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.
“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.”
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.”
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.
Local happenings:The Coffee Box in Plainfield to close after lease dispute
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.
“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.’ “
You feel your heart fall out’:Somerset County food businesses reel from Ida’s destruction
While some small retail stores and companies have been decimated by COVID-19, the pandemic inspired Cruz to grow her business. Creative Twist Events (which also has a venue space at 10 Pearl St.) was her side gig while she worked full-time in retail and navigated a New York City commute from the borough.
“Because of the pandemic, I was forced to be at home and that’s when my business exploded with Creative Twist,” Cruz said. “I saw how different it was for me to be full-time doing what I love, rather than working in the city.”
Then, Alicia Sondergaard Fernandez, owner of Sweet Roots Cakery, asked Cruz if she would be interested in sharing a space with her business, and the idea for a marketplace took hold.
“I couldn’t stop thinking about it,” she said. “I started writing the business plan and shaping up what this ‘marketplace’ would be and that became Newmarket.”
Go: 19 New St., Metuchen; 848-260-0782, newmarketmetuchen.com.
Jenna Intersimone has been a staff member at the USA Today Network New Jersey since 2014, after becoming a blogger-turned-reporter following the creation of her award-winning travel blog. To get unlimited access to her stories about food, drink and fun, please subscribe or activate your digital account today. Contact: [email protected] or @JIntersimone.