Two Madison merchants are finding that sharing a store space lowers their operating costs while providing greater flexibility to take time off and offering their customers a wider selection of products.
Toward the end of May, Creighton Hilstad, owner of , moved his merchandise from 89 Main Street, where he was located for two years, to 20 Waverly Place, where he now shares a store with Lauren Rossi, the owner of .
Cottage Charm has been there for about two years. The stores sell a variety of gifts and home products.
Hilstad said he found walking traffic patterns were changing in Madison with the bulk of walking traffic focused in the heart of downtown, and was looking to move.
Their combined location is smaller, but changes are planned for the overall look and feel of the store as they prepare to feature their fall product lines.
"This fall you'll see a new Cottage Charm with Creighton Edward, but we're not giving out too many details," they said in an email.
There was a lot of work involved in the move. First, making room in Cottage Charm for the Creighton Edward lines.
"Then, we had a really great sale at Creighton Edward to clear out the items we were not moving to the new space," Hilstad said. "The whole process took about two weeks."
They use different codes to ring up purchases depending on whose product is being bought, and find sharing a store provides greater flexibility with their schedules.
"We each have three days off a week and we have the ability now to take vacations and not close the store," they said in an email.
If there are negatives, they don't dwell on them.
"We work well together and both of us are very creative, we can handle anything," they said.
Their vendors tell them more merchants are sharing space around the country, and many businesses are finding that it works.
In their store, which they see as a modern day general store, they find their products "are meshing well" and customers often end up buying Cottage Charm and Creighton Edward products.
"The more choices the customer has the more time they will spend in the store," they said.