Guest blog: Shopping small is big in Columbus
(Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of blogs from Andrea Archibald, owner of Simply Vague, on the local movement and small independent retailers in the area. Archibald will profile a new startup or small business in each of her guest blogs.)
by Andrea Archibald
2013 was a big year for shopping small in the capital city. With the addition of several new "local" stores, like Glean in the Short North, Mary B.'s in German Village and Pure Roots in Westerville, and the introduction of new pop-up shops and street markets like the Moonlight Market, even smaller businesses have more opportunities than ever before to get their Ohio-made products into retail locations and in front of the masses.
Helping to create jobs in the community and stimulating the local economy are two of the many benefits associated with shopping from small independent retailers, but the uniqueness and quality of their products are what's causing such a demand for "local" stores in the marketplace. The demand for local is so great that all three of the major malls (Polaris Fashion Place, Easton Town Center and The Mall at Tuttle Crossing) each have their own all Ohio-made store. Together the three of them give over 400 Ohio small businesses the opportunity to sell their products, whether they be artisan foods, craft beer, wine or handcrafted items, alongside retail giants like Macy's, Sears, and Abercrombie.
In September, Columbus City Council and its partners presented KickStart Columbus, a business plan contest for entrepreneurs looking to grow their business, where two winners received free rent for retail spaces in addition to other tools to help them with the launch of their brand new storefronts. Team Chipmunk, a children's clothing store, and Sweet Simpliciteas, which offers gourmet dessert teas, were the winners — each receiving retail space on 3rd street in Downtown Columbus.
With so many new outlets for artists, inventors, crafters and farmers, 2013 saw a wide range of new startups. No less than five new brewing companies came onto the scene in 2013, and even more are scheduled to open in 2014. The Boutique Truck, a new startup that offers affordable fashion in the form of a mobile pop-up shop, is just one of the many clever new concepts that Columbus has welcomed with open arms.
As a small business owner and local enthusiast myself, I am passionate about small businesses. I talked to several small business owners to find out how their companies have been affected by the local movement for this blog series. Local brewing companies, farm-to-table restaurants and local musicians are all positively impacted by the local movement. Even local charity organizations have experienced an increase in local love. Those benefiting from the movement are optimistic about Columbus' love of local reaching new heights in 2014 and beyond. In the meantime, consumers are enjoying a wide range of stores and restaurants that are embracing community and serving up the best of Columbus.
Andrea Archibald is the owner of Simply Vague, a pair of locally focused stores at Polaris Fashion Place and The Mall at Tuttle Crossing. You can reach her at email@example.com.