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Announcing the Winners of the Future of Shopping Small Grant Program

June 12, 2020 | Announcing the Winners of the Future of Shopping Small Grant Program

Etoile.jpgEtoile Boutique owner, Falon Quillen, places a Shop Small sign in the window of the storefront. Photo credit: Zac Alfson, Director of The Milk District 

This past winter, Main Street America teamed up with American Express to launch the Future of Shopping Small Grant Program to provide 10 small businesses with $10,000 each to help them innovate in the evolving retail landscape. While today’s retail environment looks different than it did a few months ago, we are thrilled to announce the winners of this grant program and support the needs of these small businesses that are vital parts of their communities. Please note that some of these winning ideas will need to be modified according to social distance guidelines and will proceed once it’s deemed safe to do so. Learn more about the winning businesses below:

Creative Grounds DC: Washington, DC

Creative_Grounds_DC2.jpgWomen business owners celebrate Women's History Month at Creative Grounds DC with a traditional Eritrean coffee ceremony. Photo credit: Asmara Sium

Creative Grounds DC is a coffee shop and art space located in the North Capitol Main Street district of Washington, D.C. With the tag line of “Art, Community, and Coffee,” Creative Grounds DC offers a community space for teaching, producing, and showcasing art while serving ethically sourced coffee and food from local vendors. The shop provides an arts education program for kids and adults, community workshops and socials, and teaching positions and low-cost exhibition space for artists. They plan to use grant funds to launch an ecommerce site, phase out single use plastics, compost their coffee grinds, and host live-streamed artist workshops.

The Eclectic Chic Boutique: Montclair, NJ

Eclectic_Chic2.jpgLeft: Nia is a mom, model, and owner of "Myrtle & Flossie," designing easy and empowering fashion for women and moms in all stages of life. Photo credit: Richard Jones. Right: The Eclectic Chic Boutique storefront . Photo Credit: Kristen Zachares 

The Eclectic Chic Boutique is a collective of 30 artists from New Jersey and beyond that helps connect artists and creative entrepreneurs to more customers. Patrons have come to know Eclectic Chic as the place to find high-quality, curated local crafts and learn how to live a healthy and vibrant lifestyle. The Boutique not only gives artists the opportunity to teach classes and host events at the shop, but they also provide mentoring to help makers build their brand and expand their reach. Eclectic Chic plans to use grant funds to upgrade their point of sale and hire more staff to assist with social media and ecommerce needs.

Etoile Boutique: Orlando, FL

Etoile_2.jpgVintage enthusiasts browsing the racks for one-of-a-kind finds. Photo credit: Falon Quillen

Located in Orlando’s Milk District Main Street, Etoile Boutique is a small, curated vintage shop that has stocked vintage looks and local makers for 14 years. With limited square footage and ever-changing stock, Etoile has thrown special events and focused on digital marketing to drive foot traffic and increase publicity for their shop. Along with a focus on personalized customer service, Etoile has provided a platform for local brands and artists, partnering with models and photographers for an annual lookbook and selling original art and handmade goods. As one of the charter members of The Milk District Main Street, Etoile remains active with the organization today. Etoile plans to use grant funds to implement a personalized shopping experience, complete with their customers’ style profiles and professional measurements. This program would allow the customers to opt-in for receiving direct messages from the shop when their perfect item comes into stock. To compliment this service, Etoile will also be upgrading their point of sales and existing stock room to elevate the overall efficiency of the shop in an effort to create a fluid styling experience for their customers.

Figpickels Toy Emporium: Coeur d’Alene, ID

Figpickel2.jpgThe interior of Figpickels Toy Emporium. Photo credit: Figpickels Toy Emporium.

Figpickels is a family-run toy store that has become an anchor and destination in downtown Coeur d’Alene. With a focus on creating an experience for their customers, Figpickels has a “hands-on” philosophy that allows patrons to play games and test products. They are dedicated to supporting education and aiding underserved children in the region through participating in after-school programs, hosting learn-though-play events, offering educator discounts, and providing teachers with free materials needed for their classrooms. Figpickels plans to use grant funds to launch a mobile toy store to make their products more accessible in areas where people may be unable to travel to their shop, such as senior centers, underserved school districts, and small mining towns. They also plan to create a customized web portal for ecommerce and to allow people to book the mobile store to come to their area. 

Homebase Skateshop: Bethlehem, PA

Homebase2.jpgManager, Josh Novak, Assistant Manager, Kali Po, and Owner, Andrew Po, alongside shop mascot, Holmes. Photo credit: Jake Clifford

Homebase is a hub for skateboarders and creatives in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania, focusing on building community through arts, advocacy, and education. Homebase began in 2002 as a brick-and-mortar skateboard shop in South Bethlehem’s Historic Conservation District. In 2015, they opened their second store, called 2nd Base Vintage, in Easton’s Historic District. What started as a small entrepreneurial business incubator evolved into a vintage clothing shop focused on up-cycled novelty and collectible pieces. From working with schools to provide skateboarding lessons to donating 200+ skateboards to local kids in need during the holidays, Homebase focuses on giving back. In 2020, they plan to open a third location, a more comprehensive version of the business incubator model for young entrepreneurs. Homebase plans to use grant funds for startup tasks and facility preparation for this location.   

