Watch company Shinola is investing big in Detroit

(CBS NEWS) DETROIT -- Michigan's governor will take the stand in court on Monday to try to convince a judge the state was justified in declaring the city of Detroit bankrupt.

Detroit remains in very bad shape, but some see that as a unique marketing opportunity.

The city has lost two-thirds of its population in the last 60 years, but there are some new business that are based here -- and boasting about it.

"People love the story of somebody being knocked down and standing up again," said Steve Bock, CEO of Shinola.

Steve Bock, CEO of Shinola, says many consumers want to buy Detroit-made products to help the struggling city get back on its feet.
Steve Bock, CEO of Shinola, says many consumers want to buy Detroit-made products to help the struggling city get back on its feet.
CBS News

In the last year, Shinola, which specializes in handcrafted watches, has taken downtrodden upscale, spending more than $10 million to let people know exactly where it's located.

It's also investing in local workers. Many come from the auto business. They are hired without skills and trained.

"A gig like this is very hard to come by, you know. It's like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me," said worker Titus Hayes.

It sounds about as home-grown as you can get, but the whole business of Shinola is much more global.

The components of the watches come from Switzerland. The crystals, cases and watch hands come from China. The "Made in Detroit" slogan was focus-tested by a group in Dallas.

"The idea of manufacturing watches in Detroit was seen with great enthusiasm and that panel talked to the fact that they would be prepared to pay a premium for that," said Bock.

The watches are sold for an average of around $600 at places like Barney's in New York and in Shinola's own stylish stores.

"It's about Detroit from the standpoint that we think Detroit is a great city to have for our base," said Bock.

"Two years ago there were six of us. Today there are 120. By this time next year, we expect to be at 250 people."

Bock says the company is proud of its products and its business model. And it has aggressive plans for the future. Beyond the watches, it sells bicycles, leather goods, shoe polish - even Shinola cola.

All the products bear that catchy name - and a belief that people still want a piece of this town.

Bock believes Detroit can sell.

"It will be a great city. It is innovative, it's young, it's creative. It'll regenerate itself," said Bock. And for us to be a small part of that city going forward? Fantastic!"

  • Jeff Glor

    Jeff Glor was named anchor of the Sunday edition of the "CBS Evening News" in January 2012 and Special Correspondent for "CBS This Morning" in November 2011.

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