Friday, July 19, 2024

A Maker-Merchant space comes to The Historic Triangle as an answer to the high cost of retail space.

Local business owners/business coaches Ti’Juana and Lawrence Gholson are bringing a new business concept to the York County district of The Historic Triangle.

Make ‘ur Merch and MAXIMUM Create! A Maker’s Space will come to town mid-June. This business concept has two overall goals: to provide a space for merchants and a space for makers.

The term “co-merchandising,” also known as “co-merching,” may not be familiar but according to Ti’Juana it will soon be a well-known term in our community.

This idea was born from a problem. “In one week, I received phone calls from several small business clients stating they were having to close their storefronts due to not being able to afford overhead costs and lack of staffing,” said Ti’Juana. “This burdened me to the point that I stayed up all night thinking of how I could help.”

After surveying several small business owners, talking with community leaders, and doing market research, Ti’Juana thought of the idea of co-merchandising. It was only natural as the Gholsons currently own two co-working spaces, located in Williamsburg and James City County. The co-working spaces cater to small business owners needing office space without incurring high overhead and other costs. The new co-merchandising space will cater to merchants and vendors alike.

“After thinking on it, the concept just made sense,” said Lawrence. This space will be a place where merchants can rent a shelf, test the market and sell their products with other merchants before incurring the cost of leasing a space. The model intends to provide a creative space to INCUBATE, INNOVATE, CONNECT, COLLABORATE and CREATE.

The Maker/Merchant community includes creatives, artisans, and makers. Equipment such as 3-D printers, vinyl cutters, laser cutters, professional label printers, sewing machines, embroidery machines, direct to garment printers, heat presses, and more will be available to makers for a small monthly membership fee. Special technology classes will be offered such as augmented reality, virtual reality and drone piloting. Offering youth technology camps is one of the many future goals of the owners. Since the owners are business coaches, a business support system, business education, and networking opportunities are also weaved into the model.

“Created with the small business owner in mind, we aim to help those who need a fresh start and support as we shift as a nation through the pandemic,” says Lawrence. “We also aim to serve the community by offering this new concept to the area.”

The space will be an addition to only two other active maker spaces from Norfolk to Richmond, however the difference is the merchant component. “Having a unique space like this in the Historic Triangle will be an asset and offer more opportunities in the Hampton Roads area,” says Lawrence. “Tourists will also enjoy the space by shopping as well as joining in on a class while in town.”

A discount is offered to those merchants/makers who join the community during the months of May and June.

A soft grand opening is scheduled for the day after Juneteenth with a full opening date of July 4th. This new business is proposed to offer five new jobs and will add to the economic value of the community.

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