By Yousuf Hafuda
Marketplace on Main, the local craft and gift shop, has recently changed locations, moving into a shared space with Cornerstone Quilts, where it aims to implement a new and promising business concept.
The business, which had previously been jointly owned by a number of small local vendors who shared the 913 Main Street address, was purchased by Lee Plisch, the owner of Cornerstone Quilts, who saw an opportunity to organize the venture around one central entity.
“The Marketplace needs … an anchor store, and Cornerstone is the anchor store,” Plisch said.
Plisch is a longtime business owner who started her quilting business about nine years ago in Newton. Two years ago, she started a small shop in Grinnell, which she merged with her Newton venture in the current Cornerstone Quilts location about a year later.
The original Marketplace opened in 2009 to allow several struggling businesses to pool resources and remain open by operating under one roof.
On Jan. 6, these businesses began moving to their current location at 928 Main Street, across the street from the Hallmark store. The new location is much bigger than the previous one and has ample space for new vendors to rent. Although the Marketplace is currently operational, not all the vendors have had a chance to move in.
“We should be up and running by the first of February,” Plisch said. “I have around six vendors now that are open for business, but I have six yet to come in.”
Already, Plisch has introduced a number of changes to the Marketplace’s business model.
“We’re charging by the square foot, and one of the biggest changes we’ve made is that there will be no hours required [for vendors to work],” Plisch said.
While the Marketplace had previously required several of the business owners to work at their own shops, now they need only rent a space and receive the proceeds from the business. Plisch will manage the shop herself, a change that should especially benefit the vendors who work jobs or have other commitments throughout the day.
While the cooperative structure of the Marketplace remains intact, Plisch says she plans to have a more engaged role with the other businesses.
“[The businesses] are discretionary, but also monitored,” Plisch said. “I want to make sure that all our vendors that are in here are providing a really high quality product, but it doesn’t have to related to crafting industry to be in here.”
At this point, the Marketplace has, in addition to a wide selection of quilts, used books, vintage house wares and antiques, soaps and lotions, candy and several other interesting crafts.
Plisch plans on bringing in as many vendors as possible to create a building with a wide array of products.
“It’s my goal to continue to add vendors through the year until we’re full,” she said.
Along with the products available in the Marketplace, many craft-related classes are also routinely offered, such as knitting.
The Marketplace on Main is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and is closed on Sunday.