Local small business owner Kimberly Thigpen had a plan when she opened The Bath Place in downtown Rocky Mount a few years ago.
Thigpen’s store, which creates and sells handcrafted natural bath and body products such as soaps, lotions and scrubs, was recently approved as a vendor with specialty grocery store chain Whole Foods Market Inc. Thigpen said products from The Bath Place will be on shelves in three Whole Foods stores in North Carolina, including two in Raleigh and one in Wilmington.
The Bath Place products will be in a Whole Foods store off Wade Avenue in Raleigh, and hit the shelves of the North Raleigh Whole Foods store on Six Forks Road on Thursday, said Thigpen.
While Thigpen started her retail store in 2012, she has been selling natural products as an online business since 2009. She said the process to get her products within the supermarket chain specializing in natural and organic foods took a little more than a year.
“This was a dream come true and it was a goal of mine from the start,” Thigpen said. “We have been actively engaged in the rigorous application process for a full year, and we could not be more grateful for this opportunity. For people that make natural products, Whole Foods is the place you want to be in because they have my target audience. They have the brand recognition and it gives your brand creditability to be accepted by a national retailer. This gets my products out there without having to be physically located in all these places. This is going to open doors for me to move into other larger retailers down the road.”
Thigpen said her approval also includes her items being in six states that make up the Whole Foods’ south region, namely North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama. Right now, Thigpen’s goal is to focus in state and have her products within six Whole Food stores in North Carolina by the end of the year. She hopes to have products on the shelves of all 12 of the North Carolina Whole Food stores by the end of 2015.
“I want to focus on North Carolina stores, and then later look at other stores in other states,” Thigpen said.
John Jesso, Rocky Mount downtown development manager, was thrilled to learn the news about The Bath Place expanding into a bigger market.
“The office of downtown Rocky Mount would like to congratulate Kimberly Thigpen and The Bath Place staff on its impressive new vendor relationship with Whole Foods Market,” Jesso said. “Not only is a successful business like The Bath Place a reflection of hard work from its owners, it is also a proven example of how important ‘location, location, location’ is when making decisions about your business. The Bath Place shows us how, as a business center, downtown plays a major role. Not only does downtown Rocky Mount represent one of the largest concentration of small businesses in the community, it also serves as an incubator for new businesses – the successes of tomorrow.”
With the increased demand of her natural products, Thigpen will need more assistance to continue to push out her hand made products. She is looking into the possibility of bringing more people on to help in some capacity. Aside from getting her products on a bigger scale, Thigpen has the aspiration of creating more jobs in the local area.
“I want to see what I can supply and slowly bring on a couple people because it is going to be a big job to supply six stores,” Thigpen said. “I have to build the kind of infrastructure that will allow me to do that. I’m going to need people to come in and help me in doing some other things. Since becoming a business owner, I’ve always wanted to hire people and create jobs in Rocky Mount. I’m looking forward to doing that within the next year and more going forward.”