Flint Trading Co. builds new downtown retail space for entrepreneurial artists

FLINT, MI – Inspired by growth sparked by local artisans in the metro-Detroit area, Robert McAdow is now looking to build a hub for creativity, entrepreneurism, and retail sales in Flint.

A former resident of Ferndale, McAdow had a front row seat to the new-found livelihood of Detroit in recent years. He noticed that creative-types were coming into the city and injecting it with ideas and inspiration. After the creatives and artisans came, the investors and cash flow came, too. 

“I want people to respect it and to want to come back,” says Robert McAdow, westside Flint resident and founder of the Flint Trading Co. “I want people to see the place and know that they can drop in and pick up something and know that they got something great. Something unique.”

Located upstairs from the Flint City T-Shirts, the Flint Trading Co. features a small, bright space with modern displays and hand-crafted wares. 

“I moved here from Ferndale two years ago and I had lived in Ferndale for 15 years. I saw Ferndale blossom. I saw the revitalization of Detroit happen before my eyes. I always said if I saw a good opportunity, I would do it.” 

And, so the Flint Trading Co. was born. The grand opening is Friday, May 11, 2018. 

McAdow has been creating jewelry for nearly three decades. He found it to be a creative outlet from daily life and something that had direct results from the work he put in. Along the path of his metalsmithing journey, he became aware of a socio-artistic pattern.

When McAdow first came to visit Flint, he found people were “very warm,” and that there were “a lot of young people around here that were looking for an outlet, creatively.” 

“I visited the city and I liked the energy I felt. It’s rebuilding and revitalizing. There’s a good energy here. There’s lots of opportunity for growth, especially for the art world,” he says.

McAdow and his wife Megan relocated to the city of Flint two years ago. 

There are currently five artists showcased at the Flint Trading Co., including McAdow. At this point, there is a very informal curation process but as time passes, it may become more regimented. If McAdow sees a piece that he is interested in, he simply inquires more about the artist and potentially reaches out. Currently, pieces at the Trading Co. range from earrings, to coasters, cards, textile pieces and hollowware.

One of the goals for the Flint Trading Co. is to make owning varying forms of artwork more accessible to the public. McAdow understands that many people don’t have large budgets to purchase a piece to hang on their wall or a fine, handmade piece of jewelry. However, he believes that his location will help facilitate the ownership of art.

“Some (pieces of art) are larger, more expensive. Harder to reach fiscally,” McAdow says. “I try to work with artists to make smaller, less expensive pieces.” 

In addition to the sale of curated pieces, he hopes there will be an increase in custom, commissioned work for himself and the artists featured at the Flint Trading Co.. He is aiming to get both artists and art-seekers through the doors. The more people he can get into the small space, the more likely he is to expand in the future and hopes that other artists and businesses will prosper because of it.

“I really believe that what makes a city successful, especially when it’s in the process of revitalization, is the young people and its artists,” McAdow says.

For more information, visit flinttradingco.com 

Read more articles by Tim Galloway.