Marketplace seeks small retailers


Staff Writer

Sunday, July 22, 2018

In a lot of cases, people face many challenges when they are looking to start their own business.

The major obstacle is usually tied to not having the money or the capital for various reasons. A local business owner is in the process of starting a new business venture in Rocky Mount to provide would-be entrepreneurs every possible tool to make success possible.

Fred George is the founder and owner of Trade It stores in North Carolina, which includes the local store on Wesleyan Boulevard that has been around for eight years. George is allowing anyone with a dream to start a retail store with little expense, no employees and minimal risk.

George has signed a 15-year lease at the former Home Trends Furniture and Mattress store at 2916 Sunset Ave. in the Englewood Shopping Center to start a new concept called Small Shops Marketplace.

George said at Small Shops Marketplace, all the needed insurance and permits, employees, maintenance contracts, utilities, selling supplies, tax accounts and other expenses usually required for a business owner will be taken care of so people can concentrate on their space at the location.

“This concept can be for someone who wants to start with a shop in the Marketplace and grow into a larger retail location, someone that wants to make a few thousand extra dollars a year, while staying on their job or just selling some more extra inventory and turning it into cash without having to sit for hours with your goods,” George said.

The space at Small Shops Marketplace can hold up to as many as 180 tenants or vendors. George said for people to open their own store in the Marketplace, all they have to do is rent a space.

The cost for a space varies depends on the size needed with the smallest being 8-by-10 at $160 a month. Tenants in the facility can lease a space from month to month and not have to be locked into a long-term lease. 

Owners can price their merchandise on display in their store area and don’t have to be present in the store. With the Marketplace open seven days a week, staff will assist and ring up sales and accounts will be credited. George said this concept is different than a flea market because he believes people will be able to make more in a week than just a couple days setting up shop in a flea market.

“You will want to restock your shop weekly or more often and have your merchandise displayed neatly and professionally,” George said. “But there is no need to baby sit your store because this is a true set it and forget it business where you can make money while you are at your day job or out fishing.”

George said Small Shops Marketplace is a concept started by his uncle about 10 years ago in Kentucky, has expanded to include 20 locations also in Indiana and West Virginia. George said he and his father, Ron George, a longtime businessman who tutored him in business and is the senior business consultant of Small Shops Marketplace, both spent several days earlier this year in Kentucky learning about the operations.

Ron George said they have all the knowledge needed for their version of the Small Shops Marketplace to be successful in Rocky Mount with the hope of opening more locations in the future in Wilson, Roanoke Rapids and Greenville where tenants in Rocky Mount could also eventually locate.

He added the hope is to have a diversity of tenants selling different items in the first location to fit the demographics of every individual. Ron George said they’ve made a pretty big investment in this business venture in Rocky Mount, but the risk is well worth it to help people get ahead.

“This country was founded on small business and it’s hard for a person in small business because everything costs so much to get going,” he said. “We have more middle-class small people that need to make money to help the economy, so this is a win-win situation for everybody.”

Fred George said he wants to do whatever he can to make sure tenants in the Small Shops Marketplace do well.

“My financial interest and the people in the store are completely aligned because for me to do well they also have to be doing well,” he said. “I’ve done a lot of business over the years, but this is something that I’m most excited about doing.”

Small Shops Marketplace will hold an informational meeting for interest tenants at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the store.