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  • Writer's picturePhil Chang

The Nooks is Canada’s first 'artisan retail business incubator'

This article was first posted on Reposted with permission. Thanks for the wonderful article Jillian Follert at

An Oshawa store that gives makers a “nook” to call their own is expanding.

The Nooks opened in the Oshawa Centre in February, featuring handmade products by 48 small business entrepreneurs.

With Thyme Maternity closing down in the space next door, The Nooks has announced plans for a 2,000-square-foot expansion, which will allow a total of 65 makers to showcase their products, as well as space for daily pop-up markets. The expanded space opens Oct. 1.

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, The Nooks founder Colleen Imrie says the Oshawa location is building a following.

“It has been a real delight for people who are not used to finding something like this in a mall,” she says.

The Nooks is Canada’s first “artisan retail business incubator.” The unique retail model lets small handmade business owners buy a monthly membership, which gets them store space — a three foot-by-three foot nook to set up, brand and stock however they choose, all while they keep 100 per cent of their sales. A small-business incubator model also gives “Nookies” help growing their brand. “We don’t just rent space, that’s easy to do. We support makers with all the layers of what it takes to be a business,” Imrie says.

The Oshawa store stocks everything from children’s clothing and baby blankets to cosmetics and jewelry.

In addition to creating more nooks, the bigger space will allow up to 180 makers to be part of daily pop-up markets between Oct. 2 and Dec. 24. The pandemic has resulted in most local craft markets and bazaars being cancelled, which leaves makers struggling for places to showcase their products. Imrie is hopeful the pop-ups will offer a boost during the important pre-Christmas months.

Being able to help local entrepreneurs — and tell her success story despite COVID-19 — is gratifying for Imrie. “I think that, to see a small business in a position to expand and help others succeed, it’s a powerful statement,” she says. “A lot of major retailers are closing, but our model is thriving… our vendors are doing really well.”

The Nooks also recently launched an online marketplace, which also allows vendors to keep all of their sales. In addition to the Oshawa Centre location, The Nooks stores can be found in Port Hope, Muskoka, Kingston and Vancouver.

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