One of the most beautiful indoor spaces in Hampton Roads will soon become an incubator for an industry that could use a shot in the arm: street-level retail.
Selden Arcade, nestled between The Main and Slover Library in downtown Norfolk, will become host to entrepreneurs looking for a chance to launch their retail concept in an encouraging, well-trafficked environment. The leases will be short and the rents low, fostering experimentation among local upstarts.
It is heartening to see this project come to life. Local businesses are what give our community its unique character and soul — they are the ‘Main Street’ politicians on both sides of the aisle love to celebrate — yet, in recent years, the kinds of businesses owned and operated by our friends and neighbors have found themselves at a considerable disadvantage. The national brands have absurd advantages in scale, supply chain control, marketing budgets, operating and stashed capital, research/development capacities, and political sway. It has become the local Davids versus the Fortune 500 Goliaths.
Not to mention Amazon, the online marketplace giant, which has likely entered monopoly status, and by the general rules of capitalism should be broken up — but likely never will be, swallowing up market share (and opportunities for small, local businesses) as it continues to grow.
If we want our kids to enjoy the unique local businesses that make their Norfolk upbringing singular and special, we can’t just leave it to a cold, ‘free’ market that could care less about Norfolk or your kids. We need things like Selden Market to stack the deck just a little bit in favor of the little guys. We need people like Drew Ungvarsky from GROW, Mary Miller from the Downtown Norfolk Council, and the City of Norfolk to work together on projects like this.
We spoke to Careyann Weinberg, Selden Market’s Interim Retail Market Director, to get the inside scoop on what’s next at Selden, and how you can get involved.
AltDaily: Tell me about Selden Market.
Careyann Weinberg: The Selden Market is a new space opening this fall in Downtown Norfolk in the historic Selden Arcade. The market is a space for innovative entrepreneurs to develop their street-level ideas in a low-risk environment, offering short-term leases and low rents, with a supportive community. It serves as a retail incubator for new and emerging businesses, offering mentorship and education. It also supports established businesses who are interested in bringing their concepts to Downtown Norfolk.
Selden Market features three types of opportunities for businesses: incubator storefronts, mentor storefronts and pop-up booths. So there are opportunities for a variety of businesses to dip their foot in the Downtown Norfolk market. We’ll even have a shared community kitchen for any retail concepts that have a food and beverage aspect.
The location is ideal because it’s in the center of all the new development downtown. The market will actually open directly into both the Slover Library and Norfolk Hilton: The Main. The new Slover Maker-studio will be within the same building as the market and just out our Main Street doors you are steps away from Waterside. In the bustle of all the new projects, the market will host a variety of creative retail businesses. It allows us to really showcase some of the amazing entrepreneurs we have in the area and to attract new, innovative businesses who are interested in Norfolk.
I really hope to continually bring fresh and exciting businesses to the Selden Market storefronts and of course to the pop-up spaces!
What options are available for interested businesses?
Incubator storefronts (new and emerging, independent businesses) are $225-325/month with a 6-month lease. Mentor storefronts (established businesses with at least 3 years of operation) are $500-900 with a 1-year lease. The first phase of Vibrant Spaces had nearly 100 applicants and the majority of those applicants were interested in the smallest space. Selden Market allows us to focus on these smaller, lower-risk spaces for businesses that are all 300-700 square feet. Storefront rent includes a warm-shell space, utilities and wifi. Pop-up booths are also available at $100/week or $300/month. I encourage everyone to check out our website, seldenmarket.com, for details on the various types of spaces available.
We’re also partnering with Retail Alliance to offer free courses for Selden Market tenants with a focus on financial management, merchandising, marketing, customer service, and human resources. Incubator tenants will also be paired with mentor tenants who can help advise them in their regular operations. Additionally, we’ll have workshops and guest speakers on a regular basis.
You said there will be a shared kitchen. Tell me more about that.
Our current plans for the kitchen include small appliances, cold storage, and prep tables, possibly ovens as well. At this time, we do not have plans to include a hood and associated equipment (grill, fryer, etc.). Final kitchen layout and equipment will be determined in the weeks ahead and will be informed by tenant needs.
Can someone rent office, storage or studio space?
Tenants within the market may rent additional office, storage or studio space for an additional fee based on size, condition and needs.
Will the market ever host events?
Yes! Selden Market is part of the Vibrant Spaces program and we want to make sure we are just that… a vibrant space! We’ll host workshops, guest speakers, live music and a wide range of other special events on a regular basis that support the new businesses within the market and create unique experiences for our guests. While Selden Market will hold its own events, we’ll encourage our tenants to also help produce regular events within the market. This could mean teaming up with a fellow tenant to introduce a collaboration or focusing an event around a new product launch.
How do interested businesses apply?
Applications are accepted on our website, seldenmarket.com. The first round of applications are due July 13th. After that, applications are accepted on a rolling basis as space allows within the market. So keep sending them in!
What kind of businesses are you hoping will apply?
I’m pulling this directly off our website because it’s honestly a great summary of the types of tenants we want to fill the market with:
A Selden Market business is fresh, innovative, and not afraid to bend the rules of the traditional business model. The strongest applicants will have concepts that embrace new business ideas and the ability to thrive in the modern era. Ones that create unique experiences, products, and services. We want entrepreneurs who understand that the place they create is just as important as the product they offer. Above all, we’re looking for businesses that exemplify the original Vibrant Spaces℠ program criteria: incredible design, regular activation, and exceptional offerings.
We understand how difficult it is to start a new business, and we know that some people still need to juggle their current positions and responsibilities alongside their new venture. Because of that, we’re really into the possibility of a collective space(s) as well. Having multiple retailers team up to bring a concept that allows each business owner to take turns watching over the store 1-2 days a week is a great way to scale down a model even more but still be a part of a street-level storefront space. So please, get creative and team up!
Here’s a list of some of the types of businesses we have heard people want to see in Selden Market. So if you know anyone who would open up a great version of any of these, SHARE AWAY!
- Blow out salon
- Jewelry stores (some inexpensive, well-designed options)
- Recreational cooking classes & other workshops (you can count on us having workshops and classes!)
- Art supply store
- Toy store
- Men’s clothing stores
- Bike shop
- Incredible consignment / thrift clothing stores
- Home goods & housewares store
- Farm market / small grocer / bodega
- Retro arcade
- Nail salon
- Fabric / knitting store
- Ethnic clothing store
- Wild/organic herbalist shop
- Minimalist shoe store
- Ice cream
- Children’s clothing, shoes, etc.
- Grab & go / street food options
- Spice shop
- High-end reused home improvement / home goods store
- Hardware store
- Florist / plant store
- Sneaker store
- Boutique clothing stores
- Cigar shop
- Makeup / health & beauty stores
- Plant based food options