FLAGLER BEACH — Two local entrepreneurs have found a niche in the pint-sized world of dolls.
This and That Treasures, a shop that specializes in the popular American Girl dolls, has twice upgraded to larger spaces since it opened for business last summer.
It’s one of the first success stories for the Village Emporium, a business incubator that has been open for about two years. The emporium, on Flagler Avenue, allows new businesses to test their wings before they strike out on their own.
The inside of the emporium is a hodgepodge of offerings, from party supplies to jewelry.
The cost of retail space is one of the biggest barriers for new businesses, said Caryn Miller, the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency director.
But the emporium allows those “mom and pop shops” to start in a small space first.
That’s exactly what Brenda Brooks and Bonny Meyers, the owners of This and That Treasures, did. After just a month, the pair moved their shop to a 400-square-foot storefront on South Third Street. The business opened Wednesday in a 1,100-square-foot space next door to their old store.
Brooks, a former accountant, said she’d advise other small businesses to start in the emporium first.
“It’s a good indicator of whether or not there’s any kind of a market for it and take that leap,” Brooks said. “You’ll never know if you don’t try.”
This and That Treasures primarily sells American Girl dolls, as well as clothing, furniture and other accessories. Some of the products are the same as those offered in American Girl doll catalogs. But Brooks and Meyers also offer original handmade goods and the owners say those products are the most popular.
On the side, they offer doll repairs, as well as tea and birthday parties for girls. Brooks said she hopes those services will help sustain the business after the busy holiday season is over.
But success didn’t happen overnight. Brooks and Meyers started with a “shoestring budget” and worked for a year prior to their opening to save money and create enough products to sell.
To spread the word about their business, Brooks and Meyers participated in several community events, including the Creekside Festival and the Palm Coast Seafood Festival.
Their customers are sometimes their best form of advertising, they say. Often, they’ll take flyers and distribute them to friends and family, who in turn visit the store.
Running a business is hard work, the two say, with little time for rest. But for people with a passion, sharing it with others is worth the effort.
“I just love to see the girls’ faces when they get a new (doll),” Meyers said.