Emporium fosters new businesses
An emporium is a store that sells a variety of goods.
For Sam Glaberman, the Union Square Emporium is a place where small business and local industry grow.
Glaberman is the owner of the new Union Square Emporium, which is set to open Friday after being closed for eight years.
"If you like in Hickory, and you spend money in Hickory, it stays here," Glaberman said. "We're providing an incubator space for people to start their own businesses."
The emporium, located at 16 Second St. SW in Hickory, has about 60 booths filled to the brim with everything from homemade soaps and tiny trinkets to upholstered furniture and photography. About 95 percent of everything sold in the store is from local vendors.
"It's buy local; sell local; support local," Glaberman said.
To encourage vendors to rent space in the emporium, Glaberman reduced the emporium's 10-year-old rent prices by 10 percent, and he did away with the 10 percent commission the store previously charged its tenants.
"The idea is, you make the money, you put it in your pocket," he said.
Glaberman, a New York native who resides in Mooresville, heard from a friend about the opportunity to purchase the building and open the emporium.
"It made business sense," he said of the decision to open the emporium. "We're restoring an old building, and we're adding to the downtown."
Vendors can rent booths in the building, and they decorate and furnish the booths based on their individual merchandise.
"We encourage them to come in and paint and really personalize it," said Susan Sterling, Union Square Emporium manager.
Susan Guest, of Hickory, is one of the vendors who signed on to rent a space in the emporium, but this isn't Guest's first business venture in the building.
She rented a space 10 years ago in the old emporium.
"It was so much fun, and I sold a lot," Guest said.
Guest's business, Guest Interiors, sells needle-point items, original oil paintings, accessories and other gift items.
"I heard good things about Sam (Glaberman), so I decided to do it again," she said.
Glaberman said emporium vendors range in age and business experience, from the seasoned salesman to the novice. Many of Glaberman's renters are just starting their business ventures and couldn't afford to pay the rent of a free-standing retail store.
"Our hope is that after six months, they do so well that they buy another space (in the emporium), or they open up their own store downtown," Glaberman said.
The emporium also has a supermarket in the back of the building, which sells health food and other goods.
"I treat this store like a shopping center, and you have to anchor a shopping center with good merchandise," Glaberman said.
To encourage shoppers to see everything the Union Square Emporium has to offer, Glaberman, Sterling and the store's vendors are holding an opening celebration 9 a.m. to noon Friday, complete with hourly giveaways, free health food samples and entertainment from the Hickory High School band and Lenoir-Rhyne University cheerleaders.
"I want thousands (to come)," Glaberman said. "I want this to be a very special event for Hickory."