Something wild: Wildroots Modern Market puts down roots at Van Aken District in Shaker Heights

With the Cleveland Flea taking a step back from its monthly markets this year, Clevelanders may be wondering where to get their “shop local” fix—and thanks to a new arrival at the Van Aken District, the answer just might be Wildroots Modern Market.


More than 600 makers and small businesses comprise the “creative family” that sets up shop at Wildroots events—from pasta sauce makers The Blonde Italian to potter Billy Ritter to jewelry maker Auld Henne Designs. Though this will be Wildroots’ debut season at the Van Aken District, the concept was first introduced back in 2015 when founder Jacque Thompson took over the reins and rebranded from the market’s former incarnation.


Jacque Thompson and her family“When the Hudson Flea posted on Facebook [that it would be ceasing operation], something inside of me said that I really needed to pick it up,” says Thompson, a former veterinary tech. “I tried to ignore it, but the calling was so overwhelming.”


Since then, Thompson hasn’t looked back—growing the market from 90 to more than 600 vendors and eventually adding more locations, such as Legacy Village in Beachwood and, now, Van Aken District in Shaker Heights. Van Aken District will host the only monthly market of the three—launching Feb. 9, and running through December with both indoor and outdoor incarnations. (See 2020 dates here.)


“Hudson is our home base, but we’re hoping Van Aken will become a permanent home as well,” Thompson says. “We try to find the right communities that fit for us and invest in them.”


The scene at Wildroots Modern MarketWildroots vendors at the Van Aken District will also have the opportunity to set up mini-storefronts within the Market Hall that extend past the day of the market for weekend or month-long durations. According to Thompson, the first vendors to offer mini-stores will be Fat T's Cookies, Daisy Cake Pops, Fetch & Co., and Dude About Town. 

Additionally, Thompson plans to open a Wildroots-themed store showcasing collaborative pieces made in partnership by the market’s makers. “We believe in collaboration over competition—there’s room for everyone at our markets,” Thompson says. “Part of that includes letting our makers team up to create unique pieces bringing their two worlds together.”


Thompson and her Wildroots team work hard to unite local makers outside of the market setting, planning meetups, photo shoots, free classes, and happy hours to encourage creative conversations and collaborations. “That’s why we call ourselves the creative family, because it’s about much more than the market you see the day of [the event],” Thompson says. “Our whole mission is to be supportive of the makers within our community.”

Read more articles by Jen Jones Donatelli.

As an enthusiastic CLE-vangelist, Jen Jones Donatelli enjoys diving headfirst into her work with FreshWater Cleveland. Upon moving back to Cleveland after 16 years in Los Angeles, Jen served as FreshWater's managing editor for two years (2017-2019) and continues her work with the publication as a contributing editor and host of the FreshFaces podcast. Along with her work at FreshWater, she is the editor-of-chief of Edible Cleveland and a contributing editor for Destination Cleveland. When not typing the day away at her laptop, she teaches writing and creativity classes for Creative Groove, Literary Cleveland, Cleveland State University, and more. Jen is a proud graduate of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.
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