Chandler Collective Market helps 46 small businesses

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By Srianthi Perera, Donor

Chandler resident Raina Dodge began honing her entrepreneurial skills when she ran a lemonade stand at age 5.

Now, as owner of The Collective Market, a curated boutique with local, artisanal and handmade products at the Chandler Fashion Center, Dodge is helping 46 small businesses as well as his own get much-needed exposure.

The collective market sells crochet and macrame with a modern twist; wooden creations such as flags and yard games like cornhole and yard Yahtzee; seasonal decorative items, soaps, candles, silk plants, blankets, feminine touch heavy metals fashioned into signs, key chains and bookends, and children’s items.

Dodge also sells its own products – affordable quality baby blankets and loveies, as well as hair bows and headbands.

The inventory rotates every few weeks.

“The driving factor behind The Collective Market was my heart’s desire to help other small businesses (like mine) amplify their presence (and sales) by providing them with a place to display and sell their products,” said said Dodge, a mother of three who graduated summa cum laude from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Science in Commerce.

A year ago, when she was looking for a space to establish her boutique, the first place she looked at and chose was the Chandler Fashion Center.

She created the concept, developed a business plan, executed contracts and opened the doors to a pop-up market in November.

“We received such a positive response over the holidays that we decided to stay open,” she said. “We recently doubled our space providing more opportunities to sellsleep.

At first, The Collective occupied 1,700 square feet of retail space. Now, after renovations, it spans nearly 4,000 square feet.

The generous space allowed the company to add DIY workshops and a course roster.

Dodge is buoyed by last year’s progress.

“Everyone’s definition of success is different,” she said. “Some people say that just opening a business is an achievement. I’m so excited about how far I’ve come in such a short time.”

Dodge felt it had more to do to increase brand awareness.

“As soon as I walked into our space, I knew it could be better. After the renovation, my vision is now a reality. I’m working hard to make it an amazing space for our customers and the small business community” , she said.

Amy Weber of San Tan Valley is one of the small businesses exhibiting and selling work at The Collective. Weber creates jewelry, unique pieces with a certain flair, and named his small business Salt & Sass.

“My business was born when I was browsing through my mother’s jewelry, after she passed away, looking for something I could turn into an everyday piece for myself. Something I could look at and just feel it. at that time,” Weber said.

The idea caught on and soon she was selling to her friends and at farmers markets.

Weber enjoys selling at The Collective.

“It’s a fun, upbeat atmosphere, and it’s new every time I’m there,” she said. “Vendors are constantly bringing in new and special items. Interacting with customers is great fun.

Dodge said it had two main goals with the store.

The first is to create an environment for small businesses to connect with the local Chandler community by providing space for them to sell their products.

The second is to allow small businesses to connect with each other.

“Sometimes, as a small business, it feels like you’re on an island. I wanted to bring people together so they could share ideas, help each other, truly create friendships that will last,” she said.

“Women seem to band together when they come together and work towards a common goal. There is strength in numbers. Yes, we have that at The Collective.

When asked if she felt the competition from the various art markets in the East Valley, Dodge replied in the negative.

“My goal has always been to support local artisans. We provide a fun and creative environment where our partner companies can connect with our customers,” she said.

She plans special events – an Oktoberfest and a Winter Wonderland – to give other small businesses who are not currently sellers in the store the opportunity to connect with the community.

Dodge employs a few part-timers, but its core staff are small business owners. All 46 – two men and 44 women – work shifts.

“I think it’s important to work the store, not just sell there. I think it helps them stay in touch with customers and our community. They can see why a customer is buying something, what their motivation and desire is,” she said.

What are the challenges of running this store?

“I’m never really ‘off’! People are my number one priority. I always make myself available to small businesses in my store. Since we’re at the mall, we’re open seven days a week. If anyone gets sick, I absolutely have to cover — whatever my plans are,” she said.

In addition, it is difficult to balance the store with his family. She has an understanding husband, Jason, and three young children, and everyone’s needs must be met.

Weber said she was happy with her involvement with the store. “The store is very busy,” she said.

Customers are the best marketing tool.

“They tell their friends, or share on social media about the amazing artists we have in the store, which encourages more wonderful people to visit us in the mall,” she said.

The best things about being part of the group? “I love the connection with my fellow small business owners and the sense of community the store brings,” Weber said.

The Collective Market is located at 3111 W. Chandler Blvd., at the Chandler Fashion Center, across from Pottery Barn.

An Octoberfest, featuring 50 local small businesses, takes place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on October 28 and 29 at the Chandler Fashion Center in the indoor area.

Details: shopthecollectiveaz.com

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