"What's that?" She asked, pointing to a warmly lit storefront across the streetcar tracks in the middle of the 600 block of Main Street.
"I don't know... I don't think I've ever actually noticed that before," I replied. Being someone whose job it is to find new places in Cincinnati, it struck me as odd that a new store directly adjacent to the Aronoff Center had slipped by my radar.
"Let's go check it out."
As my fiancee and I wandered in, we discovered that this storefront, the Downtown Cincy 2018 Winter Pop-Shop, was not only brand new, but also inside 639 Main Street for a limited time. It opened November 16 but would only be available to peruse until January 31 of next year.
Now, I may not be the exact demographic the Pop-Shop looks to attract, but it was impossible to deny its appeal—especially when the person I was shopping with instantly found several things she wanted. Tables bearing various air plants and all-natural skincare solutions, as well as racks of vintage clothing and plates of eclectic jewelry, filled the modest-sized storefront.
Continuing further into the store, an entire room that's double the size of the Main Street-facing storefront opened up into a colorful array of framed art, additional vintage clothing, and a large staircase at the base of which sits a table of essential oils and bath bombs. The exposed brick walls and sepia hue of the wooden floors surrounding all of it beckoned us in with its warmth.
It was, without a doubt, a pleasant surprise to find such a shop selling local wares while out walking on a cold night.
HOW IT CAME TO BE
The Pop-Shop is the result of a collaboration between Downtown Cincinnati Inc. and the City of Cincinnati. Working with property owners in the city, the program places artists, makers, and business owners together to activate spaces in a different way. Earlier this year, DCI put out a call to entrepreneurs and many applied to be featured in this year's shop. Of the applicants, four business-savvy women were chosen to head up the 639 Main Street storefront: Joi M. Sears, The Green Store; Carling Andrews, Supernova Soaks; Marcie Hon, Down to Mars Vintage; and Rose Emory, For Your Love of Art.
While each business in the Pop-Shop offers something different, DCI chose these four because they aligned the best out of the many who applied for the program. Here's a quick rundown of what each offers:
- The Green Store is a lifestyle brand that offers sustainable products and clothing that is made from recycled materials.
- Supernova Soaks is all about essential oils, all-natural bath bombs, skincare solutions, and other similar handmade products.
- Down to Mars Vintage has women's apparel for the high-end, vintage-seeking customer with an affinity for wardrobe items that are as timeless as they are lightly worn.
- For Your Love of Art curates a collection of artwork by local and national artists, and offers both framed and unframed works for purchase.
A QUARTER OF THE SHOP
When we went into the Pop-Shop that night, we met Marcie Hon, proprietor of Down to Mars Vintage. A DAAP graduate, Marcie has been running her business part-time for two years. Her opportunity with the Pop-Shop, though, afforded her the chance to do Down to Mars Vintage full time. She's usually the one at the store during the week.
Marcie regularly refreshes her stock of vintage clothing using a combination of surfing Craigslist, connections she made while working as an intern for a costume shop, resources from her time at EBTH, and some good old-fashioned thrifting. She keeps seasonal and special items in the front of the store and stocks the back of the Pop-Shop with the rest.
While it isn't a permanent space for Down to Mars Vintage, the shop is the catalyst to help her take the business to the next level. After the program concludes, she plans to work out of her home.
We walked out of the store with a bag of Marcie's vintage clothes that night. I returned days later to pick up several Christmas presents my fiancee eyeballed while she was there. It felt great to not only discover something new in our neighborhood, but to support local businesses who actively work to make Main Street even more vibrant.
- - -
The Pop-Shop is located at 639 Main Street (45202) next to the Aronoff Center. It is open from now until January 31, 2019.