The 54th & Monon Shops
Writer / Leia Barker
Photographer / Stephanie Duncan
54th Street near the Monon Trail was once a heavy industrial area featuring manufacturing and welding. The Monon railway was busy with loaded boxcars hauling materials to be unloaded to these businesses. The area is now alive with people enjoying themselves at restaurants, shopping at boutique stores, watching the activity with a glass of wine at an outside table and using the Monon Trail.
Dave Reese grew up on 54th Street near the Monon Trail, playing in the cornfields that he later saw developed into manufacturing and warehouse businesses. Eventually, he purchased these buildings to provide offices and warehouses to store cabinets for his growing business, Reese Kitchens, which he and his wife Suzy owned for over 20 years. The first building he acquired was at 1057 E. 54th St. It was the Woods Wire factory. Then it was home for Reese Kitchens, and now it’s the newly remodeled Ferguson Kitchen, Bath and Lighting Gallery showroom.
The drive along the east side of Ferguson’s Gallery reveals new construction for the addition of 10 new spaces for shops. A new shop named Random Acts of Flowers is a nonprofit that takes flowers left from weddings and funerals and repurposes them for patients in nursing homes and hospitals that can’t afford flowers. Near the back of the building is what Mass Ave Toys will occupy in January 2017.
Since selling their business to Ferguson in 2012, the Reeses are delighted in their second careers as developers. Remodeling their buildings into a vibrant area for commerce is gratifying for both of them.
“This area means a lot to me. I grew up here when it was mostly cornfields,” shares Dave, whose grandfather and father started Reese Central Wholesale.
Suzy and Dave’s property development venture began with their daughter’s art gallery and will soon be expanding to 29 shops in total. They personally handle all the lease agreements and construction.
“This is such a romantic area to me. It is rich with the history of the origins of some significant Indiana companies,” shares Suzy. Their building next to the Reese Kitchens, which now houses The Gallery Pastry Shop, is where Lou Jenn started Jenn-Air Appliances, and several other well-known Indianapolis companies also started in that building.
In 1999, Suzy and Dave needed additional space for their business, so they bought the building at 1134 E. 54th, which was the original Central Indiana Hardware building. This building was where steel doors were welded and fabricated. It now hosts Posh Petals, a floral shop known for their exuberant color; So-Be-Fit, an exercise studio; and Nicole-Taylors, a pasta shop. Suzy and Dave then purchased the building next door to Reese Kitchens at 1101 E. 54th to have additional space. It had been the home of Throp Awnings.
“Each business is different and has its own personality and charm,” shares Suzy. “We have really enjoyed creating a community of unique shops that offer a large array of products and services including fine art, personal exercise training, framing and art restoration, floral design, wedding gowns, Italian pizza, European pastries, cold pressed juices, unique games and toys, cabinets, appliances, lighting, antiques, upholstery workshops, mural artists, fresh-made pasta, beautiful wall coverings and fabrics, custom dress designing and gourmet donuts.”
“Dave and Suzy are the marriage of the Monon Shops,” shares Christopher Blice of Blice Edwards. “It’s amazing what has happened in our area. We have witnessed the evolution from warehouse space to commerce. It is exciting to be a part of it.”
The 54th & Monon Shops area has become a popular destination for families and individuals who walk, eat and shop along the Monon Trail, making SoBro a destination.
“All of the shops are unique and beautiful and reflect the creativity and passion of their owners,” adds Suzy.