Retail revival

Shoppes in Mount Joy reborn

Holly White//May 18, 2012

Retail revival

Shoppes in Mount Joy reborn

Holly White//May 18, 2012

Owner Jackie Werts took over the co-op, previously known as the Shoppes of Main Street Mount Joy, on April 1.

The co-op had been managed by the borough’s downtown development organization, Main Street Mount Joy. The nonprofit is going through a transition period to re-examine its vision, mission and goals, and it is searching for a new executive director.

The board of Main Street Mount Joy wasn’t able to put a lot of effort into continuing to run the Shoppes, Werts said.

Some vendors left this spring for a variety of reasons, including disbanding their businesses, finding different locations or downsizing, she said.

Werts opened her store, Sugar Babies Boutique, in the Shoppes only in February after selling online since 2008.

“I had just started my business here and been pretty successful so far. I didn’t want that to go away,” she said.

She said she and her husband talked and decided that, if they made some changes, Werts could keep the Shoppes going.

Only two vendors were left in the building at the time of transition: Werts’ operation and Baskets by Chris, which had been there just over a year.

“I moved quickly to fill our four empty rooms. I ran an ad in the Merchandiser, posted the information on Facebook and talked to people,” she said.

By the first week in May, she had four new businesses in the Shoppes and had repainted the interior in bright, sunny colors. She plans to start several new initiatives.

Werts said she ordered a new sign for the Shoppes’ front and will soon repaint the exterior.

The vendors are partnering for regular local advertising, she said. She’s also created a Facebook page for the co-op and revamped its website.

The Shoppes has one vendor per room, and Werts redesigned one of the large front rooms to offer multiple spaces.

“Some small businesses might want to just rent some space and not a whole room,” and the price is more affordable, she said.

Werts said she revived the artists’ gallery in the hallway and plans to hold gallery openings some Sundays, with artists displaying their work throughout the building.

She also plans to keep the Shoppes open later for Mount Joy’s Fourth Fridays and has invited several vendors to share space in the building and on the porch for more exposure and variety, she said.

Werts also wants to steer the co-op back to its original purpose: a business incubator.

“The whole purpose of the Shoppes is to build up a clientele, then get out into Mount Joy or Lancaster,” she said.

The Shoppes aren’t operated to make a profit but to keep all the businesses within going, she said. The rent is kept low and includes all overhead costs, she said.

Everyone at the Shoppes is considered an owner, with their own keys and regular shifts at the co-op, Werts said.

Chris Landis, owner of Baskets by Chris, said she’s excited about the new look and the vendors working together for advertising.

She appreciates the affordable space and small-town atmosphere of the co-op, as well as the chance to point her customers to a retail location, Landis said.

The owners of Random Riches 318 took the plunge to turn their online business into a physical store, they said.

Bovendra Yogashwer and Stephanie Keefer began selling home and garden décor items online in October.

“We had discussed opening a retail location over and over,” Keefer said.

When they heard from Werts that she was looking for businesses to fill space at the Shoppes, they decided it was time.

“It’s been a good learning experience to work with other small businesses (with a retail location) — helpful for us, since we haven’t done it before,” Yogashwer said.

They’ve sold more than they expected so far, and they hope their presence at the Shoppes eventually leads to a free-standing store, they said.

Jessica Miller, owner of Everafter Designs by JLM, opened a studio in the Shoppes this month after seven years of working out of her home. The co-op was attractive because the location will draw in others that might not have stopped in to her studio by itself, she said.

“I don’t have to be tied down here. I can schedule appointments, have access to the artists’ gallery to exhibit my portraits and landscapes and can display in the front window,” she said.

She hopes the changes help bring more people into the Main Street area, Miller said.

With all of the changes, Werts said sees the business increasing over time. The Shoppes have a few spaces left in the front room, she said.

She wants the Shoppes to play a role in revitalizing the downtown.

“We want to help build the foot traffic (and) build the experience downtown,” she said.

She’s also dedicated to helping all the vendors grow their client base and find standalone locations, if they’d like.

“I’ll do whatever I can to help them,” she said.

Businesses at The Shoppes on Main in Mount Joy:

Baskets by Chris

Everafter Designs by JLM Photography*

Random Riches 318*

Sugar Babies Boutique

• Susquehanna Herbal Soy by OWC*

• Wreaths & More by Michele*

* New since April 1.