looked over at a smiling Durhal. Certainly, iconic is appropriate here. As Durhal remarked, the slogan Detroit Vs. Everybody has become a mantra for all Detroiters to combat the naysayers and doubters in the media. After Walker’s remarks, everyone stood up to officially cut the ribbon to usher in the new location for the brand to a cheering audience. There is no doubt that the brand will be a popular addition to Columbia Street, in addition to Detroit Vs. Everybody, great things are on the horizon for Detroit. The city’s resurgence has garnered national attention, and more developments are expected in 2024 in the downtown, Midtown, and surrounding neighborhoods.



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