ABINGDON, Va. — Local business owners Jennifer Puckett and Megan Collins are not afraid of chasing their dreams — even during a pandemic.
While many small businesses throughout the country are shuttering due to COVID-19, the entrepreneurs have taken a leap of faith and opened Market on Main, a vendor store for people looking for unique finds, many of which are made locally.
“I think this will be a good fit for the downtown area,” said Puckett, 35, who added she has heard nothing but positive remarks about the new business.
“We’ve had people who have eaten at nearby restaurants pop in and say they are excited for us. It feels good to be supported by the town.
“We want to bring more retail to this side of town.”
Marketplaces, which are rapidly dominating the world of business, benefit both the vendor and the marketplace owner. Sellers gain visibility by showcasing their products under one roof, and marketplace owners earn commissions from their sales.
Collins, who became a partner in the Abingdon business, was already familiar with the popularity of vendor shops. She is owner of The Trading Shoppees, located in Bristol and Tazewell, Virginia.
“I’m ecstatic about being part of the Abingdon location. We’ve had a huge response from the public, and we already have a waiting list of vendors. We expect this location to be a very busy one, and we’re excited for what the future holds for Market on Main,” said Collins.
“It’s a win-win situation,” said Puckett. The beauty of a vendor shop, she said, is vendors can simply leave their products to be included with the store inventory. “A vendor store allows people to operate a business without the expenses of paying for a storefront, employees and insurance.
“We take care of all of that.”
Participating vendors share store space, enjoying the flexibility of deciding the size of their displays and what products they want to showcase.
Market on Main, a 1,500-square-foot shop, will feature nearly 40 vendors, some from as far away as Jonesborough, Tennessee, and Marion and Tazewell, Virginia.
Customers can find a variety of new and handcrafted items, including soaps, candles, wreaths, cutlery, jewelry, photography, leather goods, clothing, purses and shoes.
Before opening the store, Puckett reached out to local crafters and boutique owners, inviting them to exhibit their wares at the Abingdon store.
“Some of the vendors operate online businesses, and others sell at farmers markets, so this allows them to be set up for customers all week.
“This store not only will help existing businesses remain sustainable, but I hope it will encourage new businesses.”
Jordan Glover of Bristol, Tennessee, is displaying her artwork at the vendor shop.
A part-time bartender at Drake’s, Glover took up painting while sheltering during the beginning of the pandemic.
“It was such an uncertain time. Painting helped to free my mind, and I just fell in love with it,” said Glover, who had dabbled with art in high school. Using acrylics, watercolors and oils, she paints local landscapes, farm animals and some local landmarks.
Maggie Thayer of Mendota, Virginia, said the vendor shop will give her a much-needed venue for displaying her Southern Grace Boutique items, such as jewelry, graphic T-shirts and scarves. Before the shop opened, the kindergarten teacher relied on Facebook and word of mouth for selling her merchandise.
Anna Bryant of Bristol, Tennessee, operates Thyme & Gratitude Co., a business offering modern polymer clay jewelry and goods.
Hannah Royal of Southern Flair, an online boutique based in Cedar Bluff, Virginia, will display stylish clothing, jewelry and hair accessories.
Laura Quillen of the Dressy Owl Boutique said her specialty is offering customers unique women’s clothing in sizes small through 3XL and a full line of skincare and cosmetics.
Vendor shops are nothing new for Robin Cline of Robin’s Nest Boutique. She is displaying her boutique items at Market on Main, and by the end of the year, she will have her merchandise in five locations in the region and one in North Carolina.
Robin’s Nest Boutique offers affordable, trendy, boutique clothing, ranging in sizes from small to 3XL.
“I think during this past year, people have appreciated shopping locally more than ever. People value the importance of small businesses,” said Cline.
“I have a very diverse fashion line, offering lines that are true to size. They are good-quality clothes at prices that don’t break the bank.
“I still have customers who like to touch, feel and try on clothing. That’s the benefit you get being in a place like Market on Main.”
Market on Main is open 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday through Thursday; 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday; and closed on Monday.
Follow Market on Main on Facebook.
Carolyn R. Wilson is a freelance writer in Glade Spring, Virginia. Contact her at email@example.com.
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