A new storefront at Glenbrook Square is offering shoppers a variety of local products in one location this holiday season.

The Indiana Marketplace is operated by the Collective of Indiana, a cooperative of five local merchants. The store features products from 11 Indiana Grown members from northeast Indiana. Indiana Grown is a statewide branding initiative created by the Indiana State Department of Agriculture to promote products that are grown or made in the Hoosier state.

Shoppers can find handmade lotions and soaps, home décor, natural perfumes, jewelry, gourmet foods and more. Vendors are available to answer questions and customers can try free samples of local goat’s milk or jalapeno honey.

“We want you to come into our store and feel welcome and feel like you’ve stepped into somewhere where you can talk to people and get feedback,” said Cris Lamb, owner of Old World Fudge in Columbia City. “If there’s something special that you want, we’re going to try to help you find it.”

Lamb is one of the five small business owners who spearheaded the store. After Indiana Grown hosted a successful market at the Indiana State Fair, people wanted to know where they could buy Indiana Grown products all year, especially during the holidays, she said.

Lamb, along with other members of the Collective of Indiana, approached Indiana Grown with the concept of a brick-and-mortar store at the mall. Indiana Grown supports the marketplace and helped the Collective connect with other local vendors.

Working together has allowed the group of small businesses to break in to a space typically dominated by corporations.

“We’re working together to build the store to give Indiana Grown members an opportunity to place their product in front of the public eye in a bigger arena,” Lamb said.

The Indiana Marketplace opened for the holiday season Nov. 2 under a short-term lease that’s currently set to expire Jan. 31. However, the Collective is gauging customer interest to see if there might be an opportunity for a permanent storefront.

“We’re really trying to get a feel from the public if this is something that they want all year long,” Lamb said.

So far, the reception from the community has been incredibly warm, said Chelsea Garrihy, a member of the Collective and owner of Doc’s Apothecary, which makes handmade skincare products. Mall shoppers have appreciated the opportunity to shop local and support local small businesses, she said.

“The world’s changing a little bit, (and) the economy is changing a little bit,” she said. “People are enjoying shopping small and (when you do it like this), you don’t have to go to 52 different stores to find the products that you’re looking for. You can find them all in one place.”

The marketplace featuring Indiana Grown members is located on the same corridor as Macy’s and across from Forever 21. For more information, contact Cris Lamb at (260) 609-1210 or visit The Collective Indiana Facebook page.

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