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The City Exchange: A Unique Shopping Experience


Photo credit: Mikaela Conley

Written by: Mikaela ConleySeptember 30, 2015

The City Exchange will have its official grand opening  Oct. 3 on Wayne Street in downtown Fort Wayne.

The owners have “worked on a lot of different projects. They worked on JK O’Donnells…they helped with Fortezza, they helped with Creative Women of the World… so this seems like another avenue for that because their main goal is to support downtown and give downtown a facelift. They’ve even joked about saying, we’ll take the ugliest building that is very run down and turn it into something beautiful,” said Jack Ellsworth, general manager.

The hope is to capture the urban, industrial feel similar to that of an Urban Outfitters, he said.

Among the shops to open in early October are Fiddlewinks, Poptique, Valontine, Belyst, Juice Jar, Around the Corner and David  T. Collection.

Fiddlewinks, owned by Michelle Surdell, offers unique, “whimsical” ceramics.

“It goes with everything; it doesn’t go with anything,” Ellsworth said. “She does Christmas, Halloween, she does Easter. Everything she has is just fun, and it is a good first thing you see in the window.”

Poptique, originally founded by Lindsey Hively and now managed by her father, Gary Hively, will be opening its third location, offering savory popcorn in every flavor from chocolate and caramel to buffalo chicken.

Another space is on reserve by a tech repair company, which would offer services including fixing phones.

“One of the things that we do want to focus on at The City Exchange is not to be a retail mall in the sense of clothing only. We also don’t want to be seen as a flea market. We want it to eclectic, but also have services for downtown,” Ellsworth said.

Juice Jar, owned by Jillian Howard will offer local, organic, cold pressed juices and also offers packs of juices for individuals interested in doing a cleanse.

Ellsworth’s own shop “is a nod to the past and the present…so clothing will be vintage…and then I will also sell modern clothing. And then all of the knick knack and the home stuff is all vintage. And then the necklaces are modern and there are some vintage ones as well. So it’s kind of just a flip flop back and forth,” he said.

Around the Corner, ran by The City Exchange owner Melissa Glaze, sells local, regional goods and brands such as The Lucky Ones, The Hedgehog Press and Connie’s Creations.

The final two shops, Belyst and David T. Collection, both offer unique, high end clothing.

“She sells bohemian clothing, she sells young contemporary, but her age range goes anywhere from 18- 60 years old, it is just on how modest you want to dress. But it is very much modern bohemian. She sells Free People and other high end independent brands. She definitely has an eye of a buyer and knows her customer,” Ellsworth said of Jill Uber, owner of Belyst.

David T. Collection, owned by David Rabideau, offers high-end mens suits and interview clothes at a more affordable cost.

The owners are thinking about a pop- up shop or  food carts, like you could find in the mall, to be in the area where customers would first walk in.

The location is a four-story building, so Ellsworth mentioned the potential of eventually building the business and expanding the mall to the second floor, or have one of the shops “flourish” and move to the second floor.

“The ultimate goal here is to for no business to stay here. We want this to be refreshed…My boss is a very gracious person in finding someone and helping them groom their business,” Ellsworth said. “We want to be a flagship store for people; we want to be a second location; we want to be a startup business location,” he said.

The City Exchange will be open Monday through Saturday 12-7 p.m.