Batavia Boardwalk Shops helps businesses grow and bring shoppers downtown

Weekends in Batavia have taken on a whole new hiding place over the past three summer/autumn seasons, thanks to Batavia Main Street’s new Boardwalk smart stores, of which the Gerald Auto Group is the title sponsor.

Modeled after a similar initiative in Muskegon, Michigan, the newly built 12-by-12-foot air-conditioned incubator retail stores on Route 25 and Wilson Street (formerly a lightly-used parking lot) are a city initiative intended to give businesses retail a boost from the home-based business stage to the brick-and-mortar business stage.

“Batavia needed more retail stores in its downtown area and the city felt that incubator stores like these were a great way to encourage new businesses to make the move into a permanent space and create “draw people to downtown Batavia. They’re also perfectly located near the weekly Saturday morning farmer’s market,” explained Beth Walker, executive director of Batavia Main Street.

Eight stores were built by volunteers, including local high school trades class students, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and a year later two more were added. Funding came from a city economic vitality grant and a Main Street fundraiser.

Applications for spaces are taken each year from December 1 to January 31 and reviewed by a 15-person jury who decide who will be awarded the spaces for the coming year. Once winners are chosen, tenants meet once a month with business instructors to learn the intricacies of marketing and more.

This year’s tenants are Arlo Hendrix Baby Outfitters, Charcuterie Studio, Dirty Clay & Co. (pottery), Earth Knots (macram), Fox Valley Gallery of Wood, Hazelry (women’s clothing and jewelry), Magnolia Soap & Bath Co. , The Candy Stop, Wild West Baked Goods and Wonder and Wander (toy store). They will do business from the Boardwalk Shops until December 18.

“The Boardwalk Shops provided us with a great opportunity to gain community support and awareness of our store, Light & Pine Collective,” recalled Suzanne Ray, co-owner of one of the original Boardwalk Shops. “Our time at Boardwalk Shops allowed us to grow our business and move to our permanent location at Wilson Street Mercantile in Batavia.”

“The Gerald Auto Group is honored to be able to help support this incredible opportunity for local entrepreneurs. Batavia Mainstreet’s focus on small business growth is such a special gem in our local community,” said Donna Lawler, vice-president of Gerald Auto. Band. “We look forward to celebrating the successes of the Boardwalk Shop businesses featured this year.”

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