There’s a new retail store in Mt. Airy, but shoppers may have missed it.
The Vendors Boutique moved into 7167 Germantown Ave. in November, but signs for Mainly Shoes & More, the space’s former tenant, still adorn the outside of the property.The change has only recently been signaled via small flyers posted near the front of the entrance.
Mt. Airy resident Lisa Locke moved her business to the neighborhood after a three-year stint in Northeast Philadelphia. She said the location near the Roosevelt Mall was not bringing in the kind of money she’d hoped, a situation she pins, in part, on demographics.
“I just jumped right on it,” said Locke of opportunity to take over the space.
The store currently features an eclectic mix of 10 vendors under one roof in a “boutique style setting,” including Locke herself and her business partner Hannah Stewart. The rest of the store’s merchants have come from relationships with people Locke’s worked with in the past or via “worth of mouth,” she said.
Consumer goods sold at the store range from Mary Kay Cosmetics to photography services to one author’s self-published book. Ladies’ fashions and accessories make up the majority of the products on display.
Locke sells handbags and other fashion items under her Buzi Bodi and Lady Locke labels. Stewart sells body oils and vintage jewelry.
Many of the vendors also offer style advice and motivational consultation services.
“We do a little bit of everything,” said Locke.
Locke said she came up with the idea for Vendors Boutique after discovering that people have a desire to have their own shop, but often feel the responsibilities of being a sole proprietor in a troubled economy makes that goal impossible. Vendor’s Boutique allows merchants to remain in business for themselves by “pulling people together to do it together,” she said.
“We are successful if we learn how to share,” said Locke.
Continuing with that thread, all of the vendors share the store’s operational costs and take turns manning the store. Locke added that The Vendors Boutique earns “nothing off what’s sold” by merchants. She declined to give further details on the store’s business model.
Locke has employed the concept before with another venture, SoZo sister, a faith-based organization with the goal of helping women to become self-sufficient entrepreneurs.
The Vendors Boutique will have a month to month lease at the Germantown Avenue store after Locke rides out the remainder of the rental agreement held by Mainly Shoe’s owner, Skip Tyree.
Though there’s always risk involved in opening a small business, Locke said she thinks Mt. Airy will provide an “excellent opportunity” for her store’s vendors because of the community’s appreciation for creativity.