Building a brand: First Detroit Barber Company, then Lucky Detroit, now Sweeties – Grosse Pointe News (subscription)

16980 Kercheval Ave • McCourt Building • Grosse Pointe, MI 48230 • 313.882.6900 • Office Hours: Monday-Friday 9am-5pm
Monday, October 11, 2021
16980 Kercheval Pl. • Grosse Pointe, Michigan 48236 • 313.882.6900 • Monday-Friday 9am-4pm

photos by Renee Landuyt
Jami and Chad Buchanan, owners of Detroit Barbers and Lucky Detroit are now putting their unique touch on their latest endeavor, the former Sweeties in Grosse Pointe Park.
GROSSE POINTE PARK — Jami and Chad Buchanan grew up collecting antique items separately through their childhoods in Detroit and San Francisco, respectively. When they were married and lived in the Detroit area, their love for antiques and Chad Buchanan’s entrepreneurial spirit found their outlet.
“Chad I call a serial entrepreneur,” Jami Buchanan said. “He grew up in northern California and we would go back and forth to San Francisco to visit his family. Back in 2013 or 2014, all these old-school, new-school barber shops were popping up everywhere. He would wait in an hour-long line to get a haircut.”
“I grew up going to a barber shop there as well,” Chad Buchanan added.
The lack of barber shops like those they saw on the West Coast was obvious to the Buchanans. Their love for barber shops ran deeper than just the aesthetic; Jami Buchanan grew up under a mom who owned and ran salons.
“We kept telling her (about) all these barber shops and she was kind of our inspiration,” Jami Buchanan said. “She kept saying, ‘You guys have to do this.’ So Chad … was like, ‘We’re doing it.’”
An old building that had a “1930s, 40s feel,” according to the couple, sparked their interest and the birth of Detroit Barber Company, colloquially known as Detroit Barbers, was upon metro Detroit.
That first location was an old office space in Ferndale on Woodward Avenue. They knew it was their spot as Chad Buchanan peeled back old carpet and ceilings to find the building’s original character: beautiful hardwood floors and old tin ceilings.
“It had a lot of really cool character,” he said.
Thus, in 2016, the Detroit Barbers franchise began.
“We wanted to create a brand for barbers to go to, that had a home that we helped them grow,” Chad Buchanan said. “ … We make the business work, they do the hair part.”
When a landlord of a vacant Corktown building approached them saying he liked their business model and wanted them to check out his space, they couldn’t resist the historic downtown space.
“It was honestly too big for us,” Chad Buchanan said. “ … We ended up having a space … on one side that we weren’t utilizing.”
That space ended up being the perfect spot for a coffee shop Jami Buchanan had always wanted. They brought in many of their antique pieces and created an upstairs coffee shop to its downstairs barber shop. Lucky Detroit was born.
“I found this file, where I had done all this research on the equipment and the coffee beans, from like 2008,” Jami Buchanan said. “I showed it to him one day (recently) and I was like, ‘Isn’t it funny that we’re here?’”
Lucky Detroit pays homage to the past of the Corktown building in which it’s housed.
The name, Lucky Detroit, pays homage to the Corktown building, which previously housed Lucky Clover Bar in the mid- to late-1900s.
“That shop looks like a coffee shop you would’ve walked in in like the ‘30s, ‘40s,” Chad Buchanan said of the Corktown location.
Truly a family affair, the Grosse Pointe Park location recently followed the couple’s entrepreneurial adventures with Chad Buchanan’s brother living in town.
“I had never been to the Park before,” Chad Buchanan said. “We came down to one of the little restaurants down here and we grabbed a beer and we walked around. I was like, ‘This is amazing. How does this exist and I don’t know about this?’”
“We immediately fell in love with the downtown, the community, the neighborhood,” Jami Buchanan added.
When the Buchanans found a good space in the form of a current gym, they were all in.
“We were just kind of waiting for something to open up that looked right,” Chad Buchanan said.
The space, at 14940 Kercheval, used to be a gym with a connected space intended for a juice bar. Yet again, the joint deal turned out to be perfect for the Buchanans to continue their coffee and barber shop duo.
“Going forward, this is our business model,” Jami Buchanan said. “It works.”
“Weirdly enough, coffee and barber (shops) go really well together,” Chad Buchanan said.
They renovated the space to fit their Detroit Barbers style, filling the building with their stored antique pieces and decor. In the intended juice bar, they added another Lucky Detroit location.
Throughout their businesses, they are very proud of their staff.
“(We have a) super diverse, very interesting group,” Chad Buchanan said. “Everyone has a different background. We like to promote having a very eclectic group that works very, very well together.”
The staff adds to the services and products they provide. In Lucky Detroit, all coffee is handmade and the syrups are made in house by staff. To add to the eclectic, antique energy of the shops, the Park’s Lucky Detroit location serves its nitro cold brew coffee out of a retro refrigerator.
For the Buchanans, the Park feels like home.
“When we looked at all the Pointes, I think I love the Park the best,” Chad Buchanan said, “just because of our brand and our style. The Park kind of calls to us.
“All the business owners are very cool and very interesting,” he added.
“And supportive of one another,” Jami Buchanan said. “(It’s been) a really warm welcoming. It truly feels a part of Detroit, too.”
The Buchanans’ business endeavors in the Park don’t stop here. They recently picked up the former G.P. Sweeties location, which soon will take on a new name, likely Parlor Detroit.
The renovated shop will keep some candies on hand, but will shift focus more to ice cream, even installing a walk-up window for carryout. Some ice cream flavors will be made in house, featuring products on the vegan side, like oat milk ice cream.
“Stuff you can’t get that people love,” Chad Buchanan said.
Some of Lucky Detroit’s coffee likely will find its way into the ice cream shop, too, with menu items anticipated to include both a coffee drink and ice cream.
Though the shop is operating while under renovation, the Buchanans plan to have Parlor Detroit fully completed by early spring.
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September 22, 2021
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