By Srianti Pereira, Contributor
Chandler resident Raina Dodge started honing her entrepreneurial skills by running a lemonade stand at the age of 5.
Now, as the owner of The Collective Market, which carries local, artisanal and artisanal products at the Chandler Fashion Center, Dodge has helped 46 small businesses, as well as her own, gain much-needed exposure.
The collective market sells contemporary crochet and lace; woodwork creations like flags and backyard games like cornhole and yard Yahtzee; seasonal decorations, soaps, candles, silk plants, blankets, signs made of heavy metal with a feminine touch, Key chains and bookends, and children’s items.
Dodge also sells her own products – high-quality baby blankets and baby sleeping bags at affordable prices, as well as bows and headbands.
Inventory rotates every few weeks.
“The driving factor behind the collective market is my inner desire to expand their small business presence (and sales) by giving other small businesses (like mine) a place to display and sell their merchandise,” said Dodge, mother of three , she graduated summa cum laude from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business.
When she was looking for a space to open a store a year ago, the first place she looked and chose was the Chandler Fashion Center.
She created the concept, developed the business plan, executed the contract, and opened the doors to a pop-up market in November.
“We’ve had such a huge positive response during the holiday season that we’ve decided to stay open,” she said. “We recently doubled our space for the text.Thirsty.
Initially, The Collective occupied 1,700 square feet of retail space. Now, renovated, it occupies nearly 4,000 square feet.
The generous space allows businesses to grow their roster of do-it-yourself workshops and courses.
Dodge is encouraged by last year’s progress.
“Everyone’s definition of success is different,” she said. “It’s been said that starting a business is a success. I’m very excited about what we’ve achieved in a short period of time.”
Dodge felt she needed to do more to increase brand awareness.
“As soon as I walked into our space, I knew it could be better. After the remodel, my vision is now a reality. I am working hard to create an amazing space for our clients and the small business community,” she said .
Amy Weber of San Tan Valley is one of The Collective’s small businesses exhibiting and selling work. Webb creates jewelry, one-of-a-kind jewelry, with a definite flair, and named her small business Salt & Sass.
“My business started when I was examining my mother’s jewelry, and after she passed away, I was looking for things that I could make for myself into everyday items. I could see and feel her things in that moment,” Weber said .
The idea caught on, and soon she was selling at her friends and farmers markets.
Webb likes to sell at The Collective.
“It’s a fun and upbeat vibe and it’s new every time I’m there,” she said. “Vendors keep coming out with new and special items. It’s a lot of fun interacting with customers.”
Dodge said she has two main goals with the store.
The first is to create an environment for small businesses to connect with the local Chandler community, giving them a space to sell their merchandise.
The second is to enable small businesses to connect with each other.
“Sometimes, as a small business, you can feel like you’re on an island. I want to bring people together so they can exchange ideas and help each other and really build lasting friendships,” she said.
“When women come together and work toward a common goal, they seem to come together. There is power in numbers. Yes, we do at The Collective.”
When asked if he felt competition from the various art markets in the East Valley, Dodge said no.
“My goal has always been to support local artisans. We provide a fun and creative environment where our partner businesses can connect with our clients,” she said.
she’s planning a special event – Oktoberfest and Winter Wonderland – Provide opportunities for other small businesses that are not currently in-store vendors to connect with the community.
Dodge employs several part-timers, but her main employees are small business owners. All 46 people – two men and 44 women – work in shifts.
“I think it’s important to work in the store, not just sell there. I believe it helps keep them connected to customers and our community. They can see why customers are buying, what their motivations and desires are what,” she said.
What were the challenges of running the store?
“I’ve never really been “closed”! People are my number one priority. I always allow myself to serve the small businesses in my store. Since we’re in the mall, we’re open 7 days a week. If anyone gets sick, I absolutely It has to be covered – no matter what my plan is,” she said.
Also, balancing the store with her family was tricky. She has an understanding husband Jason and three young children whose needs must be met.
Webb said she was delighted to be involved with the store. “The store is super busy,” she said.
Customers are the best marketing tool.
“They tell their friends, or share The amazing artists we have in store are featured on social media, attracting more great people to visit us at the mall,” she said.
What’s the best thing about being part of a team? “I love the connection with other small business owners and the sense of community that the store brings,” Weber said.
The Collective Market is located at 3111 W. Chandler Blvd., in the Chandler Fashion Center, across from Pottery Barn.
October 28-29, October 28-29 at the Chandler Fashion Center in the coverage area, featuring 50 local small businesses.