St Albans shop showcasing small independents by renting out shelves

Emma and Gracie Bustamante are the driving force behind The Small Biz Collection in St Albans.

Emma and Gracie Bustamante are the driving force behind The Small Biz Collection in St Albans. - Credit: The Small Biz Collection

A mother and daughter team are offering small online businesses a venue to showcase their products for a real-life audience.

The Small Biz Collection, located in High Street at the front of The Village Arcade, rents out shelf space to independent brands looking for a way to reach a wider audience.

The venture has already proved a sell-out success, with more than 20 brands currently stocked in the shop, and a waiting list of excited entrepreneurs looking to join in. Products include jewellery, candles, clothing, children’s clothes and decor, trinkets, faux flowers, handbags, artwork, cards and much more. 

The Small Biz Collection

The Small Biz Collection - Credit: Matt Adams

Emma Bustamante, who owns Cositas in Holywell Hill, said she recognised a common thread from her experience in stocking and making products and running creative workshops for small enterprises.

She explained: "To stock any of these small businesses we were really having to squeeze our margins and to be perfectly honest in this post-Covid climate that’s not something I’ve been able to do.

"This way we’re able to offer small businesses the chance to retail directly to their customer with a low risk and minimum investment financially and in terms of staffing. From a different perspective, it’s been really interesting for me to explore other ways to retail, and this time no website, just good old fashioned shop sales - with a little bit of Instagram!"

Inside The Small Biz Collection in St Albans.

Inside The Small Biz Collection. - Credit: The Small Biz Collection

Her daughter Gracie launched her online crystal business, Rock Goddess Crystals, during lockdown two years ago: “I’m really lucky to be stocked in Cositas, that’s definitely a perk of having a mum with a shop!

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"Having a small online business myself, I truly believe that The Small Biz Collection is an amazing opportunity for businesses like mine, who want to sell in a bricks and mortar premises to reach a new audience, without the crazy costs and without having to spend your own time manning the shop. I’m sure all the small businesses that we’re working with now find these factors very appealing too. It’s so amazing for lots of small businesses to rally together and support each other under one roof.”

The Small Biz Collection

The Small Biz Collection - Credit: Matt Adams

Claire Morris, a local retail expert and founder of consultancy Retail With Clarity, said: "Emma and Gracie are creating a fantastic opportunity for both independent businesses and the local community - it's such a smart way to bridge the gap between selling online and in a physical store; and for shoppers in St Albans who can browse and purchase from independent brands that they may otherwise not have come across. I'm looking forward to seeing lots of our local brands featured in the shop and the success they can go on to create with the learnings they gain from the in-store experience."

Emma added: "I think at a time where we try to be mindful of where we shop, slow retailing from small, independent businesses and supporting the local economy is something that the people of St Albans will really want to get behind."