The Essence of Our Merimbula is now officially open for business after a launch party on Monday night, and the first customers walking through the door on Tuesday morning, December 1.
"It's been a crazy three weeks since we got the keys to the shop," Merimbula Chamber of Commerce president Nigel Ayling said.
"We have been working on this concept for a few months now but we only settled on a location in November when we locked in our vendors.
"We had to gut the old office and fit out the shop from scratch, at what is already a very busy time of the year.
"We were very fortunate to receive a $20,000 grant from Australian Mutual Funds to help with the set up and fit out. Without that it would have never happened."
While the collective store features six different vendors all with their own products, the layout is designed in such a way that it all appears seamless and products are intermingled with each other. The product ranges include children's swimwear, skin care products, eco friendly products, lounge wear, artwork, as well as vintage homewares, furniture paint and accessories.
The Essence is a place you can visit to find the perfect gift or a unique local design. The store features one of a kind goods from independent craftspeople, creatives and service providers.
The chamber has employed a part time manager and each vendor volunteers some of their time each week to work in the store, and keep all of their products up to date.
Store manager Jo-Anne Rangott has just moved from Canberra with her partner and is delighted to be part of the project.
"When I first heard about the shop, I wanted to be part of it with my products, but when the opportunity came up to manage it as well, I was very excited.
"It's great to see all of these local providores bring their products into the store. Some of the businesses do market stalls on the weekends, but now they will be able to feature their products in a beautiful retail setting and showcase their products to visitors and residents.
"We are gearing up for a busy summer."
But the shop is more than a retail store, it is part of a business incubator program for the chamber.
"We want to give these businesses a leg up and help support their growth," Mr Ayling said.
"We will be providing them with training, resources and mentoring so that they can build their business, beyond these walls. We have invested heavily into this project and we want it to succeed for them as much as we do."
The Essence is located directly opposite the Post Office in Merimbula Drive and will be open seven days a week. For more information visit www.ourmerimbula.com.au/the-essence/