Cause-based Fashion on South U
With a U-M basketball tie-in
by Sally Mitani
Most small businesses struggle to pay the rent. How can Merit--a "cause-based" fashion brand--give 20 percent off the top of every purchase to a scholarship fund and still pay the rent? "We covered rent the first week we moved in," says David Merritt coolly.
Merritt was the 2008-2009 captain of U-M's basketball team. "I wasn't a star. I averaged about two points per game," he says, and he graduated with a degree in sports management.
Now he works closely with the Jalen Rose Academy to identify at-risk youth in Detroit, get them through high school, and provide college scholarships.
Most of Merit's shirts, hats, wooden-bead bracelets, and notebooks carry the Merit logo patch, which Merritt hopes will become recognized as a "positive messaging" brand. He's also experimenting with a few "cut-and-sew" (trade lingo for original design) men's shirts that don't sport the Merit badge: a long-sleeve, collared Henley for $75, a color-blocked hoodie for $85.
Merritt also works for Straight Gate International, his father's nondenominational ministry in Detroit. "Between the store and working with my father," he says, "I don't have time for basketball anymore."
Merit, 1113 South University, 585-0137. Mon., Wed., Fri. & Sat. noon-8 p.m. Closed Tues., Thurs., & Sun. meritgoodness.com
[Originally published in December, 2013.]