Have you ever daydreamed about owning your own shop or business of some kind? And if your dreams include our beautiful capital city of Indianapolis, where do you picture it? If you’re a downtowner, chances are good you’d be all about Mass Ave.


Mass Ave is packed with shops, restaurants and bars and seems incessantly bustling with activity and is nestled between a bunch of historic neighborhoods. (Jealous of you Chatham Arch dwellers!) Enough of the historic buildings have been retained (who doesn’t love Stout’s Shoes, Silver in the City, Yats or the Indy Reads Books space?), and most of the open spaces have been in-filled (think: Beilouny or 333 Mass Ave). There is something inviting and comforting about being in a densely populated area that offers living, shopping and eating–especially when it comes with a side of history. Mass Ave always feels like a tightly knit community where you inevitably run into people you know.

Think of the variety of sizes, shapes and floor plans along Mass Ave. On the larger scale, wouldn’t it be fun to see the former Marott’s Department Store functioning again as a multilevel retail space– packed with citizens of and visitors to our city? How about a Midland Mass Ave branch? Anyone? Or what else might you foresee?

On the small-but-mighty scale, there are properties like Tini on the Ave, The Flying Cupcake and the one at 429 Massachusetts Avenue–home to Bu Da Lounge before its relocation. The first floor at 429 is about 1200 square feet–big enough for business, small enough to feel cozy. This building was home to a Men’s Furnishings store in its early life and through the 1920’s and 1930’s, at least. In the late 1960’s, the American Workers (Union, presumably) used the space and later still, the space emanated the heavenly scent of freshly baked bread, while home to Brother Juniper’s Bakery and later, a scent-free Urbane Optical, prior to Bu Da Lounge.

Mass Ave, beauty reflected in the window as much as there may be in the window…

When you see a vacant space like this, do you daydream? What was there? What could be? I do. Imagine being the chap who visited the Men’s Haberdashery there nearly 100 years ago, perhaps selecting a new hat for a show that night, spotted in the same window that reflected the ornate theatre where his evening’s festivities would be held.

Care to ponder what might be in the space next year? Or in 5 or more? Wouldn’t a high end stationary shop be dreamy?

This little shop space is one of the few that retains the original decorative tin ceiling, which makes it ideal for housing beautiful things, no? (Can one really be inspired while standing under a canopy of acoustical tiles?)

The pattern of the original ceiling is a rare commodity in Indy anymore

If your daydream included living above your shop, this one could be perfect. Out the back of the property (with access both on the first and second floors), is a best-kept secret– an inner courtyard shared by Lockerbie Court Apartments and a few other surrounding properties. A little oasis in the heart of the city, just steps from the many diversions of the Avenue and beyond.

courtyard oasis/ Mass Ave secret out back…

What a great building to have a view of…

If you are itching to get downtown–whatever type of space you are in the market for–Larry Gregerson, at Century 21 Scheetz on the Avenue is an expert in downtown and historic neighborhood real estate.

Full disclosure: Larry is one of the sponsors of this website because he believes so deeply in supporting all things downtown and historic. He is also the only real estate agent who believed enough in the work of this website to be a sponsor. That means that without his support, this website might not exist. When you have need of a real estate agent, you may want to evaluate where agents under consideration reinvest in your community.

Ahh, the things you could do to this upstairs space!

If your dream wouldn’t be Mass Ave, where would it be? And what would you want it to look like or details you’d want it to have?

4 responses to “Friday Fave: A Mass Ave Shop for The New Year”

  1. Virginia Swift Singer says:

    Anyone remeber Sablosky’s Department Store on Mass Ave?

  2. Mark Meier says:

    Love this article. I wish I had the money to open a business and live upstairs! Looks fantastic!

  3. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    I remember Sablosky’s. The original store was on Mass Ave — where Mass Ave, College Avenue, and St. Clair Street come together. Brothers Michael and Isaac Sablosky came to Indianapolis about 1899. Over the years, they also had satellite locations in other parts of town. I’m not sure when the original store closed, but I know it was still there in the 1980s, so it was in existence for the better part of a century.
    In the 1970s, I shared a house in Butler-Tarkington with Michael Sablosky’s great-granddaughter Harriet Ann Sablosky Landman. “Hank” and I met and became roommates while working on the campaign staff of Governor Matthew E. Welsh. She was the first woman to become a news reporter at an Indianapolis radio station, WIBC.
    Hank went on to be a news anchor in Atlanta and an investigative reporter in Boston. She is now also an author of mystery novels (five published so far). You can check out Hank Phillippi Ryan’s page on the NBC WHDH 7 News site here: or Hank Phillippi Ryan’s author’s website here:

  4. Virginia Swift Singer says:

    Thanks for the feedback. I remember the store so vey well. I do not remember her from Atlanta TV. I movedto Atlanta in 1970

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