It all started last year, at Art Beat. We had been doing art shows all summer, and we really weren’t quite sure if we were prepared for another year of art shows after the one we had just been through. Behind our booth, nestled in the 200 S. Michigan block was a tiny store front. “That’s it, that’s the one.” That’s what Mama T of Indiana Rug Co. A Textile Boutique said at that very moment as we set up for Art Beat. Looking back, we weren’t quite sure of what we had decided, or the adventure we were getting ourselves into. We didn’t realize at the time what this new storefront actually meant for us. What we found in this block was a neighborhood that would enlighten us to all the potential that Downtown South Bend has to offer.
Before ever having this boutique in downtown South Bend, I personally never knew about First Fridays in downtown South Bend. Like some people, I was ignorant to the fact that South Bend was a happening place. We hadn’t had a Grand Opening, and had been open barely a week, but our first “First Fridays” event we had a photo booth. We had gnome hats, gnome beards, fairy wings, and tutus as props and a cute backdrop set up, and we sold photos for a $1. I bet we sold 185 photos that night. We learned that night that people are looking for one of a kind experiences that don’t break the bank. We had Flint’s Dance Studio come out, and dance under the marquee of the theater (which we are doing again August 1st at 6:30 *hint hint*). We realized quickly that working with our neighbors, and creating an energy that people could feel and get excited about, brought more people. Those people would tell their friends and family, and time and time again, they have come back.
If you simply googled the definition of the word, “neighborhood,” you would see that it is simple. It means “a district, especially one forming a community within a town or city.” In the 200 S. Michigan block, that’s what I feel has happened in the last (almost) year. You see, our company, Indiana Rug Co. has been in business for more than 30 years. When we began to move into this space, we quickly bonded with our new neighbors, The Doyle’s at Idle Hours Bookshop. At the time we moved in, Drew was managing The State Theater, and we hit it off well with Drew. Then came time for the pop up shop season, and we found another bond with Amy and Diana from The Pigeon & the Hen Pottery. What has begun as business relationships quickly lead to friendships. This lead to the drive to help each other succeed. Our passion to show the truly wonderful things that are going on right here in your own backyard lead to us working cohesively together which brings a sense of community. Something consistent that we have going on every month is First Fridays. We’ve begun to work together with one another to coordinate our events so that our block has become a destination of excitement. We want people to know that something fun and unique can be found in this block. We are able to help you create affordable memories with your family and friends, and enhance the community by doing so. We are happy to be part of the movement and work with our neighbors to make people feel good about South Bend.
The 200 S. Michigan block has this fantastic anchor. You may have heard of it before: The State Theater. With its iconic marquee, and classic downtown South Bend look you really can’t miss it when you are near our block. Drew left the theater and began to pursue South Bend Brew Werks (which we can’t wait for it to open!!) Trish who had been volunteering at the Theater stepped in to fill his shoes, and is looking forward to working with this wonderful neighborhood to create a destination spot. The future of the theater is left up to us. It will become what we make it. What things do you want to see at our theater in downtown South Bend? Let us know in the blog comments. We (our little neighborhood) have a lot of changes in store, and fresh new ideas that continue to form in our like minded heads. The longer we’ve been here, the more we have realized that people like different. They like something that’s local. So, this little artist block will be reinvigorating and you can count on that!
This past First Friday also happened to be July 4th. Honestly, we didn’t have high hopes for the turnout. We figured most people would be out of town, or doing other things than being downtown. Boy, was I wrong! Let me paint the scene for you. Well, okay, I’ll include a picture too . It was pretty warm out, the sun was shining. The State Theater Marquee read “Happy Birthday, America!”. We had a red jeep parked under it decked out with American flags. We had 5 fantastic volunteers raising money for charity by being dunked in a dunk tank. There was a pie eating competition (4 contestants). Cutie pies from this block had an All American Lemonade stand in matching American pride aprons. Red, white, and blue pin wheels were blowing in the breeze. Right before we rang the dinner bell to start the pie eating competition, I looked up in awe. There were people everywhere! The vibe was amazing, and people were smiling, laughing, and genuinely enjoying their downtown. We can’t tell you how that affected us. It inspired us. We pour our heart and soul in to each First Fridays. We come up with outrageous (sometimes too outrageous) ideas. We work with DTSB, The State Theater, Pigeon & the Hen Pottery, Idle Hours Bookshop, and the soon to be open South Bend Brew Werks to create a tenacious and fun vibe. Why do we do all this? We do it for YOU. We realized somewhere in this last year, this city is what you make it. The events on First Fridays and special events (and frankly, day to day downtown) are what you make it. You own the energy you put out. So, if you haven’t already, join us at First Fridays in downtown South Bend, and continue to bring back the good vibes to South Bend. #wearesouthbend
In addition to enthusiastic community builder and fun event planner on the 200 block of S. Michigan, Lindsay is the boutique and social media manager for Indiana Rug Co. Don’t miss all the fun they have planned for this First Friday in Downtown South Bend!