The Cleveland Bazaar
has steadily grown since Shannon Okey started holding the pop-up independent craft show events in 2004.
Beginning as a single holiday show in 78th Street Studios
, the Cleveland Bazaar today has expanded to host year-round events all over Cleveland and has formed partnerships with both community development corporations and venues around the city.
“We have worked with hundreds of small local businesses over the years, and many have graduated over time to their own full-time retail locations,” says Okey, citing Cleveland Clothing Co.
and We Bleed Ohio
as two examples.
This week, Okey announced Cleveland Bazaar’s latest partnership with Legacy Village
in Lyndhurst. Beginning in May, Cleveland Bazaar Retail Lab will operate as a business incubator out of two vacant 1,400 and 1,200 square-foot storefronts.
The Retail Lab will serve as a storefront for a revolving list of artists and craftspeople to sell their goods and experience life as small business owners.
“It’s space they could not necessarily afford, or get, on their own,” Okey explains, adding that Legacy Village approached her about doing some outdoor events this summer.
In addition to serving as a location for the vendors, Cleveland Bazaar will also host themed pop-up events around holidays such as Father’s Day or Legacy’s annual art festival
The Retail Lab spaces are across from Restoration Hardware in the heart of Legacy Village. They provide the perfect temporary space for Cleveland Bazaar Retail Lab vendors and events this summer.
The deal is a win-win for both Cleveland Bazaar and Legacy Village. Okey says she’ll be working closely with Legacy Village management and the public relations team to mutually boost awareness. “We're all incredibly excited about the project,” she says.
Before potential vendors are admitted to the experimental shop, however, they will have to apply
. “They will be required to submit working proposals that include everything from their marketing and social media plans for the time they occupy the space to an agreement to work through an educational program we're developing,” explains Okey, “everything you need to think about if you’d run your own business.”
She adds that many vendors are concerned about the cost of opening a brick-and-mortar business, but there are an array of issues associated with opening a store that go beyond dollars and cents. And, Okey says, “It’s definitely a lot more work than people think.”
With the number of experienced artists who have worked at Cleveland Bazaar events, Okey is sure the concepts will be well-received. “From the get go, we’ve been fortunate to have experienced vendors who have done shows in other cities before,” she says. “We’re going to bring our A game.”
Nearly 100 potential vendors have already expressed interest in private messages to Okey through Cleveland Bazaar’s closed Facebook
page. “I’d say we got interest,” she says.
Cleveland Bazaar Retail Lab is due to open in early May and will operate at least through August.