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Necessity grows the shared space economy in Collingwood

In the case of two retail shops in Collingwood, two conundrums made one solution
Jacqueline Hughes, of Hughes Consignment, and Susan and Nicole Bishop of Bishop Botanicals outside their shared storefront in Collingwood.

Two Collingwood businesses facing shared hardships have solved some of their woes by finding common ground. 

Bishop Botanicals and Hughes Thrift & Consignment Store have started sharing a storefront, to minimize overhead costs. 

Bishop Botanicals was founded by mother-daughter duo Susan and Nicole Bishop with a mission to create plant-based beauty products that benefit the skin without compromising overall health. For over two years, the botanical beauty brand called 321 Hurontario St. home, where it grew to include various spa packages, yoga and dance classes, beauty-based events, tarot readings and other spiritual services. 

After COVID-19 was declared a pandemic last spring, Bishop Botanicals shifted back to solely being a beauty brand and spiritual shop.

“When the pandemic hit and we realized it wasn’t going anywhere, we were quick to trim the fat,” said Nicole. “We decided to just work with the hand we were dealt. What can we control? Where are we the happiest?”

No longer needing the large studio space at their current location, the mother-daughter duo weighed their options. One sunny day last summer, they closed the shop and took a stroll along Hurontario St. They popped into one of their local favourites, Hughes, and came out with so much more than a new outfit. 

Hughes has been a mainstay at 231 Hurontario St. for over five years. Jacqueline Hughes, owner of the small consignment shop, had recently begun reevaluating her business as well, and started toying with the idea of renting out the back half of her space. 

When Jacqueline first opened, she only had the front half of the store. Over the years, she expanded into the full space, but she realized she preferred to have a smaller, more curated selection. 

“I am extremely picky about what I take in,” she said. “I started thinking, do I really need this space? No. So why not make it available for someone else who could use it.”

After a brief and casual conversation that random sunny day, the three women quickly clicked, and an idea was born. 

“We were back and forth for a little, but it just felt right,” said Nicole. 

They realized consignment clothing and plant-based beauty products were quite complementary to each other and that they already shared similar values — and a similar client base — so why not share a storefront as well. 

“When something is meant to be it just sort of happens,” said Jacqueline. “We realized we really need to start supporting each other more. And be strategic… Think of ways to take some pressure off all of us right now and be more supportive.”

Hughes has returned to the front half of the shared space, and Bishop Botanicals now runs its business out of the back. 

And the result has been way better than any of them could have imagined. 

Both businesses already had a dedicated following, and they have been able to introduce their clients to each other’s businesses as well. The women also enjoy having each other in the space to work alongside, even though they remain as separate entities.

“It’s a win-win,” said Jacqueline. “I love coming to work and having them in the space, it’s a really good energy and it feels good to support each other.”

“Don’t get me wrong, I loved my mom’s company…” laughed Nicole. “But it’s nice to have the extra outlet and other people to work with.” 

The shared space success story offers a different take on how businesses can pivot even after the pandemic subsides. 

Coworking spaces such as the Collingwood Foundry offer desks for entrepreneurs who operate the majority of their businesses online, and storefronts like Maker’s Outpost offer artisans a shelf to sell their products. But for retail stores or other businesses that need a physical location in order to make products, neither of those are really an option. 

“I think it’s just about changing our mentality in terms of what businesses look like,” Nicole said. 

It’s no surprise that a number of businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic — small and independent businesses in particular. 

“But if your rent was cut in half… Would that make it a bit easier?” said Nicole. “Business is stressful as it is, so why add to it if you don’t have to. Overall it has been a really good experience for us, and I started thinking, this could be something that could really benefit other people as well.”

And stressing less about overhead costs has allowed both Nicole and Susan and Jacqueline to focus on the aspects of their businesses that they really love. 

“If people get creative with it, and are really adaptable, then hopefully it can take the pressure off more businesses, and maybe that’s part of what a post-pandemic world looks like,” Nicole said. “It’s about having that shared mentality… How can a community gather within spaces and support one another.”

Jacqueline agreed. 

“It really is an absolute win all around. I would encourage any business to do it, if it is a good fit,” she said.

Bishop Botanicals officially reopened its doors at the new location on Dec. 2. 

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Maddie Johnson

About the Author: Maddie Johnson

Maddie Johnson is an early career journalist working in financial, small business, adventure and lifestyle reporting. She studied Journalism at the University of King's College, and worked in Halifax, Malta and Costa Rica before settling in Collingwood
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