Downtown Johnson City is thriving and FULL of opportunity. It’s time to turn your tomorrow into NOW, and bring your big dream to downtown Johnson City.

Always dreamed of opening a boutique shopping experience? We have a grant available to help support local entrepreneurs who want to open a retail marketplace filled with specialty vendors!

This is a project supported by Connect Downtown Johnson City and funded through a Placemaking Grant from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. The goal is to support a local entrepreneur to fill a larger space in the downtown district and which will provide space for at least 10 micro enterprises/vendors.

The Curated Shop owner will recruit their own vendors, however, we believe the following types of retail vendors would be preferred.

  • Hardlines Retail
    • Home Decor / Furniture
    • Kitchen / Cooking Supplies
    • Electronics
    • Local Artisians / Makers
    • Pet Supplies
    • Bath / Beauty Supplies
    • Jewelry / Eyewear
    • Artisan Grocery Retail Items (jarred, canned, boxed or bottled)
    • Stationery / Books / Media
    • Plants / Floral
    • