Once a Saturday pilgrimage of every suburbanite, Americans are turning their backs on going to the mall: nearly one-quarter of malls in the US are at risk of closing within the next five years.
But amidst the rubble of retail armageddon is a growing movement to support small, local businesses: restaurants, makers and retail shops, many of which might be too small to offer online shopping or even rent their own building or storefront.
“Our CEO Dean Emerson had a vision to offer the community, and the surrounding public, the opportunity to get fresh fruits, vegetables, and to experience a lot of small businesses,” says Rachel Trumble, the Marketplace Director at the SVRC Marketplace. “In turn, it would help people with entrepreneurial growth, and allow small businesses that may not be able to afford getting their own brick and mortar, their own building, the opportunity to help their dreams become a reality.”
The marketplace currently provides a home for more than 25 vendors offering food, retail, and services. Most vendors rent individual booths, allowing them to start a business without the substantial investment of buying or renting a building or storefront.
Along with providing a location for businesses to begin, the Marketplace also ensures that new businesses start off on the right foot.
“If someone contacts me saying that they want to start a business in the Marketplace, the first thing I'm going to ask them is, ‘What business plan do you have?’”, says Trumble. “If they don't have a business plan, then we are able to connect them with the Central Michigan University Research Corporation on our second floor who can help them through an accelerated business program. We can also connect them with the Saginaw Economic Development Corporation who can assist them with the financial aspect of their business.”
These efforts go beyond simply being a landlord, and Trumble says that’s the goal.
“Our job here is to help them be successful, whatever that looks like,” she says.