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Brittany Smith quickly learned how precious time and space are when she started running her own design and décor business while also working a full-time job.
Now she’s providing other small, independent business owners with both of those things with the Middle Ground. What started as a series of pop-up markets in the leadup to the holidays last year has since grown into a full-time, staffed retail space where local craftspeople and artisans can sell their products year-round without having to travel to various craft shows and markets.
“I had a problem. I needed somewhere to sell my stuff, so I kind of approached some other small businesses in the area that I knew did not have their own storefront and I asked them if I opened up a space would this be of interest, and they said ‘absolutely,’” said Smith, 31, of Sydney, who officially opened the Middle Ground on the second floor of the Prince Street Market, above Doktor Luke’s coffee shop, in October.
Now her inspirational wooden signs share the space with handmade knits, thrifted home décor, jewelry, homemade hair accessories, environmentally friendly clothing and a variety of other products from 13 other local businesses.
Here are the 13 businesses currently renting space within the Middle Ground:
- Day by Day Designs
- The Preloved Look
- Willow and Twig
- Sunlit Valley
- Quaint and Curated
- North Atlantic Outerwear
- Cat Morrison Handmade
- Home in the East
- Jac-out-of-the-box Jewelry
- Far East Creations
- Oban Lodge
- Sugar Pie Honey Scrunchie
- NS Spirit Co.
The shop is open Tuesday to Friday from 12-5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10-3 p.m.
Smith said the Middle Ground is a non-profit that was set up to encourage and support small business growth by fostering a community of like-minded people who value collaboration over competition. By sharing on rent and wages, the Middle Ground allows everyone to make their products more accessible without the risks or costs associated with opening their own brick-and-mortar storefront.
“The concept in here is that everyone is renting by the square footage, which covers the rent and it also covers the employee’s wage. So, we’re giving the business owners their time back — they don’t have to be here,” said Smith, whose father Bob and brother Spencer have joined her at Day by Day Designs since she opened the business two years ago.
One thing that drew Smith to the Prince Street location is her floormates, photographers Sherri Poirier and Brittany MacLeod, videographer Jourdan MacNeil and YouTube star Susie Hardy, whose four businesses make up the Creatives Loft.
Smith is teaming up with her new neighbours to host the Magical Maker Market on Saturday, Dec. 7 from 10 a.m.- 6 pm and Sunday, Dec. 8 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. More than 20 local makers and indie businesses have already signed on to join them for the one-stop shopping event at 54 Prince St.
Smith said they intend to collaborate regularly and are already discussing ideas for future workshops.
“We have a lot of creative people at our fingertips here so we’re looking at innovative ways to tap into the market and give people a night out, so we’re doing some centrepiece workshops in December,” she said. “This building is the perfect fit for us. The ambience and just the energy in this building, we’re among a lot of like-minded people and when you put those people together it seems that things are just unlimited.”