SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio — Shinola, the Detroit-based luxury watchmaker named after the old shoe polish, recently opened its first Cleveland-area store.
The 1,538 square-foot space, located at 3431 Tuttle Rd. in the Van Aken District, sells custom watches, leather goods, jewelry, and even a few bikes.
“We’re thrilled to be a part of the Van Aken District’s ever-expanding retail lineup, and excited to bring Shinola to those who may not have had the chance to visit us in Columbus,” says Shinola CEO Tom Lewand in an email to cleveland.com. “The Ratners and the RMS team have done an amazing job creating new space that lends itself perfectly to our beautifully crafted watches, leather, jewelry, and other products; and we’re confident our new Shaker Heights guests will receive nothing less than a top-notch retail experience.”
The brand was launched in 2011 by Tom Kartsotis, one of the original founders of Fossil. The story of how Shinola acquired its famous name goes back to when he was developing his vision for the company and an associate pushed back with the old 1940s expression, “You don’t know s— from Shinola.” (You might also know the saying from the Steve Martin film “The Jerk.”)
The original Shinola stopped making shoe polish in 1960. But, knowing a nostalgia play when he sees one, Kartsotis bought the name with the idea of using it to sell fancy, Swiss-quality watches at a lower price point.
Today, the brand offers dozens of men’s and women’s styles at its 30 brick and mortar stores and high-end retailers like Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. All of Shinola’s watches, most of which retail between $475 and $2,800, are assembled by hand in Detroit using parts from Switzerland and Asia.
One of the unique features of the new Shaker Heights store is the watch bar, where customers can design their own watch by mixing and matching from a selection of straps and dials.
The store also offers a variety of leather goods — from a $50 key fob to a $1,495 backpack and everything in between. Customers can personalize those items with free, in-store monogramming. Select watches and jewelry can be engraved, though those items are sent back to Detroit for that.
Journals, audio (think turntables, speakers and headphones), and clocks round out the store’s other main product categories.
Shinola Van Aken celebrates its official grand opening Saturday, June 15, from noon to 4 p.m. The store is open Monday-Thursday from 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Friday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.