I am of, or perhaps from, an age where learning to shine up one’s shoes was a routine ritual of boyhood. There were two competitors, I knew: Kiwi, which came in a flat can, and Griffin’s, which came in a tall bottle. (If I’d looked, I’d find bottles of Kiwi and cans of Griffin’s, but I never looked that hard.) There was, however, a third, which was well on its way to oblivion, colloquial speech having established, or at least claimed, that it was largely indistinguishable from fecal matter, at least to some of us.
The trademark fell into desuetude, as trademarks will; but this one was revived, for a line of wholly different products. From earlier this month, in beautiful downtown Detroit:
In all honesty, we had no idea how many people would turn out for the grand opening of the Shinola Detroit Flagship store (441 W. Canfield St.) last weekend. So you can imagine how pleasantly surprised we were to be greeted by a long line of beaming Detroiters.
We had our full assortment of American-made products on hand, including men’s and women’s watches, leather goods, bicycles, and journals. But I think we surprised some people with the array of collaboratively-produced and curated items we also have in our store, such as leather-covered bike locks (a collaboration with Map of Days), jeans by Detroit Denim, Shinola bike bells, ceramic vessels by Local Portion, and a curated newsstand.
The stuff is pricey watches start around $400, bicycles at two grand. Still, I have to believe there exists a market for this kind of thing, and if the conversation must open with WWII-era snark, well, at least Shinola v2.0 has its shiny-shod foot in the door. Meanwhile, Griffin and Kiwi soldier on.
(With thanks to Nancy Friedman, who offers her own analysis of the name.)