COhatch's vendor space features rotating mix of local entrepreneurs

When COhatch The Martket first opened in Downtown Springfield last summer, the storefront space included among the restaurants in the food hall was not planned to be what it has now become.

“It was going to be an office space, and we thought of maybe an insurance company or a credit union, maybe,” says Pat Williams, who serves as COhatch Springfield’s general manager and operating partner, along with his wife Nancy.

However, as the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up, Williams saw a different need emerging for the space.

“I met the owners of Keener & Schultz (Fine Woodworks), and they shared with me about their business model and shared how most all of their business comes from shows they do around the country,” Williams says. “But all their shows were shut down from COVID-19.

“They needed the help, and we realized we had the space to help.”

Keener & Schultz was the first local business to move into the retail space. They set up a display of some of their handmade wood furniture items that visitors to COhatch were able to touch, sit on, and pick up information about ordering for themselves.

“It worked out well for them, and when they decided to move out, Flourish came in with their concept,” Williams says. “We realized instead of having anyone there long-term, we would have several different businesses shift through the space.”

Flourish – a local farm-to-table florist that focuses on local, sustainable products – opened Oxygen Bar – Inspired by Flourish. The shop featured a rotating variety of succulents and indoor plants to offer some options of indoor greenery for the winter months.

The Oxygen Bar pop-up was unique because its products were sold by use of QR code rather than having the store manned by a sales person throughout the day.

Recently, the Oxygen Bar moved out of the space, which is now getting set up for a new tenant – The Paper Moon & Company, owned by Corie White.

“I think it’s evolved into a place where we can showcase, on a rotating basis, all of the retail talent in Springfield and Clark County,” Williams says. “It’s not a space for just one individual. People can count on a new retailor every 90 to 120 days."

White is finishing up displays, a counter and moving her products into the shop space, and she’s excited for the opportunity.

Since 2019, White has sold handmade jewelry that she designs from her home in Springfield.

Originally from Michigan, White studied to become a fine artist. She met husband Rick, originally from Springfield, who was an Major League Baseball player for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

White says because of her husband’s job, she traveled a lot and had the opportunity to shop in a variety of boutique stores in cities like New York and Chicago.

Though she spent years working creating freelance paintings, she decided she really wanted to shift her focus to a specific product – and her love of jewelry led her to open The Paper Moon & Company.

“I want to design it and make it from head to toe,” White says. “I want it to be unique and hand-done.”

White says she has dreams of opening a kind of boutique in Springfield like the ones she saw while traveling in other cities.

Currently, White creates and takes orders for pickup at the small shop she built behind her home, and she has some items for sale at Sugar Shelf Boutique in New Carlisle.

And, in 2020, she started selling her jewelry at the Springfield Farmer’s Market.

“It was amazing to get to meet people and grow because of that,” she says.

She also sold at the holiday market at COhatch in December. The events were what led to the opportunity to set up shop in COhatch The Market’s rotating vendor space.

“It’s exciting for me because it’s small but perfect,” White says. “I’m trying to take the right steps. This is just a wonderful stop to come for my business.”

In addition to her modern prairie-style jewelry, White makes candles and other home décor and vases, as well as artwork, that will be featured in the COhatch shop.

An employee will run the sales counter, and White plans to officially open the pop-up shop the last weekend in January.

“I’m hoping to show people some excitement. I want people to come in and shop and enjoy the atmosphere and the feel and to see some unique things,” she says. “You can design the space and make it your own, and it’s a great opportunity to meet the public, show them your product, and grow.

“It’s an amazing space in an amazing location.”

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Read more articles by Natalie Driscoll.