1002 King of Pops

Suz and Ken were presenting first thing in the morning, so as promised, I brought sweet potato biscuits.  I picked up a regular biscuit for myself which, while delicious, could hardly compare to the sticky treats lurking at the bottom of the grease-stained paper bag.  The morning’s presentations proved interesting – good stuff about usability and staff training – even if the day’s keynote employed the sorts of stupid gimmicks I’ve come to expect from library conferences.  Suz and I played hooky for a while and discovered a scary mouth chair and a variety of other bizarre and wonderful vintage delights, and by the time she dropped me off back at the conference hotel, I was wiped.

It was too early (and too gorgeous) to call it a day, though, so I meandered back to Dawn’s with my heavy backpack, intent on a short nap and then further evening wanderings. In hopes of grabbing a quick snack (or a beer), I stopped into the Irwin Street Market, a sweet family of businesses tucked away in the Old Fourth Ward.

Irwin Street Market

Spaces like the Irwin Street Market are what I like so much about small towns – or cities or neighborhoods that have seen better times.  They also highlight things we find so frustrating about Ann Arbor.  The Irwin Street Market is an allied family of vendors- a cafe, a coffeeshop, an ice cream counter, a designated community kitchen, and others – created with the explicit intent of nurturing local businesses.  In doing so, they’ve provided a sweet and vibrant third place.  By contrast, Ann Arbor has communities of businesses, but lacks any shared spaces of this sort (as far as I know).  There’s the Workantile Exchange, but that serves a specific population rather than providing space and place for anyone who cares to wander in.  There’s nothing like either in our neighborhood, and very little chance of anything like either opening up.

But I digress.  I wanted to tell you about King of Pops, after all.  I don’t know the precise details, only a fuzzy version of the origin story, but what I was told was that the titular King of Pops used to be a fancy businessman of some sort until he decided to ditch that life and become popsicle royalty.  In less than a year, he has built a veritable popsicle empire using a cart, a street corner, and a killer mural:

King of Pops
Photo by Gush Party, USA

Oh yeah, and amazing popsicles.

King of Pops
Photo by Gush Party, USA

I love the idea that a guy can go from businessman to local food sensation in under a year. I also love the idea of fancy popsicles – including the amazing chocolate sea salt one I picked up at the Irwin Street Market, one of a handful of King of Pops outposts scattered around the city.  I also also love the idea of spaces dedicated to fostering small business while also building community.

Atlanta, I think I love you.

Miles walked: 7


If you go:

Irwin Street Market
660 Irwin St
Atlanta, GA 30312
(404) 586-0920

King of Pops
various locations, primarily:
1079 North Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30306
(404) 507-6774