Merimbula chamber seeks vendors for new store collective

The Merimbula Chamber of Commerce is seeking expressions of interest from small businesses keen to sell their product through a collective marketplace.

The concept being explored is to utilise the old Millers shop in Market St to house up to 15 local businesses, with each vendor having their own 3x3m space, similar to that which is available at local markets.

Merimbula's Chamber of Commerce has an exciting concept in the works to convert the old Millers store into a collective marketplace.

Merimbula's Chamber of Commerce has an exciting concept in the works to convert the old Millers store into a collective marketplace.

However, unlike markets, this venture is designed to be permanent fixture in town with the chamber planning to take up a two-year lease on the property.

The fit out will also be of a retail quality to ensure the store is a great addition to the existing shopping strip.

"The idea has been on the table since last year, but the bushfires and COVID got in the way of the plans," chamber president Nigel Ayling said.

"Last month we revived the idea and applied for a grant through the Australian Mutuals Foundation and we received $20,000. This will help us get it going and assist with some of the set up costs, and the ongoing costs will be shared amongst vendors."

The concept is not a new idea and there are many versions of them around the country, including a group called the Collective Beat in Kiama and Gerringong.

What is unusual though is that this one will be run by the chamber as a business, with a full time manager employed to staff the store and run the day to day operation, Mr Ayling said.

"This will be particularly appealing to people who don't have time to run a store themselves or go to the markets every weekend and give them a permanent outlet for their products."

Apart from the obvious benefits of being able to sell products through the store, vendors will receive a lot of extra support being part of the chamber's incubator program.

Vendors will be able to participate in workshops in a range of topics including finance, export and marketing so they can develop their business further.

They will also be able to list their products online through the chamber's website for free and their products will be promoted for them on social media as well.

Vendors will be responsible for maintaining and merchandising their own space and asked to volunteer a small amount of time each month to cover busy periods and help maintain the store presence.

The Merimbula Chamber of Commerce will be holding a presentation in the Millers shop on Monday, August 17, at 5.30pm and will be taking expressions of interest on the night.

You can also find out more on the chamber website at ourmerimbula.com.au.