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Eclectic CO tests traditional store format as solution to cottage industry sales woes 

Shop Local

click to enlarge GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell

Peri Bolts loves shopping local and has a simple mission in mind for Eclectic CO, her new shop at 214 N. Tejon St.: make shopping for local craft goods as easy as shopping at any other retail store.

The former Starbucks manager, a self-described fan of supporting social impact businesses, got the idea to start Eclectic CO (shopeclecticco.com) at a pop-up event: Females of the Future, now called Womxn of the Future, founded by Stephanie Yu of Wilder Bag and Jenny Bazzetta of Bonbon Bombardier. Not a crafter herself, Bolts was impressed, and she wanted to know how these makers were doing business.

"The story from all of them was the same," she says. "They're bootstrapping it alone. They're selling out of their garage, online or in pop-up shops, and I just knew there had to be a better way."

While Eclectic CO is a pop-up, part of the Downtown Partnership's 2018 Downtown Holiday Pop Up Shops program, Bolts designed it to avoid any semblance of a booth-based pop-up or market event, intending to make it a permanent storefront after the holiday season. It functions with a traditional storefront — customers bring their purchases to one single point of sale and pay one person one time, no matter how many makers they're buying from. Each maker does still have their own section, denoted with a brief maker biography. But Bolts grouped makers by what they sell, like a department store: baby clothes with baby clothes, jewelry with jewelry and so on.

Bolts says she currently has 27 makers renting space from her, including Yu and Bazzetta. And while it's early in the holiday shopping season, Bolts says sales look promising.

"I think it's important people know where their goods are coming from," she says. "It's not just a product. You're supporting a person; you're supporting a cause."

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