Looking to buy local? Check out the Local Focal

Published 12:01 am Sunday, January 15, 2023

SALISBURY — When you walk into Local Focal in downtown Salisbury, it’s all right to feel overwhelmed with the variety of pieces that are available. Having so many different options together under one roof is what Alexandria Bare is hoping makes Local Focal stand out in the world of retail.

“I prefer to call it a small business mall because we’re little bit less antiques and more so small business owners. We currently have 87 small businesses inside the store. Everybody’s got their own little brick and mortar with their own little theme, which is really cool,” Bare said.

The 12,000-square-foot store gives small business owners a section of the building where they can set up some of the items they wish to sell. These include clothes, antiques, jewelry, art, homemade soap and honey. Bare said it’s not a flea market or consignment shop, only people with their own businesses can have a booth in the store. People fill out an application, go through an interview, and if accepted, can pick a spot of their own.

“Anyone really that’s an entrepreneur, a small business owner already, an artist or creator we will most likely accept them,” the store owner said.

The Salisbury native is a real estate agent and small business advocate who has always been interested in assisting others since she was little, being born into a small business family.

“I just combined my experience with property management and passion for small business and put it into one and opened Local Focal. I’ve been dreaming about it for a while. My family used to have a Christmas tree farm where they would sell 5,000 Christmas trees during Christmas time. I would make cookies and anything I could do to help and make money or support small businesses,” Bare revealed.

The soft opening took place Nov. 1 and the grand opening will be on Feb. 1. According to Bare, Local Focal has sold 7,000 pieces to over 2,200 customers in two months. For some business owners, this is their first brick and mortar store. For others, it’s their fifth or sixth.

A 3,000-square-foot second story with the potential to have 60 small businesses is in the process of being renovated. In the next two months, an event center will open holding classes for moms and daughters, candle making workshops, and wine and paint nights. Bare has high hopes for Salisbury in general and wanted to take advantage of the city’s evolution.

“Salisbury, I think, is the next Charlotte in my opinion. I think it’s going to get big, especially with the Empire Hotel coming, which a lot of people are excited about. Local Focal did really great for November and December last year. So, I really just wanted to help Salisbury grow and be a part of its big change for the next probably 10 years,” Bare exclaimed.

Local Focal’s divergent business model seeks to compete with similar retail spaces, but it has its own set of benefits and obstacles.

“Local Focal is really what I created because I wanted to focus on local small business owners rather than open up a big mall where a lot of these kind of style malls charge 15% commission and we’re only an 8% commission, so that helps with marketing. The downside of charging so low commission is that we don’t make enough to do billboards and commercials and things like that,” Bare confessed. “We’re not really in it to make a ton of money, we’re just kind of here to help your business grow.”

Laurel Adams came with a friend to Local Focal for the first time and is thrilled about not having to travel so far for a store like this. “I love what they’re doing because these kind of stores you see all around, but not in Salisbury. Downstairs is great, upstairs a lot of potential to grow. I like it,” Adams said.

Bare has only her assistant manager, Amber Lambert, to help out.

Alexandria Bare — submitted photo

Bare said they’re always in need of more antiques.

Alexandria Bare says of her vendors, ‘Even though they’re not part of the staff, they’re a stakeholder in the business.’ Brad Dountz/Salisbury Post