Community-Based Arts/Fair Trade/Local Products Retail Shop

Opportunity Snapshot

  • Country: USA USA
  • Industry: Retail Trade
  • Stage: Expansion/Growth
  • Investment size: $75,000 / min. $50,000

Investment Opportunity

Our store is part of what was once a large family-owned neighborhood department store that has served our community since 1926. We need funding to upgrade the interior, exterior, switch out old fixtures and bring in new merchandise.


This business plan will introduce Suite B, An Altadena Emporium. Boutiques are commonly focused on higher-end imported merchandise, but our retail concept will concentrate on and involve local and regional vendors and artists. This puts the emphasis on truly buying local, a rapidly growing trend in upscale and middle income markets alike.

Suite B will offer our target market sustainable and carefully curated products such as paintings, ceramics, jewellery, gifts, books, personal care, décor, accessories, pre-packaged gourmet food, gifts and stationery, all while reducing our carbon footprint. We will be a practical choice for local residents by carrying necessities (recyclable office essentials like printer paper and greeting cards) and by performing needed services (faxing, laminating, comb binding and UPS shipping). We will draw from the surrounding areas as well by functioning as a unique gift destination, where our ecological, ethical and social responsibilities, not to mention an excellent customer experience, will mesh with today’s sensibilities and demand for excellence.

Demographic studies indicate that the economic makeup of Altadena would support such a store. There is a large population of artists here and we have had positive feedback from the residents about such a venue and their need for a place to gather to enjoy the shopping experience.

This is the opportunity to develop a retail shop that will be the catalyst for further community involvement, particularly from our under-served artistic community. With the demise of the Gallery “At the End of the World”, there is no artistic venue in Altadena. With the closing of Webster’s Hallmark and Motif Gifts, there are no nearby upscale gift shops. We believe that Suite B will significantly contribute to the commerce, fellowship and ecological culture of the community.

Mission statement document is available for download by investors on Merar.

Competitive Advantage

As stated in the executive summary, there are no nearby gift shops and there are no shops around that would offer the type of merchandise that Suite B would. We could become a draw for the community and for the surrounding areas,

Altadena is home to a large community of artists, some known state-wide or nationally. Altadena is also a destination for excellent hiking and picnicking and is home to Bulgarini Gelato, named by the Wall Street Journal as one of only four places in the entire United States to get authentic gelato.

As a member of the Board of Directors of the Altadena Chamber of Commerce and of Altadena Heritage, we are currently working with the Los Angeles County Board of Regional Planning to address revitalization of our North Lake Avenue Business District and create a town centre near our store.

Rationale for the deal

There are established farmer's markets in the areas surrounding Altadena but there are none yet in Altadena proper. There has been a very successful Urban Farmer's Market locally, but is on hiatus, due to County regulation. We propose to work with many of this Market's vendors of locally produced gourmet food items, as well as working with established artists of many genres in a co-op type model. We will be and are currently carrying local and national vendors of books, jewellery, paper goods and stationery.

There are many shops existing and opening soon in the Los Angeles area that stress "local", "carefully edited" and "sustainable". They are billing themselves as "general stores" that have a local emphasis, emphasis on "lifestyle" and lots of emphasis on "art" and "community".

Many are combining "vintage finds" and are billing themselves as "throwbacks to another era". As 3rd generation proprietors, that's exactly what we are.

Use of financing

We need funding for the refurbishing of our interior and to purchase new fixtures. I'm not going to lie to you - our purchase of this store was to help the family's "main" business, a pharmacy and liquor store, survive.

The sale and ensuing four years have been acrimonious in the extreme - we need funding to re-brand and create a retail environment that reflects the community's evolving tastes. We also need funding to pay off debt accrued during this last year before we lose everything. We would also use funds to rework our website and offer e-commerce.

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