I had the pleasure last week of spending an evening in the company of Jake Rothschild, the namesake and man behind the success of Jake’s Ice Cream, and now also the proud pappa of the Irwin Street Market. The market is located in the Old Fourth Ward on the corner of Irwin and Sampson Street, across from the well photographed and directional landmark water tower.
When you walk into the market you’re greeted by a large, industrial but cozy room. The exterior walls host a variety of vendors: to your right is Flower Bar, beyond that is a woman who sells handmade soaps and beauty products, beyond that is another room with art, books and my favorite clever greeting cards on a spinning rack (you need to go yourself to see). In the main room continuing counter clockwise is a cupcake maker, a fabulous cookie bar and beyond that a coffee bar. That brings you around to the left side of the room and its anchor businesses: Jake’s.
There’s another room to your left as you come in, hosting framed photography on the walls, comfy couches and more intimate lighting with two adjoining alcoves for privacy and conversation. Back in the main room, you’ll find couches, armchairs and the family table flanking retro ovens being used as displays for other locally made wares.
Admittedly, I didn’t know much about Jake or his business adventures, and while I had patronized the Irwin Street Market (lunch at Jake’s, flowers from Flower Bar for the housewarming, cupcakes from Button Cakes Bakery) I wasn’t entirely clear on what was happening in the space, and hadn’t given a lot of thought to the eclectic collection.
Friday night, I got the 411. Simply stated, it isn’t just the goal of the market, but the intent behind everything Jake does: to nurture and help local business grow. On the website for ISM, its declared as our neighborhood s urban artist market, and it is.
It’s an incubator for small business who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford a storefront, who wouldn’t normally have the coaching and support of someone who has tried, stumbled, succeeded and found himself in the process.
As someone with a unquenchable passion for small business and a soft spot for “the little guy”, I’ll be undoubtedly be spending more time at the market. Bonus: free wifi and loads of comfy spots to sit without loud-not-my-taste music rattling your thoughts out of your head. Perfect for plotting about and noodling your own business dreams, which you can see to fruition right there at the Irwin Street Market.
Oh yeah, and remember that post several weeks back where I said that if I wasn’t so lazy I’d start a small local produce stand? Great minds think alike: keep an eye out for just that at Jake’s in the next couple of months.