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3 indie retailers on the power of strong community (and how to harness it)

June 20, 2024 | Published by Faire

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The magnetic energy behind small businesses is contagious.

But you don’t have to take our word for it. During an industry panel at Indie Retail Fest, Faire’s head of brand marketing, Kelly Phillips, picked the brains behind three of Denver’s premier independent retail businesses—Wooly Wax Candles founder Rachel Woolcott, FERAL founder Jimmy Funkhouser, and Trunk Nouveau founder Stephanie Shearer—about the retailer community and its unique values and resilience. 

The conversation keyed on the power of community, values, and resilience—and how each of these tenets can bring out the best in your business. These passionate business owners share their take on:

  • How they stay motivated through the inevitable challenges of owning a business
  • The vibrancy, meaning, and impact of small business communities
  • How to tactically nurture community every day at your store

Every single person that walks through our doors is meaningful to us, and we want to get to know them and what they need. It’s super important to us to create that connection, that collaboration, and that community spirit.

Rachel Woolcott, Founder of Wooly Wax Candles

There’s a lot for fellow retailers to take away, from how to bottle the entrepreneurial enthusiasm of smaller retail shops to the importance of renewing your “social license to operate” with the community every day. And above all, that small businesses thrive when they focus on collaboration, not competition. 

Meet the shopkeepers

A former chef for over three decades, Rachel now specializes in scent curations and collaborative custom scents for businesses and special events. Wooly Wax Candles has a retail shop on Denver’s famous Tennyson Street, where it sells hand-poured, 100% natural soy wax candles, as well as sprays, soaking salts, salves, and more. 

Also with a shop on Tennyson (and a newer outpost in Grand Rapids, Michigan), FERAL is a manifestation of Jimmy’s love of the outdoors and his desire to get as many people outside as possible. At FERAL’s brick-and-mortar, Jimmy sells everything you might need for backpacking, camping, climbing, and more.

In the retail business for 26 years, Stephanie started her first shop, Pandora on the Hill, in 1999 and now owns Trunk Nouveau in Stanley Marketplace in Aurora, Colorado. Her store features everything from local jewelry to greeting cards, wooden toys, and other unique gifts (like Therapy Dough, a relaxing “pinch-and-pull putty”). 

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