Shopping – Under One Roof


Coriann Collections at The Shoppes at City Center

One daunting and costly part of a startup business venture is a storefront’s overhead, but there is a way to share that burden with other small businesses. The “shops within a shop” model consists of several different retail businesses under one common roof. By sharing a space, smaller businesses share the overhead expenses, advertising costs, and the overall responsibility of a storefront.

Grocery stores and big box stores are experimenting with a version of this model by allowing kiosks of brand-specific merchandise to be sold under their roof. For example, that cell phone kiosk or trendy coffee counter located inside a department or grocery store are both using the shop within a shop philosophy. Time magazine reported in 2013, “if the store within a store is done well, the host retailer gets to enjoy a boost in foot traffic (and sales) without the usual amount of legwork.”

The Shoppes at City Center has caught onto the new trend and bills itself as a local boutique marketplace shopping destination with several businesses under one roof. Cori Glover, owner and operator of Coriann Collections says that as her home-based jewelry business grew, she faced a dilemma. Glover started out by making wire wrap jewelry and selling it at craft and trade shows, online, and at trunk shows. Even though Glover did not have a retail background, she learned through trial and error about the art of pricing and design and how to offer the current trends, all while working the trade show circuit. When she was ready to expand her business into its own storefront, long-time friend Carol Flowers offered her a wonderful solution at The Shoppes at City Center. collections

According to Glover, “I have loved jewelry all my life; the bling in the jewelry cases drew me [in].” Each business within The
Shoppes tries to promote the other businesses and help out. When one business is having a sale or event, it benefits all the businesses in The Shoppes. This ability to reach a wider variety of customers is one of the main attractions of a store within a store business model.

When joining The Shoppes she started with jewelry, then added handbags, and now carries home décor as well. Coriann Collections limits their stock to two or three pieces of each design. “I want every woman to feel they have something special and unique to them – that is important to me.” The shop within a shop has been a great success for Coriann Collections. With fast turnover and steady business, Glover says, “I have been very blessed; The Shoppes [at City Center] have provided me with the opportunity to have a physical location and keep the career I love.”

The Shoppes at Renaissance square – The Incubator Project

Hand in hand with the “shops within a shop” theme is another entrepreneur-boosting experiment happening in Elizabeth City called The Incubator Project. The Incubator Project is a subdivision of the River City Community Development Corporation (RCCDC) and focuses on assisting small, minority-owned businesses. Creator Lenora Jarvis-Mackey, President & CEO of RCCDC, stated, “The project started out as a strategy to help revitalize the heart of the black business district,” with talks of the project beginning in the early 90s. At that time, there was a concern that as waterfront development continued to grow, the historic black business district area would be used as parking lots and business owners would lose their spaces. Since the RCCDC was a volunteer group without expertise in the governing laws of community development, Jarvis-Mackey will confess, “It has been a learning process getting The Incubator Project going.”incubator

What makes The Incubator Project different from the shops within a shop business model?  According to Jarvis-Mackey, “The goal is to do the handholding that needs to be done. We work with the business to help them become successful.” The Incubator Project offers the fledgling businesses a “very reduced” rate on rent that is well below market value along with additional services. Through a partnership with Elizabeth City State University and College of the Albemarle, entrepreneurs are offered workshops on tax filing, business law, and other business topics. 

In early 2015, there are seven businesses preparing to move into The Shoppes at Renaissance Square, a newly built facility at the intersection of Ehringhaus and McMorrine streets. These businesses include a bakery, a seamstress, and other retailers. There will also be a common reception area with seating and access to Wi-Fi where visitors and customers can get a cup of coffee and relax with a newspaper or magazine.   

After learning the ropes and proving themselves within The Incubator’s central location, Jarvis-Mackey says that she would like to see successful stores get on their feet enough to move out to the regular marketplace, “hopefully to fill one of the empty stores on Main Street.”

Article By: Tracy Anderson

Elizabeth City’s Downtown Business and Professional Association (DBPA) is a group of downtown business owners whose main goal is to ensure the success, growth, and prosperity of downtown Elizabeth City’s business and professional community.  The following downtown businesses make Elizabeth City a thriving destination for shoppers and business owners. Don’t forget to support your local community and shop at the following DBPA members:

MMT Printers, Inc.A locally owned and operated commercial print shop with exceptional quality, fast turnaround, and affordable prices | | 605 E. Fearing St.| 252-338-2328

In StitchesHigh-quality sewing products and embroidery shop | | 507 E. Main St. | 252-338-3094

Shay Leslie BoutiqueAn upscale boutique featuring day, desk, and dinner party dressing | | 613 E. Main St.| 252-331-2550 

Page After Page Bookstore A full-service bookstore with music, toys, gifts, stationery, cards, and more | | 111 S. Water St. | 252-335-7243

Honey & Hive A cutting-edge fashion boutique for all of your stylish needs | | 510 E. Main St. | 252-331-7027 

Port DiscoverA center for hands-on science to enhance youth science and understanding through interactive and guided discovery | | 611 E. Main St. | 252-338-6117

Arts of the AlbemarleA regional, non-profit arts council, home to over 250 artists, craftsmen, and photographers and home to the AOA School of the Arts | | 516 E. Main St. | 252-338-6455

Dockside Elizabeth City Spa, beauty, and personal care using only top-shelf products | | 115 S. Water St. | 252-331-2329 

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