Berks County is full of crafty people creating all sorts of homemade, unique items. But where can you find these items without going to a street festival or craft fair? Joy Bailey wanted to solve that problem. So she decided to turned her idea of showcasing local artists into a retail business in Kenhorst, named Uniquely Local.
Spending the past 20 years working for an IT company, Bailey was tired of the daily corporate grind. “I reached a transition point in my career and wanted to do something new that focused on the local economy, and make an impact on the community” says Bailey.
Knowing the challenges local artists face when displaying their work, Bailey wanted to start a business that would act as a combination retail shop, online store, and business incubator. “I like going to craft fairs. I would see everyone setup, and think to myself, this is incredibly time consuming and labor intensive. So I thought instead i’d turn the concept on its head and make a business highlight locally made items.”
Building a new business managing multiple vendors isn’t easy. Before she opened, Bailey had to network with local artists to generate a vendor list. “Before I opened the store, I visited several local craft fairs and festivals gathering contact info of different artists and vendors. I was able to gather 80 initial applications.” says Bailey.
With a grand opening in April, Bailey chose to setup her shop in the Kenhorst Shopping Plaza due to proximity to bigger retail stores, and the distance to her own house. “I man the store six days a week, so I wanted to find something close by.”
Operating for a little over two months, Bailey has vendors from Berks, Lancaster, Lebanon, and York County. “What’s important to realize is that our inventory will always be changing. Existing vendors will bring new items in and we will also add new vendors”. Walking through, the store has an upscale vibe, featuring home decor, glassware, jewelry, baby products, and soaps.
Unlike a consignment shop or thrift store, all the items in Uniquely Local are brand new and part of an artist or small businesses collection. “I consider it more of a gift shop, due to the variety of things we stock.” explained Bailey.
For those looking to have items for sale, Bailey has two options. The first is a split of the sale price of each item. The other option is to rent display space. Bailey says this option provides brands with a static display area for their products, and more prominent signage. When asked about local food products Bailey said, “Unfortunately, I can’t sell perishable food items, so I’ve created in-store events that will bring those vendors in to showcase their goods”.
Looking to the future, Bailey is excited to expand her business. “A lot of our vendors make custom pieces, I’m already working with a few of them to be able to offer customized products. Say someone wants a custom piece of jewelry, artwork, or something sewn from scratch. We will be able to take that idea and forward it to our vendors”.
Uniquely Local is located in the Kenhorst Shopping Plaza, 660 Kenhorst Plaza, Reading, PA 19607. Open M 11-8pm, W-F 11-8pm, Weekends 9-6pm. (610) 553-5312. Website: uniquely-local.com