Younkers in Omaha is giving small community makers a big break.
In a small shop in Papillion, the squeaky clean brainchild of Lindsey Stephens is underway.
"We love the making process," she says.
Stephens started Feel Good Natural Products, the soap and natural product line in 2013. She focuses on being eco-friendly in some way/ She uses natural oils, reuses items like mason jars, or reduces her carbon footprint. This self made maker is like many, selling at markets and providing that individual attention.
Now her products are one the shelves of Younkers. Younkers' parent company, Bon-Ton Stores, is opening "Close to Home" shops in 100 or more stores this year. The retailer is also hosting a "Close to Home" Online Sourcing Fair. They're inviting local makers, artisans and entrepreneurs with established businesses or galleries to apply online to have their products included in a "Close to Home" shop. Submissions are being accepted through March 24.
More than 100 small local businesses from 16 cities across eight states were featured in the initial "Close to Home" launch. For many small businesses, the opportunity to sell products in a major department store provided significant growth for their business.
"I want myself and everyone involved in the process to always feel good about it," said Stephens. "So when a big company says we feel good about what you're doing, I'm like 'hell yeah!' Let's go harder."
The "Close to Home" initiative has been a boom to Bon-Ton as well. From September through December, "Close to Home" shop sales more than doubled company projections.