43 years ago our family opened its first Indianapolis store, focusing on used furniture, antiques, and everyday household “Thrift” items. Within a year we were hooked, and since then Audrey’s Place has had a home on the Near East Side.In 1991 we moved to our current location on East 10th Street and have been picking and collecting since.
Black Sheep Gifts has creative and unique gifts including great greeting cards, Fair Trade merchandise, and locally made items. For a good laugh, check out the magnets and yodeling pickle!
Selling everything from old–style candy to jewelry to greeting cards, Black Sheep Gifts in Irvington stocks a wide and eclectic variety of goods.
Store owner and manager Lisa Bennett lived in the Irvington community for 15 years before starting her variety store.
“I always said there was no good place to buy a simple greeting card,” She said.
Despite the store’s success in the neighborhood, Bennett possessed no prior experience in the retail industry when she first decided to open Black Sheep’s doors. She worked as a corrugated box saleswoman up until a couple months before her father, Frank, lost his battle with cancer.
“With the insurance money I decided to try something new and this store is the result.” Bennett said.
Registered with the city as Thanks Frank LLC, Black Sheep Gifts began operating in May of 2010 as one of the first retail businesses in the neighborhood, quickly becoming an integral part of the community and a landmark for visitors. There is even a mural on the back wall drawn by a class of 7th graders that she keeps around.
“I like to think my store has something to offer for everyone,” Bennett said, “I am always on the lookout for new items to sell and I always keep an ear open for customer suggestions.”
Bennett plans to open up a second and possibly a third store in Indiana though she could never imagine leaving her Irvington location.
“Irvington is such a terrific neighborhood and it is on the rise in Indiana, I hope the feel of the area never changes,” she said.
Black Sheep Gifts is located on Washington Street between James Dant and Jockamo’s Pizza.
A used & new bookstore specializing in Indiana books & authors, located in Historic Irvington, directly across from 10 Johnson St. coffee shop.
Located in the quaint two-room establishment it shares with Irvington Vinyl in historic Irvington off of East Ritter and South Washington Street, Bookmama’s is known for its wide variety of new and used books, particularly its growing collection of titles written about Indiana and publications by Hoosier authors.
Owner Kathleen Angelone has always loved being around books.
“When I was a child, my mother always bought my brother books but almost never bought me any. When I finally asked her about it she said it was because I didn’t need the encouragement because I read so much.” She said.
After her parents passed away, Angelone used her inheritance to buy out Bookmama’s current location from an internet bookseller, purchasing the entirety of their stock.
One of Angelone’s favorite parts of her job is when authors come for book signings and launches. She remembers one time when author Saundra Mitchell launched her new young adult book, Vespertine, at her store.
“This group of girls came all the way over from Illinois dressed in 19th century clothing as homage to one of her previous books. They kind of missed the signing but we all just hung out for a while afterwards and chatted and I could tell it made the author’s day.” She said.
In addition to its famed Indiana themed book collections, there are rumors of hauntings around the small shop. It appears in multiple books on the subject and attracts its share of ghost hunters.
“Apparently spirits in 1920s garb who lived here when it was a masonic lodge are supposed to hang out by the front door. Fortunately I’m told they only allow only nice people into the store,” Angelone said.
When asked what else she would like customers to know about her business she said, “I just love to sell books. That’s all there is to it.”
Founded in 1964 George Thomas Florist is dedicated to offering the very freshest flowers, plants as well as well as a unique line of gifts.
George Thomas Florist is a company built on customer service with a satisfaction policy that is unconditional. We take the guesswork out of sending flowers and gifts. One stop shopping. You can get delivery 24 hours a day 7 days a week. George Thomas Florist’ welcomes special requests.
Past the vibrant displays of flowers arranged in pharmaceutical cabinets from an old Rexall Drug store clustered around the front door of George Thomas florist, employees mill around large antique wood benches preparing arrangements with flowers of all types. Light reflects off the wet floor from a recent hosing. A sweet floral aroma permeates the entire building. Manager and vice president of George Thomas, Sam Smith, stands at a table in the back arranging a bouquet himself, surveying the doorway for customers.
While residing at its current location on Washington Street for only the past four years, George Thomas has been part of the Irvington community since 1964 when it was first established on 10th and Arlington with the help of Smith’s father, Thomas Smith.
