The Hub Opens Pop-Up Storefront to Feature Local and Student Businesses

The Hub — a coworking space and incubator located in downtown Hamilton — now also offers a pop-up retail storefront that features local and student-run businesses. Located at 20 Utica St., the Hub is a partnership between Hamilton’s active economic development agency called the Partnership for Community Development and Colgate’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Director of the Hub Melissa Davis is a certified business advisor. She commented on the goals of the space.

“The point [of the Hub] is to create an incubator space for small businesses to have a place to come and work on their start-up businesses, or for existing businesses to take the next steps of growth,” Davis said. “There is a lot of mentorship and advising that takes place to get businesses to the next level.”

The Hub helps businesses launch through various programming, including loan preparation, marketing research, business planning and development, government contracting, and certifications like a Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises Certification (MWBE). Offering one-on-one business advising and larger workshops, the Hub works with local businesses for a low fee, and Colgate students can utilize its advising programming for free.

“We have about four to five Colgate student businesses we are working with right now. It is really cool to see where they are going with it and where the businesses are taking them,” Davis said.

Carolyn Strobel-Larsen, Colgate’s director of entrepreneurship and innovation, encouraged students to utilize the space and its resources.

“Any business that is at the point where they have a product or service they want to get out to the market, that is when they would start to work with [Davis] to make that happen,” Strobel-Larsen said. “She is a certified business advisor and can help them figure out how to grow their business, what they need to have in place, like insurance and taxes, as well as their business plan and funding approach.”

The back part of the Hub’s space is used for meetings and advising; however, the front part is now a pop-up storefront for local businesses.

“We have a ‘pop-up’ space. It is rented until the end of the month by a local business who wanted to test out what it is like to have a retail shop. It is very inexpensive to rent the space and test out retail life. If they like it, hopefully they get a brick & mortar somewhere, and if they hate it, they only had to put a minimal amount of money into it,” Davis said. “Right now, we charge $250 a month for the [pop-up] space. Most places are $1000 or more to rent. This is where you can practice using a space and figure out the kinks in your business and retail life before committing. It is also fun for the community because it isn’t the same business all the time.”

Senior Cameron Stokes runs the student business Hami-Down ‘Gate — a clothing resale platform — with senior Leigh Frankel. Stokes and Frankel have used the Hub’s space to host sales for their business.

“I think that the new venture in the Hub will be really beneficial for student ventures to display their product and gain a wider audience. It will also be really useful to have a convenient space for groups to meet in person and collaborate on projects,” Stokes said. ”In the past, [Frankel and I] used the space to host an in-person sale with other student initiatives. It is a great space for the community to gather in and interact with local or other student businesses.”

Senior Sarah Shelton is excited by the introduction of the pop-up shop at the Hub.

“I think anytime students can interact with people in town, especially small business owners, is a great opportunity,” Shelton said. “They are so kind and knowledgeable, so I am excited. I think it’s fun to have alternating businesses in Hamilton because it is a small town.”

The vendor for March will be a local flower producer from Morrisville, N.Y., who will also sell pottery and soaps. For the month of April, the Office of Entrepreneurship’s Thought Into Action program (TIA) is renting the space for student businesses.

“The reason we booked it for the month of April is because it coincides with the TIA showcase in the Hall of Presidents, which happens on Saturday, April 15. By having the space all month, we are having that downtown presence in addition to our event here on campus,” Strobel-Larsen said.

Strobel-Larsen hopes students will visit and engage with these “pop-up” shops.

“I’d like students to know that the Hub is a really neat opportunity to visit local businesses that don’t have permanent storefronts. It’s a really neat rotating space, and every month there is going to be something new for students to discover,” Strobel-Larsen said. “In April, students should come down and learn about the products and services being developed by their fellow students as well as some of our successful alumni businesses that have come through TIA.”