San Jose businesswomen transforming former laundromat into indoor market for local vendors

 

A new kind of market will soon open up on the East Santa Clara Street corridor in San Jose. Urban Kiosk, set to open just two blocks east of San Jose’s city hall, is an indoor market that will house local vendors selling crafts, wares and goods.

The market plans to house vendors who wouldn’t be able to sell their products because of the high cost of retail shops in downtown San Jose.

The woman behind Urban Kiosk is Chris Patterson-Simmons, who currently owns Neu2u Thrift Boutique, also located on East Santa Clara Street.

Patterson-Simmons, who leased a 3,000-square-foot property that used to be a laundromat to fit about 15 business, says Urban Kiosk is an opportunity to build community. She says she was inspired by the idea of creating an indoor market after seeing Oakland’s Durant Square marketplace. By opening Urban Kiosk, Patterson-Simmons hopes to see more small businesses thrive in a growing market like San Jose.

Urban Kiosk is a marketplace centered around vendors. Existing marketplaces in San Jose function primarily are food courts. Urban Kiosk is strictly for retail. Vendors can choose from 5×5, 8×8 or 10×10 spaces that they can rent out by the day, week or month. Prices start at $100 a day for a smaller space with potential for price to decrease depending on the length of stay.

Urban Kiosk will be located in an area between San Jose State University and city hall, which receives heavy foot traffic during the day.

Patterson-Simmons feels like Urban Kiosk will address the issues faced by local vendors in the city actively looking for a place to market and sell their goods like the farmers market, who temporarily closes during winter because of weather. Patterson-Simmons says she wants to cultivate, elevate and motivate local artists and entrepreneurs looking for an opportunity to grow and learn how to run a successful business on their own terms.

Patterson-Simmons is no stranger to the process of starting a business. She always wanted to have a business and not make jewelry as a hobby. Eight years ago, Patterson-Simmons opened the Neu2you Thrift Boutique seven years ago. Over the years, she has seen countless vendors struggle without a space to sell what they make.

Seasonal marketplaces, local events and farmers’ markets act as the only venues where DIY creators can sell goods during the year. These operations tend to charge vendors steep fees and contracts are often inflexible.

Patterson-Simmons says, “Being a vendor for so long, the heartache and ills of having to spend $200 a day just to sell your own goods… it didn’t balance … it defeated the purpose, because there are days you don’t make any money.”

Ann Marie Lang, partner and co-founder of Urban Kiosk, is excited to bring this space to the community. She has noticed that the artists community lacks a place to showcase their products.

“With millennials, a lot of folks have a lot of ideas, but it all starts from a garage,” says Lang referring to tech companies that started out in garages. “Why not from our garage?”

Lang envisions Urban Kiosk as an innovation hub for young people with ideas that need a space to create and market their goods without having to commit themselves to a lease before they are sure that they will be able to operate a successful business.

Patterson-Simmons said she will also offer mentorship through her program called “Don’t Talk About it, Be About It” that will support participant through all phases of starting a business.

If successful, artists may choose to get their own store front or continue to sell their products at Urban Kiosk.

Urban Kiosk is slated to open January 2020.