By Kelsey Ward
The new College Park City Hall is well on its way to being open for business. One of the first steps to completion is finding retailers to fill four spaces on the first floor of the building.
On Oct.12, the city council unanimously approved the use of funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to support the opening of Shop Made in Maryland, the first business to hold a retail spot in the new building. The one-time grant approved by council will be used to help Shop Made in Maryland build out the retail space before moving in. Occupants of the other three retail spaces have not yet been announced.
Shop Made in Maryland is a sister of Shop Made in D.C., a group of stores that sell products made exclusively by artists and makers in the District.
“The retail world is not an easy world to find unique retailers. Our team knew we needed to find something that captured and reflected our shared values, and demonstrated an exciting vision of the City of College Park,” said Ken Ulman, president of Margrave Strategies, a consulting firm based in Columbia. Ulman is responsible for finding retailers to fill the city hall spaces.
This first Shop Made in Maryland store will feature products from artisans throughout the state, and with a particular focus on Prince George’s County and College Park. Shop Made aims to support artists and makers by giving them space to show their work and the opportunity to build a customer base. Shop Made splits revenue evenly with vendors, and the company pays income taxes and fees, allowing vendors to fully profit from their sales.
“We like to label ourselves as a modern retail incubator. We provide a place to showcase talent … We provide business assistance so they can become more profitable in what they are doing, from packaging to pricing and all the other things,” said Stacey Price, co-founder and CEO of Shop Made in D.C.
Price, along with co-founder Michael Babin, opened the first Shop Made in D.C. in 2017. There are now three main Shop Made in D.C. stores; the are in Georgetown, at The Wharf, in Southwest D.C., and at Union Market. Three smaller shops are at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, The Roost, a food hall in Southeast Washington, and the Canopy by Hilton Washington, at Embassy Row. The stores offer some 5,000 products crafted by more than 200 local artisans. And College Park’s store is not the first affiliate; Shop Made In Virginia, is set to open in Alexandria in November 2021.
Price said it will take six months to curate products for the new store. The D.C. stores have a waitlist of makers and artists, many of whom are from Maryland.
“We are super excited to be able to provide them some sort of access to the market,” said Price.
Shop Made in D.C. sponsors classes and seminars with an entrepreneurial focus for their vendors. They also host workshops for customers, and the College Park location will offer a lively roster of activities to the community. And like the first D.C. location, College Park’s Shop Made will have a coffee bar, thanks to partnership with Cameo Coffee.
“One of the main things that we realized was essential to who we are from a mission standpoint was that cafe. The cafe in our original establishment helped us create community,” said Price.
The area immediately around the new city hall is evolving quickly. Construction on the outdoor public plaza wrapped in October, and Ledo’s, on Knox Road, right across the street from the new city hall, reopened in late September under new ownership.
“It [the public plaza] will be a gathering point that when people think about College Park, they will think of that public space and the events they’ve attended there,” said Mayor Patrick Wojahn in an election forum hosted by the Here & Now in October.
Construction of the new city hall started in February 2020, and the building is set to open late this year.