Jo’s Gallery: Detroit, MI

Jos_Gallery2.jpgOwner Garnette Archer behind the counter of Jo’s Gallery. Photo credit: Amaraa Harris

Located on the famous Livernois Avenue of Fashion in Detroit, Jo's Gallery is known as a premier location for finding works by emerging and accomplished artists within the African American community. Jo Griffin, mother of the current owner Garnette Archer, founded Jos’ Gallery in the late 1980s with the mission of introducing African American families to the value of collecting and investing in African American Art. Garnette continues Jo’s legacy today by hosting exhibitions, crafting classes, and adult coloring parties, as well as continuing to offer eclectic giftware, unique artwork, and custom framing services. The gallery also offers their multi-purpose space to local book clubs, block clubs, and campaigns, which has transformed the gallery into a community gathering place. Jo’s Gallery plans to use grant funds to offer an online art exchange platform for art lovers, and collectors to exchange or buy/sell art. They also plan to launch an online framing tool that offers customized frames, mats, and glazing options.

Jon Henry General Store: New Market, VA

Jon_Henry2.jpgThe interior of the Jon Henry General store. Photo credit: Jon Henry General Store

Jon Henry General Store features an assortment of gifts, snacks, produce, crafts, and more. Their inventory represents over 50 local makers, growers, and artisans from Virginia, with a strong focus on items from the Shenandoah Valley, along with a growing selection of women and minority-owned companies. The store’s historic stone structure dates from 1802 and served as a General Store until 1835. Today, Jon Henry General Store is one of the few businesses in the community open daily with regular hours, allowing residents to access everyday grocery essentials. They accept about every form of payment, from EBT/SNAP to Contactless Payment. The general store actively partners with local churches, schools, and sports teams as sponsors, donors, and participants. They plan to use grant funds for new points of sale, developing an online portal for cooking tips and recipes that use their produce, and working with local restaurants to have pop-up meals and film chef videos to highlight local produce. 

Magpie Designs: Gillette, WY

Magpie_Designs.pngLeft and right: Magpies are collectors of things, and you'll find a little bit of everything at Magpie Designs. Center: Tara Stoneking, owner of Magpie Designs. Photo credit: Magpie Designs

Magpie Designs is an eclectic, second-generation brick-and-mortar store located in historic Gillette, Wyoming. One of the things that sets Magpie apart from other retail businesses is its drive to support Local Artisans. From its inception, Magpie’s primary focus has been building up the local maker community by providing guidance and business advice, as well as providing a fair and accessible place to sell their goods. Local artisan wares are mixed in with modern retail goods, boutique clothing, and a maker’s studio where people can learn how to refinish furniture, do craft projects, or book the space for a local gathering. Magpie is proud to donate to over 30 local charities and organizations. They plan to use grant funds to implement text message marketing, a store loyalty program that works between their point of sale and website, and host in-store events.

Oregon City Brewing Company: Oregon City, OR

OCB2.jpgThe Oregon City Brewing Company’s bustling patio. Photo credit: Bryce Morrow

Oregon City Brewing Company grew out of a garage and transformed a once derelict carpet store into a thriving brewery. Oregon City Brewing Company aims to make great craft beer and build community in the town they love. A product of a thriving Oregon craft beer culture, the brewery was shaped deeply by Oregon City values: community, quality craftsmanship, and a spirit of innovation. Donating and sponsoring events within the community is central to the brewery. Prior to social distancing rules, every Tuesday, they sponsor a different local nonprofit or charitable cause and donate $1 of every beverage sold, raising over $25,000 to local charities and nonprofits over three years. The brewery plans to launch an ecommerce site and explore a digital loyalty program with their grant funds.

West of Third: Kingman, AZ

WoThird2.jpgThe exterior of West of Third. Photo Credit: Imagine Photography

Located on Route 66, West of Third is a sustainable lifestyle boutique that houses several businesses in one location. Southwest Trading Co offers ethically sourced clothing, fair trade and locally made gifts, as well as zero waste products. Wet Dirt creates hand-crafted seasonal skin care products made with locally grown herbs. Rosebird Gardens hosts a weekly farm stand with local produce and stocks Arizona specialty foods. Larrea Blossoms is a sustainably grown farmer florist that uses US-grown products. Together, all four businesses seek to nurture their local community and provide a one-stop shop for people looking for a sustainable alternative. West of Third plans to use funds to renovate their backyard space to host workshops, a pop-up market, and farm-to-table dinners.