Dig Baton Rouge

A New Market: 21-year-old buys downtown antique shop Circa 1857

At 21, most people are graduating college and only beginning to think about what they want to do for their careers. Garrett Kemp, the new owner of The Market at Circa 1857, already has his dream job. Kemp recently became the new owner of the antique store on Government Street. He got involved with The Market when he was still in high school while hanging art for a show and was offered a job soon after. After working there for two and a half years, he felt like he was ready to take the next step.

“When the previous owner told us they were selling, I had the idea that maybe I would buy it, but that idea kind of faded out,” he said. “But I realized a couple weeks later that this was an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up.”
Kemp is currently studying political science part-time at Baton Rouge Community College. Although he plans on transferring to LSU later, he admits that school “isn’t really [his] favorite thing.” He prefers traveling and recently returned from a two-week trip to Morocco, which he says inspired some of his plans for The Market.
“I travel as much as I can, and I kind of want to bring those cultures back to Baton Rouge,” he said. “I want to bring the idea of worldly travel to Baton Rouge so that our customers can see influences from all around the world when they walk into our store.”
One of the reasons for Kemp’s decision was the economic boom that the neighborhoods surrounding The Market have been experiencing. With the new businesses popping up downtown and around Mid-City, Kemp felt like it was necessary to start making his mark sooner rather than later.
Through working at The Market, Kemp grew to know vendors around the city. He said these relationships will make his journey as owner a lot easier, and plans to reach out to even more Baton Rouge businesses in the near future.
He also wants to reach out more to potential customers in the Garden District to develop more regular customers.
“We want to have a presence…in all of Baton Rouge, but I really want to lock down the Garden District because that’s our biggest clientele group,” he said.
Since becoming owner at such a young age, Kemp said he has been surrounded with support from his family and his peers. He hopes that his age will help usher the store into the 21st century.
One of the ways Kemp hopes to pull new customers in is by hosting events like wine tastings, art shows or new exhibitions at the shop. He also plans on working on the store’s social media presence, including Instagram and Snapchat.
“With a place like this where everything is so photogenic, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be on a social media [platform] where it’s all about photos and videos,” he said. “We’ve been so far behind the times, so we’re trying to step up our game.”
With these new business tactics in place, Kemp hopes that in a year, The Market will have a steady fan base and solidify its place in the Baton Rouge community.
“I’d like to hear less of ‘I’ve never been in here’ and more of ‘I always love when I come in here,’” Kemp said.

Photo by Greta Jines.

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