Bedford small businesses have been working on improvements to their storefront businesses over the last several months with the help of a technical assistance program through the Massachusetts Downtown Initiative Program by the Department of Housing and Community Development.
The Bedford Economic Development Office received a $15,000 grant from the program last year for hands-on assistance from retail consultant Christine Moynihan, on ways to improve appearance, marketability, and merchandising of local small businesses. Moynihan has provided consulting to retailers and storefront businesses for 20 years throughout Massachusetts.
Kicking off the program in June 2019, Christine Moynihan gave a workshop open to all Bedford businesses on best practices in retail. The Bedford Chamber of Commerce helped the Town promote the workshop widely to all businesses. After the workshop, seven businesses applied to receive individual consultations including Renzo Salon, Wearovers, KB Jewelers, Great Road Gallery and Framing, Minuteman Diner, Well Effect, and Express Pizza. All the businesses have storefronts on main roads in Town but all struggle with identifying and implementing the right combination of improvements to position their business for success.
That’s where Moynihan’s suggestions come in handy. After an initial intake meeting, she provides a written list of improvement priorities for each business such as upgrading signage, improving the layout of the store, and changes in storefront window displays. All the businesses are in the process of making changes based on her recommendations with the Town providing a small grant to complement this state-funded program.
James Jamesapollos, owner of the Well Effect on Great Road, notes that “the program was a concrete step from Bedford to support small retailing and provide some needed assistance in today’s highly competitive retail environment. At Well Effect, we are delighted at the choice of the consultant and the information that was provided that gave our business an informed perspective from an expert. Our entry will be so much more inviting and functional to welcome people to drop in and set up a self-service appointment to tour our facility and to get specific answers to their questions.”
Renzo Salon has been in the community as a family business for over 45 years. Salon owner, Laura Rossi, states that “my goal is to re-envision the salon with a new name and this grant will help make it possible. I am so grateful to have been part of the Retail Visioning program. Happy to know that Bedford cares about their small businesses.”
These small business owners share a desire to contribute unique products and services to the Town of Bedford while achieving the financial success needed to own a small business. Bedford’s Economic Development Director Alyssa Sandoval appreciates what the program has done so far to support small businesses. “The retail assistance has given these small businesses many practical tools and strategies,” Sandoval said. “The businesses can really expand on these recommendations going forward.”
Ms. Moynihan noted that retailers work long hours to attract customers, deliver good products and services to their customers and are valuable members of their community. “At the end of the day, the customer’s perspective is reality! All of these businesses are working hard to make that perspective as positive as possible,” Moynihan said. Shopping locally when one can is a great way to support small businesses. We are proud of the commitment of these businesses to achieve their vision and wish them every success.
Coming Full Circle
Read more about Bedford’s retail visioning workshops