When you are a small local artisan, it’s often difficult to justify a brick-and-mortar location just for yourself. Enter stores like Celebrate Local or State & Third that house a number of small local vendors all in one place. Come late January, Urban Emporium in Bexley will be joining the ranks.
Making unique local goods more accessible, Urban Emporium will stock quality, hand-crafted items with a special nod to eco-friendly products. Customers can expect to find all manner of goods, from jewelry, accessories and clothing, to art, toys and home decor. Started by four artists themselves, the owners have built a personal network of artisans to feature.
Partners Kelly Blanton, Becky Brisker, Aimée Re and Jennifer Roy recently answered The Metropreneur’s questions about the shop and the growing trend of just-for-local-artistan stores.
1. Why did you decide to name the store Urban Emporium?
Urban Emporium is owned and will be staffed by four partners: Kelly Blanton, Becky Brisker, Aimée Re and Jennifer Roy. We all got together and carefully crafted the name of our store to have a vintage appeal for the modern time. It harkens back to the days when people mainly bought goods locally from their community’s general store.
2. How can stores like Urban Emporium be a good outlet for businesses that don’t have or aren’t ready for a brick-and-mortar location?
Stores like Urban Emporium are an excellent outlet for local handmade goods because it allows artists to focus on creating rather than selling (which is what most artists prefer). And for the artist who makes one-of-a-kind objects, it is particularly important because of the time that would be involved to photograph and list each individual item for sale online.
3. What do you think of the growing trend of such stores? Why are they important?
The trend of small retailers selling locally-produced items is wonderful! It helps make art more accessible and part of our everyday lives. The shift away from big box retailers puts more money back into the communities in which we live.
Another advantage to this type of small, local shop is that we know each artist and vendor personally. We are building real relationships with them and have a strong connection to their art and the quality goods that we sell. That connection is very important when we are talking with our customers about the items in our shop and the story behind them.
4. How are you curating the list of vendors? Are you always looking for more local artisans to add to the store?
All four partners are artists themselves who have met many other artists over the years whose work speaks to us. We have introduced these artists’ works to each other and we go with a majority vote to decide on their inclusion. We are only selling quality items that we feel very passionate about. We all have different yet complimentary tastes, so we’re able to curate an eclectic mix of artists and items for the shop. Once we open, we will continually evaluate where we can add artists to fill the needs of our customers.
5. Anything else you would like to add?
Besides selling, we are planning to host classes for the community. We are looking forward to providing opportunities for artists to share their skills and teach their craft. Some examples of classes and workshops would be furniture refinishing and painting, jewelry-making and art in all mediums. This is another way we’d like to bring art into everyone’s life.
To hear more about the shop check out this article on Columbus Underground.