Are you an entrepreneur with a great idea for a showstopper retail venture, but you don’t know quite how to get started and you don’t have the resources to commit to a four or five year lease for a retail space?
If so, you might want to get to know “The Garages” a non-profit organization launched in 2019. The program supports entrepreneurs as they plan, build, and develop new retail ideas in a low risk, supportive space that fosters learning and growth.
The non-profit focuses on helping entrepreneurs with new or unique retail-based business concepts that provide desired services or products to address demand from residents, nearby employees and visitors to the area.
“We select business concepts that currently do not exist locally or that have a new spin on a traditional concept,” says Jaimie Garnett, whose company J. Garnett Strategic Business Consulting, provides strategic business coaching to incubator tenants.
“We stimulate a rotating line-up of what’s up and coming and provide the space, resources and connections necessary for success.”
So far, the program has helped eight entrepreneurs launch their businesses and opened five “incubator” locations.
In addition to helping entrepreneurs, the program helps the city by positively impacting talent retention and by helping draw tourists to Wichita streets.
Gannett says The Garages is especially interested in ventures that allow minority entrepreneurs to share their culture with visitors to Wichita.
“This is actually a very diverse city and we love being able to spotlight that,” she said.
Some Garage Entrepreneurs
One of The Garages first clients was GROW Giesen Plant Shop, which was launched from their Cleveland Corner incubator space in the Douglas Design District. After a successful launch, GROW has now moved to a bigger space at 320 S. Market and The Garages has developed an incubator space next door.
“One of our goals is to help each program tenant have a customized mentorship team. Locating them next to a successful business allows them to share traffic and to make it easy for them to get advice and encouragement,” Garnett said.
2 Beatz Boutique, offering a variety of unique women’s clothing, is now in the space next to GROW.
Another boutique, Peppered Skye, is located in the Revolutsia container development near Central and Grove.
Las Adelitas Cafe, a unique coffee shop that spotlights Hispanic culture is in an incubator space near First and Market downtown. Las Adelitas features fresh roasted coffee beans for sale as well as flavored coffees and fruit drinks.
Application and Support
Garnett said the goal is to select business concepts that do not exist locally or that have a new spin on a traditional concept and provide them the customized support they need to succeed. The specific support is based on the needs of the individual business and there isn’t a specific deadline to apply.
Tenants can get started with a $1,000 start-up investment and a $500 professional services allowance. In addition, they get tiered rent at a brick and mortar incubator, strategic business coaching and a customized mentorship team based on the entrepreneur’s areas of growth.
With support, The Garages’ goal is to increase the success of start-ups past their first year.
Garnett said last year the program had a significant influx in applications. The non-profit organization is primarily funded by the Knight Foundation Fund at the Wichita Foundation. Other funders include Fidelity Bank, the City of Wichita and Bokeh Development.
To learn more about The Garages or apply to become a tenant, go to www.TheGaragesWichita.com