Mom-and-pop shop at the mall? How Garden State Plaza aims to help small businesses

In an effort to help and increase the visibility of local small businesses – especially minority and women-owned ones – Westfield Garden State Plaza is launching an initiative that will give them the opportunity to showcase their products and services to alongside some of the country’s most recognized brands.

The initiative, launched with the New Jersey Small Business Development Center at Ramapo College, will offer mom-and-pop retailers something that has been previously unattainable: retail space in one of the world’s busiest malls. popular in the country.

The Westfield Garden State Plaza shopping center in Paramus.

Chris Neidhardt, leasing manager of Westfield Garden State Plaza, said the value of such an opportunity is multifaceted, with the mall providing exposure to continuous foot traffic, ample parking, internal security and ready available inventory. to move in.

And that at a reduced cost.

“Special lease terms, such as a 3-month lease versus the typical 10-15 years that large retailers typically commit to, are just some of the big benefits for small businesses,” he said. declared. “Our goal for the program is to raise awareness for family businesses and additionally to shine a light on women and minority owned businesses.

“The way we see it is like bringing Main Street to the main stage.”

Vincent Vicari, regional director of the New Jersey Small Business Development Center at Ramapo College, said it was a win-win scenario.

“We may be two separate entities, but our shared vision of seeing entrepreneurial businesses thrive and prosper is what led us to join forces,” he said. “A key objective of the partnership is to mentor these businesses until they can sign longer leases if their viability and profitability allow.”

Chic Sugars shop at the mall.

Program participants will receive the valuable support that the Small Business Development Center can provide, including assistance with strategic marketing, developing and executing a solid business plan, and advice regarding funding available.

Chic Sugars, known for its star-studded cake creations with celebrity clients like Jay-Z, Missy Elliott and Nicki Minaj, was the first to jump at the chance. It is currently open.

Owner Erika Oldham, who recently appeared on Food Network’s “Winner Cake All,” said the display was excellent.

“I look forward to expanding my customer base beyond my storefront bakery in Englewood, while diversifying my product offerings into smaller items that mall shoppers can enjoy on the go,” she said.

Tonnie Rozier of Tonnie’s Minis.

Tonnie’s Minis, a unique bakery concept that offers customers the ability to first select a cupcake flavor and then customize the final product by choosing from a range of frosting and topping options, will open in May.

Owner Tonnie Rozier, who has locations in Newark and Edgewater, said he jumped at the chance.

“This is a sign of positive growth for me and my brand, as it not only signals a second location, but also an expanded demographic that will be exposed to my signature cupcakes,” he said.

Tiffany Ramirez, marketing manager at Westfield Garden State Plaza, said the opportunities for small businesses are immense.

“For many small businesses, this is an opportunity to turn a lifelong dream into reality, launching a concept or expanding an existing one alongside the biggest names in retail,” said- she declared. “We hope this program can be successfully replicated in other Westfield centers across the country.”