You could call the vendors who sell their wares at the new goodMRKT store at Jefferson Pointe do-gooders.
And that’s not an insult or a snarky comment.
The whole premise of the store, started by Vera Bradley, is to sell products that in some way give back to the world, or do good. For example, a brand may focus on sustainability, recycling a product into something brand-new. Or it may give a portion of its profits to an organization that tries to empower women working in third-world countries.
The store is located in the former Williams-Sonoma store at Jefferson Pointe. But it’s not just a store. In the middle of the 5,000-square-foot space is the goodMRKT cafe, which serves locally produced Utopian coffee and snacks from the Fort Wayne Country Club. Customers may sit at the coffee bar and chat, or sit at one of the tables and read or study on a laptop. When the weather gets warmer, seating will be available outside.
The vendors’ goods are arranged on the shelves on the perimeter of the floor. More than 30 brands are represented, and about 35% of them are local. The rest are from all over the country.
Harry Cunningham, Vera Bradley’s vice president of Retail Brand Experience, was the brainchild behind much of the planning and merchandizing “The mall has been super excited about what we’ve been doing,” he said. “It’s been a blast.”
Along with the vendors, the cafe, too, tries to be a good steward of the environment. For example, bags are made from recycled paper. And if you see a lot of people walking around with milk cartons, look a little closer. Those aren’t milk cartons, they’re water cartons — made out of cardboard. They’re a much more environmentally friendly alternative to plastic water bottles.
Speaking of water, Luke Wright of Warsaw, who owns Mudlove, gives a portion of his sales of pottery to Water for Good, an organization that delivers water to places in the world that desperately need it. A portion of the proceeds from each item sold is enough to provide one week of clean water. He’s been in business for 12 years and has donated more than 1 million weeks of water.
New Hope Girls sells bags and purses sewn by women of the Dominican Republic to raise money to help rescue young girls from enslavement or sex trafficking.
Caitlyn Scaggs, executive manager, said she flew in for the opening night party from Virginia. “I think we all need more good in our lives,” she said. “Vera Bradley has been incredibly supportive of our organization.”
Fort Wayne residents Ashley and Kenny Green, founders of KaAn’s Designs. Their simple T-shirts pay homage to families of all sorts. “The Original” might be for Mom or Dad, or even grandparents. “The Remix” is for a first child. “The Encore” is for a second child. And the “Mic drop” could be for a third child — but those aren’t rules set in stone. They come in all sizes, from newborns to adults, and can be configured any way a family wants to wear them.
But the best part of the Greens’ story is how they were “discovered.” They were featured on Oprah Winfrey’s Favorite Things List for 2020. They even got to meet Oprah via Zoom.
Ashley said they had a big bump in sales after that, likely influenced by social media.
Even Vera Bradley has products for sale in goodMRKT, but they are not the usual stock. The company has made a line of products that are made from recycled plastic bottles. They don’t exactly feel like cloth, but they are smooth, water resistant and come in colors.
Each vendor at the store has a sign by their goods that tells a little about the company and product and has a QR code people can click on with their phones to learn even more about the company.
Hours are 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.
Prices on most items appear reasonable, especially for products that are handmade.
Jefferson Pointe is at 4130 W. Jefferson Blvd. The store is across from Von Maur and the fountain.