On March 25 from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm the Blue Ridge Business Development Center (BDC) will host a “pop-up” market for direct sales vendors. 25 representatives will offer a variety of products at this event. To limit the duplication of products, the event has only accepted one representative per product line. These representatives are primarily home-based entrepreneurs that normally connect with their customers through parties or small events without the benefit of a traditional store front. A recent method of supplementing that model is having the businesses “pop-up” at a location for a short period of time.
According to Dale Caveny, director of the BDC, the purpose of this event is threefold. First, this will offer a physical location for customers to access a wide range of items. There will be products familiar to many such as Mary Kay, Avon and Tupperware. These will be joined by a variety of other skin care products, clothing such as LulaRoe, jewelry, handbags and accessories, children’s books, candles, and nutritional supplements. A representative from Damsel in Defense will be offering basic personal defense items designed for women. The Alleghany County Farmers Market will also have locally grown items for sale. The Farmers’ Market is using this event as a means of spreading the word about the products offered each Saturday throughout the summer.
Second, this event is an opportunity for those interested in exploring business opportunities to connect with a product vendor. New representatives usually sign up with an experienced vendor who serves as a mentor for the new entrepreneur. Caveny points out that many of these direct sales ventures can be quite profitable for the representatives. And experience gained from these businesses often serves as a catalyst for other business opportunities.
Finally, Laurie Brintle-Jarvis, director of the Small Business Center of Wilkes Community College, will be on hand to talk with established and prospective vendors. The Small Business Center offers a multitude of classes for small business owners and entrepreneurs. Those classes range from how to best market a business to accounting procedures. Brintle-Jarvis also provides individual, confidential counseling for business owners.
This event is an opportunity for the BDC to explore new ways of supporting small business networks. “In many ways these direct sales representatives provide a model for how business has to be carried out in a small community,” said Caveny. “Each vendor has a customer network that they develop and grow. Social media increasingly plays a role in maintaining those relationships. At this event, we will bring those 25 networks of customers together for four hours. That networking model is key to the success of all business in our community.”
“Many of the vendors and customers at this event will be from out of the county,” Caveny continued. “It is our desire that this experience will introduce a new group of people to Alleghany County and that they take advantage of the dining and shopping opportunities after they leave our event.”
For more information on things to see and do in Alleghany County, visit the Alleghany County Chamber of Commerce here.