BizStarts, the Milwaukee-based nonprofit that’s helped to mentor and train entrepreneurs since 2008, has announced its plans to open a marketplace that will allow its small business hopefuls to sell their wares and communicate with customers.
Dubbed BizStarts Marketplace, the store and training center is slated to open in a few months in a first-floor storefront at 161 S. First St. in Milwaukee's Walkers Point neighborhood.
The nonprofit, which has long operated out of a suite at the Schlitz Park complex, wanted a place where students could have a space to actually set up shop, without having to spend time and money traveling to and renting space at farmers markets and other venues, said Dan Steininger, president and founder of BizStarts.
“Our executive director, Pat Snyder, asked if we could get a location where our entrepreneurs could sell their products, and he applied for grants from the state and some foundations to make this happen,” Steininger said.
The result is a space that BizStarts can use as both a training center for its mostly lower-income mentees, as well as a spot for those up-and-coming small business owners to get some free exposure for themselves and their work. About 20,000 vehicles drive past the location where the storefront is located each day, Steininger noted.
“Rather than hoping from one farmers' market to the next, the entrepreneurs have a wonderful central location where they can learn retail. We hope that the experience spurs folks to open their own store and beautify their community,” Snyder added.
Asha Sawyers, who owns Your Media Matters, expressed her appreciation for the opportunities that the marketplace will be provide.
“When a store opens for the purpose of providing shelf space for new and upcoming businesses, that is the definition of fighting the wealth gap with opportunity. I am grateful for this store,” Sawyers said.
BizStarts is still buying furniture for the marketplace and working on the lay out of the space but is eager to host a grand opening soon, Steininger said.