Detroit, Michigan: Lawndale Market - The People's Polaroids

Over 10,000 polaroids of customers cover the walls and hang from the ceilings.
Address:
1136 Lawndale St, Detroit, MI
Directions:
In southwest Detroit, northwest of I-75. Off the corner of Lawndale and Chamberlain Sts.
Hours:
Open from mid-afternoon until after dark. (Call to verify)
Phone:
313-841-2531
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Lawndale Market - The People's Polaroids

We did want to stop in, but it's really not the best part of town.

[Bette, 04/08/2013]
Lawndale Market and Polaroid photo ceiling. Lawndale Market - The People's Polaroids

Lawndale Market in southwest Detroit has been owned for the past 30 years by Amad Samaan, who hails from Baghdad. In the last decade, he's plastered his small bazaar with about 10,000 Polaroid photos of customers. The snaps line the wood-paneled walls and hang like little oblong chandeliers from the ceiling.

This people promotion began back in 1995, when a local boy saw pictures of Samaan's grandkids taped up behind the counter. The kid came back with more than a few of his own photos, so Samaan proudly displayed them. The owner probably had no idea what he was getting into. "I do it for the people," he says.

Walls of Polaroid photos.

Samaan has a good deal going with local kids: If they receive all A's in school, he'll post their report card next to their photo and give them $5 to spend in the store.

But adults like his hobby too. "One couple came in hugging and kissing and wanted their picture taken," Samaan says. "A week later, the woman returned and threw $500 cash on the counter. She had broken up with her honey and wanted the photo back -- so she could burn it. I told her to keep the money. I knew I'd see her in a week." Sure enough, the woman returned after the couple reunited.

The Polaroids share store space with headshots of a holy few, such as Jesus, the Virgin Mary, Elvis (an entire back room is dedicated to the King) and Marilyn Monroe. And Samaan inscribes "God loves you" on every snapshot.

[Rebecca Mazzei, 05/29/2007]

July 2011: Even though Polaroid stopped making instant film in 2008, Lawndale Market owner Amad Samaan still displays his photos in his store. He keeps undefined hours, arriving when he feels like it in the afternoon and closing when he feels like it at night.

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