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Newmarket, an indoor/outdoor marketplace, is open in Metuchen NJ

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Ever since it launched five years ago, Metuchen-based Creative Twist Events has strived to be more than an event-planning company by offering customized, hands-on activities.

Now, its second location at 19 New St., the former home of Lollipop Land and 2 Chicks With Chocolate, has an experiential element, too. 

The 1,300-square-foot space is the home of Newmarket, an indoor and outdoor marketplace that houses four independent businesses owned by borough residents where visitors can shop, eat and celebrate.

Newmarket shop owners from left Ian Fawcett of FK Living, Joanne Cruz of Creative Twist Events,  Jenna Muldoon of love, june and Alicia Sondergaard Fernandez of Sweet Roots Cakery.

“Before COVID-19 hit when I worked in retail, I saw that everyone was very focused on experience-driven places,” said Joanne Cruz, owner of Creative Twist Events and Newmarket. “I feel like COVID-19 took that away from us for the time being, but its not going to go away. Now that things are starting to open up, people need that experience. When people come in here, they feel something.”

Joanne Cruz, owner of Creative Twist Events.

Creative Twist Events sells party supplies, gifts and has aballoon bar for made-to-order balloons bundles and garlands. Newmarket also houses FK Living, a gift, toy and home goods store; love, june, also a gift and home goods store; Sweet Roots Cakery, a bakery specializing in custom cakes and desserts.

The marketplace plans to periodically host pop-up shops, where other small businesses can have space in the building. There is also a space for holding events onsite.

“I think that a model like this is perfect because we are helping each other and learning from each other and all of the shop owners have different backgrounds,” Cruz said. “Everybody brings something different to the table. It’s amazing what you can do when you’re doing it together.”

Outside of Newmarket.

Part of the reason Cruz opened Newmarket was to help small business owners in their initial stages of growth, who might not yet have the funds or resources to open their own store yet. 

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It is doing just that for love, june, a four-year-old business owned by Jenna Muldoon. Since she also has a full-time job and a family, she’s grown her side business slowly over the years through street fairs and pop-up markets. But now, love, june has its first storefront, and Muldoon said its a “great stepping stone” for her business. She sees it as an ideal fit for the borough, too. 

Jenna Muldoon, owner at love, june, with her products at a past Metuchen event.

“Everyone that comes in here says, ‘This is exactly what this town needed,’ ” she said. “This is such a great concept — people love that it’s four stores in one. They say, ‘This is my new place to go for gifts.’ It’s great to see everyone’s eyes light up when they realize ‘Metuchen finally has another place for me to go and shop.’ “