Meraki Market Hub brings 28 new mini-stores to downtown Elgin
A pandemic is a tough time to open a new business, let alone 28.
But that's essentially what Jose and Audrey Lintag are doing as they open the Meraki Market Hub in Elgin. Well, the two of them and 26 other small business owners.
The new multi-vendor market will officially open Saturday, Nov. 21, at 66 S. Grove Ave. The space will start off housing 28 vendors in about 3,300 square feet, but they plan to expand to a second floor area of the building that will give them about 6,000 square feet and room for about 50 vendors in all. The building is the former home of Elgin Books & Coffee.
"I'm not going to lie, it's scary timing," Audrey Lintag said. "We're going to do everything we can to build this place up because it's not just our business, but all these small businesses depend on us."
Lintag said she and her husband have been selling homemade items for the past couple of years. She makes handmade soaps and he builds home decor items such as custom wood signs. They had been participating in farmers markets and other multi-vendor markets before deciding to make the leap and open up their own place.
"We wanted both a space to sell our own things but also be able to help other small business owners," Lintag said.
She said they bought the building in mid-September and are opening now to be ready for the holiday shopping season.
According to Lintag, about 80% of the vendors sell handmade items. "Our goal is to have things that people won't be able to buy anywhere else in town," she said.
Current vendor offerings include artisan candles, handbags, furniture, boutique clothing and myriad gift options for the holidays. There is also a coffee bar and snack area that is limited to takeout for now.
Lintag said they limit the number of vendors per category so people in the market aren't competing with each other. The products in each vendor's space have bar code price tags to make it easier to keep track of the transactions. Customers pay at one location in the front. Dan Orlando of Sleepy Hollow was adding a few last-minute items to his retail space, DJO Signs & Such, Friday morning. Orlando is a carpenter who makes decorative items, from signs and shelves to chairs and a full bar, all out of used whiskey barrels.
"Audrey's got the backing of Elgin, which is huge," Orlando said. "Having a place where we can sell our product and not have to be there is the best way we could do this because I can spend my time building and my wife still has a full-time job."
"We're really excited for the opportunity for people to come and see our work."
The market will be open Tuesday through Sunday. with hours varying on weekdays and weekends. Lintag said they'll have extended hours in December.