Detroit's Fisher Building retail stores once thrived. Covid made them all sick.

February 18, 2021, 7:09 AM

The Fisher Building, a high-rise gem on rising over the New Center neighborhood, once hosted not only hundreds of office workers, but regular theater-going crowds, who helped sustain street-level businesses ranging from boutiques to cafes. 

Fisher Building lobby (Photo: Dig Downtown Detroit)

But in a sad and now-familiar story, those shops are struggling with the loss of foot traffic due to work-from-home and the closing of the Fisher Theater. 

The Free Press reports:

The Detroit building that was once bustling with over 1,300 people a day now only sees up to 300 people daily, most of whom are business owners, according to data provided by The Platform, a development company that owns the Fisher Building. That's a 77% drop in foot traffic.

Many businesses in the Fisher Building had to shift to selling products online to survive. Other businesses struggled to learn how to adapt to the technology. Some businesses, like the Fisher Bakery, closed their doors permanently. And businesses like Promenade Artesian Foods moved into the building.

Some high-profile tenants, like the Peacock Room, have instituted weekly Facebook Live events, wherein owner Rachel Lutz shows off items and takes online orders for pickup later. 

The plight of the Fisher Building is shared by other downtown retailers, who depend on office workers, sports fans and others to sustain face-to-face selling in an increasingly online environment. 

Prior to the pandemic, 25,735 people worked in the area and were potential customers, according to The Platform. And the theater itself would attract thousands more from around the world during performances.

Read more:  Detroit Free Press

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