Pop-up shop hopes to help local businesses, artisans prosper

Business News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Many small businesses in Rhode Island are struggling to survive as the pandemic continues to hinder the economy.

Recognizing a need in the community, two entrepreneurs created a pop-up shop as a way to help support local artisans and business owners.

The idea for Bloom Collective started as a conversation over the summer and quickly grew into a reality, according to co-founders Savannah Barkley and Heather Wolfenden.

Nestled into a cozy space on South Main Street in Providence, the nature of Bloom Collective is to pop up and be in one place for a glimpse of time.

“This idea that these sort of beautiful blooms that would pop up in various locations, and they’re only there for a moment, and you kind of have to capture that and then they’re gone,” Barkley said, explaining the origin of the name.

Barkley’s business is Sir Milky Quartz, which she said makes handmade botanical accessories and does vintage resale, while Wolfenden owns a company called Fresh & Fossil that sells vintage and pre-owned clothing.

The pair said they had met here and there over the course of several years, but it wasn’t until the pandemic affected how they sell their goods that their partnership blossomed.

“My business was based off of pop-up events and to sell to small retailers … and those retailers weren’t buying anything, pop-up events weren’t happening, so I was kind of watching what I was working for over the last few years fall apart all at once,” Barkley recalled.

Wolfenden said businesses like theirs were forced to make changes.

“This has been a very trying time for all of us,” she said. “I think that all local small businesses have had to shift their businesses plan significantly.”

The pop-up store, located at 271 South Main St., carries their products as well as merchandise from more than 50 other local businesses, including a variety of handmade items, jewelry and vintage clothing.

“A one-stop shop for people to come in, get all their holiday shopping done, and really just support as many local people as we can,” Wolfenden added.

From the changing window display to the different vendors who create items on site over the weekend, they said the store creates a safe space where shoppers can engage.

“We don’t see it as just a retail opportunity. We see it as a collective of artisans that can do whatever they put their minds to,” Barkley said.

Barkley and Wolfenden also said they’re holding a fundraiser to support Providence-based New Urban Arts, which works with underprivileged youth.

“We’re creating these scratch tickets called ‘Play for Providence’ and we’ve involved dozens of local businesses that are donating to us,” Wolfenden explained. “People can scratch off their ticket starting in a couple weeks and they’re going to see what they won from a local, Providence-based business.”

All of the funds will go toward New Urban Arts, according to Wolfenden.

Bloom Collective will be at the South Main Street location through Christmas Eve, and they plan to pop up in a different spot sometime in the spring.

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