K.C. Peck said he and his wife, Aimee Conklin, need to go furniture shopping. The owners of Emporium Market have temporary displays in their Nittany Mall space because they never expected to be permanent or to have so many products.
Both have been a pleasant surprise for the State College couple, who opened the pop-up shop featuring all-local products in October.
“At that point we were just thinking it would be a holiday market,” Peck said. “Then things just started to snowball.”
They recently signed a yearlong lease for the 2,800-square-foot space, which is located across from Bon-Ton. The shop now includes products from more than 50 local vendors — everything from hats and scarves to food products, jewelry, beauty products and kid’s clothes. It works on consignment — the maker retains ownership of the product, and Emporium Market keeps a percentage of the selling price.
Peck said the idea started as a way for he and Conklin to sell their own handmade wooden jewelry and gifts. Previously, their business had been primarily online.
“We knew that we’d like to participate in something like this, and we had the sense that other people were looking for a solid, staple place,” Peck said.
The first vendors — the shop started with six — were friends or friends of friends. That’s how Bethany Carter, who co-owns the Bellefonte soap-making company BelleNaturals with Heather Emminger, said they started selling items in the shop.
“We’re excited to be participating,” Carter said. “As a small local business, we can appreciate what K.C. and his wife are doing.”
BelleNaturals has an online presence and sells products at the seasonal North Atherton Farmers Market, but Carter said the presence in Emporium Market is responsible for a big uptick in sales over the holiday season.
“Having something like a storefront has been really helpful for us,” Carter said. “It’s also been really convenient. We can just drop-off our products and it frees up time to develop more products.”
Other vendors have come on board mostly through word of month, Peck said. The artisans are mostly from the Centre Region, with some food products from Johnstown and Altoona.
“We’re looking for unique stuff that you can’t find anywhere else,” Peck said.
Now that the holiday season is over, Peck said there’s a steady group of loyal, returning customers, and those who bought holiday gifts and are now returning for themselves. The market is a one-stop shop for local products, a convenient way to grab Village Eatinghouse dressings, for example, or wares usually only seen in person a few times a year.
“It’s a lot of Pop Up Ave people, People’s Choice (Festival) people,” Peck said.
Emporium Market still has room for new vendors, and Peck said he’s looking forward to the future.
“I think it’s going to continue to grow and we’re going to continue to follow it wherever it leads us,” he said.