“We’re a family company,” Smith said. “I work here, my wife works here, my mother comes in almost every day, and my daughter practically spent the first three years of her life here.”
While the business has shrunk from seven stores to one over the past few years, Smith looks at the shift as a consolidation.
“The market for walk-in flower orders has really gone down. Most flower sales these days are done via the internet or by phone so we figured it was more cost-effective to run out of one store. That and we enjoy having social lives.” Smith said.
By switching to a media market, George Thomas hopes to better appeal to the wide audience of flower givers.
“Statistically flower givers are highly like-able, friendly, and successful people. People buy flowers for all sorts of everyday occasions. Anniversaries, illnesses, birthdays, you name it. Just not all of them enjoy browsing through stores.” Smith said.
One of the company’s most popular deals is its “Flower Happy Hour”. On weekdays between 4:30 and 5:30, all loose flowers in their coolers become 50% off. Customers can easily obtain weekly fresh flowers for their homes.
George Thomas is located off of Washington Street, just east of Ritter.
Formerly Irvington Vintage, Irvington Vinyl is now a full service record store inside Bookmamas, with more than 20,000 quality used, new and rare vinyl records. Also CD’s, turntables, T-shirts, music posters, etc. We buy record and music collections, please call first.
“Drop those off in the next room, I’ll be over in a minute,” Owner Rick Wilkerson says to a woman entering his quaint establishment with a large canvas bag presumably laden with vintage vinyl records.
Wilkerson strides over to the counter and begins to sort through the stack of sleeves in a brisk fashion, pausing here and there to look at their names.
After a few short moments he turns to the woman apologetically and says, “I’m sorry but I think I may have to pass, I just have so many copies of these I don’t have space.”
Much of Irvington Vinyl’s stock comes from individuals like this who seek to sell their old record collections. While Wilkerson loves to purchase quality stock, the limits of the store encourage him to be fairly selective of titles based on their desirability and condition.
Since its official opening in 2014 in its shared store space with its locally renowned bookstore partner, Bookmama’s, Irvington Vinyl has seen a growing customer base.
“People really want to buy vinyl right now,” said Wilkerson, citing his primary customers as younger music enthusiasts who have decided to get into the record collecting game and older consumers who never quit or returned in the wake of the decline of the compact disc.
“In some cases it has kind of become a family activity where every member has their own collection.” he said.
Irvington Vinyl boasts a wide range of new vinyl releases, used records, turntables, and vinyl cleaning supplies. Wilkerson, the former owner of the now-defunct Missing Link Records in Broad Ripple, believes his claim to fame is his rare and used record collection which he believes is the best in the city. The store has attracted many serious collectors from in and out of town including celebrities like Bob Pollard of Guided by Voices and the hip hop band, Atmosphere in recent months.
On Record Store Day this past April, more than 100 people lined up before the store opened to get the best selection of that day’s special releases.
The store is located on Johnson Avenue by the Irving Theater and across from 10 Johnson Avenue coffee shop.
A light musky smell of leather and wood permeates the air, clothing of all colors and textures line shelves of reclaimed wood, the glass counter is surrounded by a diverse collection of sterling silver rings, shaving kits, and other accessories. Everything from shoes, to socks, to wooden ties, to the bicycle mounted on the wall can be purchased at James Dant – a store for men, in Irvington. Dant himself, or one of his two employees wait behind the counter of the store, pleasantly greeting those who enter before leaving them to look around the wide assortment of high-end clothing.
What started out as a dream for Thomas “Tommy” James Dant, fresh out of his undergraduate at Ball State with a degree in entrepreneurship, quickly became a reality when he started up his store in 2014 through a sublease on Washington Street. He immediately began receiving press and on opening day the store overflowed with visitors eager to see if James Dant lived up to its rep as a comfortable and accessible high-end shopping environment.
“There wasn’t really another store of this kind in Indiana before we showed up” Dant says, “The city had a need for a man-centric shop.”
Specifically focusing on American brands and hand crafted items, Dant wishes to bring a unique selection and style to his store, pushing to be part of what he dubs, “the makers’ movement”. He is always hunting for new brands and styles by attending shows in locations across the US.
In just six months after its opening, James Dant’s inventory quadrupled and began to pull customers from a much wider area. Dant has done everything from shooting promotional videos in his store to outfitting television personalities. He has plans to expand his business in the near future but would love to always keep a flagship shop here in Irvington.
“Irvington was really great to me, all the local support was what really kicked this store off. I love the neighborhood feel. [James Dant] is not afraid to evolve but we will always stay true to our values.” Dant says.
Just off Washington St. and Sheridan visitors to the Irvington neighborhood will likely stumble upon the vibrantly painted storefront of Maximum Grow Gardening, the area’s only hydroponics and aquaponics supplier.
Owner Justin St. John, started fiddling with hydroponics in college.
“Hydroponics to me was like owning a fish tank to other kids. I found it very interesting, and fun to do” said St. John.
Hydroponics and aquaponics, the process of delivering nutrients directly to the roots of plants via water and artificial lighting has been on the rise in Irvington and the state as a whole, attracting everywhere from 20 year-old men in college to 60 year-old women in gardening clubs.
“The process often makes plants grow much faster and healthier than their outdoor counterparts.” Said St. John.
At Maximum Grow, St. John and his staff seek to provide only the best service. They are more than happy to work with newcomers to the scene making sure they know how their equipment works and finding out any problems with faulty equipment. They offer classes for those wishing to learn more about the process. They even conduct their own hydroponic experiments in the back room. Right now they are working on using colored LED lighting as an alternative to sunlight.
“I love the job and I just feel like I live vicariously through the customers,” Said St. John. “This whole area has treated us very well what with the garden clubs and everything.”
GNB Studio, located off of Washington St. and Whittier is named after its owner, Garry Brown’s initials. A showcase to the man’s extensive experience in the jewelry crafting industry, the ample shelf space of Brown’s studio is lined with hand-crafted jewelry. Brown does it all, from classic wedding rings to the rare custom motorcycle handlebar embellishments. His workshop is in the back room.
Brown’s career as a jewelry maker began by accident during a high school study period he spent in a jewelry class. He remembers one day heating up a silver ring and slowly pulling it into a new form. Brown was hooked.
Flash forward to 1980, Brown began working at Omni Jewelers in Broad Ripple. From here he made a couple of moves until he finally landed at Rosco jewelery in Irvington. More or less running his own separate business under the Rosco name and storefront, Brown bought the store from him after his retirement in 2014 and immediately began renovating the space.
“The inside of the store right now is night and day from how it used to be in here.” Brown said.
Besides updating the building and the signs outside, Brown has his eyes set on expanding business through the web as well as changing the store’s name to Irvington Jewelers. He enjoys serving the Eastside community and would love to expand his customer base.
“I think Irvington is on the move and I am happy because I have a lot of stake in the town.” He said.
As a one-man business, Brown feels that he provides a personal touch not many other jewelers can compete with.
“We are a local store and serve the surrounding community on a regular basis. We sell jewelry and we fix jewelry. I do all the work and take personal responsibility for all jewelry in my care.” Brown said.
Modern home furnishings showroom, carrying such brands as Inhabit, Gus Modern, Younger Furniture, Blue Dot and much more.
While its residential showroom in Irvington’s Coalyard off the future site of the Pennsy trail has only been active for a few short months, Inhabit Design has been marketing its furniture and wall designs to a national audience since 2002. Their trademark furniture and decorating has frequently been featured in films and prominent publications, not to mention the homes of their many satisfied customers.
“By accident (and a printer found in the trash) founders Mike Tuttle and Jennifer Masten turned a client’s distaste for three graphic patterns into fabric prototypes.” States the company’s website.
What sets Inhabit apart from other interior decoration design companies is the source of its materials. They are primarily recycled. All pillow fabrics are made from broken down plastic soda bottles, their main wall-mounted products are made out of byproducts from sugar manufacturing that would normally be burned and their Irvington building even imports its power from wind farms.
“At Inhabit, we firmly believe that being in business should mean being a green business, there should no longer be a distinction between the two,” quotes the company’s “eco-initiative” statement.
In their Irvington “showroom”, customers can not only choose from a wide range of Inhabit products but other designers who fit into a similar style.
The design group even receives a large amount of Irvington customers considering they sell sleek, modern furnishings in a historic neighborhood.
“A lot of people like to mix old homes with modern furnishing as it gives them an interesting, eclectic look,” said Jennifer Masten, co-owner of the company.
Both Masten and Tuttle are very excited for Irvington’s future, and hope to become more involved in the community as they’re business begins to take root in the community.