Fred’s Key Shop: A Detroit Cass Corridor Institution

Fred Knoche, founder and owner of Fred's Key Shop, located in the Cass Corridor since 1962.
Fred Knoche, founder and owner of Fred’s Key Shop, located in the Cass Corridor since 1962.

As a native Detroiter who grew up in the general West Grand Boulevard area near where the 1967 Detroit Rebellion began, I have deep and wonderful memories of those days in my beloved City. I remember all of the little stores and shops on 12th Street (now Rosa Parks Boulevard) and 14th Street and Linwood. Things have definitely changed over the years, and as we welcome the “new” businesses to Cass Corridor area (now called “Midtown”), we must always honor and remember that there were already a lot of businesses in Detroit. These “old school” businesses  usually started right after World War II when the population of Detroit was close to two million residents. The business owners worked hard, thrived, and some of the businesses died, were destroyed in the 1960s and beyond, or just plain closed down.

But many businesses stayed in Detroit and kept going even through the toughest times. One of those businesses is Fred’s Key Shop, a family owned locksmith shop that has been in the Cass Corridor/Midtown area since 1962. I recently interviewed Fred Knoche, who opened Fred’s Key Shop along with his brothers Daniel Knoche and Timothy Knoche on August 13, 1962. Fred and I had a great time reminiscing about the “old days”. Before opening his own locksmith business at Third Street and W. Forest, Fred worked at Ed’s Key Shop, which was located on 14th and Lamothe, a couple of blocks north of West Grand Boulevard. It was Ed’s Key Shop that my dad sent me to have keys made when I was old enough to go to the store by myself. Fred and I remembered how vibrant and crowded with cars the area around Ed’s Key Shop used to be. Fred also remembers how empty Second Avenue was for many years; he also remembers when Midtown was the Cass Corridor because he’s had his locksmith shop there all of these decades from Detroit’s heyday, through its near demise, and now the City and Midtown coming back again.

Fred said that when he came to work at Ed’s Key Shop at 8:30 am, people were already lined up to do business. On the day I was at Fred’s Key Shop on the corner of 2nd Avenue and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, there was a line of people at the counter waiting to do business and the store was still bustling.

When you go to Fred’s Key Shop to get keys made or any other services, please remember that Fred does not accept checks—cash or credit cards only. Fred said he made a deal with the bank: they won’t cut keys and he won’t accept checks!

Key Shop Map

Fred’s Key Shop is located at 3470 Second Avenue, and they are open from 9:00 am – 5:30 pm Monday-Friday and 9:00 – 1:00 pm on Saturdays. When you walk into Fred’s, be prepared to go back in time and to be taken care of as if you were family, because if you love Detroit like Fred, Dan, and Tim do, then to the Knoche Brothers, you are family.