Pop Deluxe, Meet Madison Modern Market

Pop Deluxe, Meet Madison Modern Market

We all need a breather sometimes—whether it’s a nice long massage or a well-deserved glass of vino on that sidewalk patio. For me, I love to window shop (weird, I know) and browse our fine local boutiques. Pop Deluxe has always been a favorite of mine (see and ) to make me giggle and marvel at stuff like centipede-shaped ice cube trays, dog paper-doll books and silver antler candleholders. They don’t have stuff you need—they have stuff you want.

In April, Pop Deluxe underwent an ownership and name change and is now called Madison Modern Market. Luckily, the store’s look and feel has barely changed—they still have the same curated collection of too-cool gifty items. I talked to Emma Stepien, visual manager and sales lead of the store, for what’s new, what’s changed and what are her personal favorites in the store. (Also be sure to check out the slideshow at the end of the post for pictures of the store!)

You used to work at Pop Deluxe, which was owned by Amber and John Westerman. When did they step away from the business, and what are they up to now?
I worked under the Westermans at Pop Deluxe from 2012 until they closed their brick-and-mortar store in March of this year. (Editor’s note: unfortunately, this happened). I was a sales associate but also helped with merchandising and visual display throughout the store and in the windows. Although they’re currently taking a break, the Westermans plan to continue selling merchandise through their e-commerce website, popdeluxe.net. (Editor’s note: popdeluxe.net is live, but customers cannot currently buy anything on the site.)

We [too have] already received several requests from customers to start our own e-commerce site and plan on doing so in the future. Although we love being located on State Street and physically visiting with our guests, we’d love to share Madison Modern Market with even more people through an online store [too].

Why did the new owner decide to take the store over?
We felt that the absence of the physical Pop Deluxe store left a void in the State Street shopping experience. While it was difficult for a number of reasons to see the store leave, the point that weighed heaviest on me was that customers would no longer be able to visit their go-to gift store. Our owner approached the Westermans before Pop Deluxe closed, expressing interest in starting something new that maintained the eclectic, fun vibe that previously existed. With nearly seven years of previous local retail management experience, our owner sought a new challenge.

I studied interior design at UW–Madison [and also] gained valuable experience interning at Anthropologie with the visual display team. I focused on merchandising and working to build hand-crafted displays, both large and small scale, throughout the store and in the windows. Pop Deluxe was my first experience focusing on sales in a retail setting, which I immediately loved because of the personal interaction with our customers.

Madison Modern Market opened its doors April 27, and we’ve been very successful thus far. Many Madisonians and tourists who made Pop Deluxe a regular stop have been thrilled to see a resurgence of the space, and we’ve also had many new customers stop in who had never visited in the past.

Tell me about the new name.
We wanted to focus on the fact that we are a locally owned, one-of-a-kind, forward-thinking retail boutique located [here]. We aim to be the city’s hub for unique, eclectic products that are fun to own and can make life more enjoyable, a little easier and a lot more interesting. After playing around with a few names, we felt that Madison Modern Market clearly explained our concept and provides us with room to grow and develop.

How have you changed or maintained the product mix?
We decided to keep several of the product lines that customers expected to see at Pop Deluxe throughout the years. We’ve also added new product and will continue to do so to keep things fresh. We try to focus on what will be exciting for the season based around weather, holidays and events. While we want to continue to sell quirky, fun gifts, we’ve also added and will continue to add some higher-end design and lifestyle products that would be great additions to our customers’ homes as well as gifts for special occasions.

What are some of your best-selling and most unique products.
The products in our travel section have been extremely popular! We have some really amazing scratch-off travel posters, journals, wash bags and accessories that are great whether you’re taking a weekend trip or spending several weeks [overseas].

We carry a great line of lunch accessories for kids that feature animal faces on plates, bowls, water bottles, utensils, bibs and lunch bags. They’re adorable, very reasonably priced and are great whether paired as a set or as a mix of animals. 

We have a great variety of books that make great gifts whether you’re looking for something for an aspiring chef, crafters or just looking to bring a smile to someone’s face.

Our store is also the first to offer merchandise from Brooklyn Brew Shop, a company that manufactures at-home beer making kits and supplies. As far as I know, we’re the only store on State Street that sells any sort of at-home brewing supplies.

What are your personal favorites in the store?
I’m currently obsessed with our Tattly temporary tattoos. They come in tons of great designs, make great party favors for all ages and typically last two to four days.

I love our kitchen and bar section; we have so many beautiful and quirky pieces that are also very functional and would be great as a host or hostess gift for summer parties.

My absolute favorite [items are] probably our terrariums. The recycled, hand-blown glass vessels make a beautiful home for your plants and are easy to take care of. Whether you purchase one that we’ve planted in-store or an empty vessel, they’re a great way to bring the outdoors into your home. With such a diverse product mix, it’s hard to choose favorites.

There are so many items I’d love to give as gifts as well as own myself. Above all, I think our personable yet fun atmosphere draws people into the store and keeps [people] coming back. I absolutely love talking with our customers and helping them find the perfect gift.

Madison Modern Market, 310 State St., 257-1555.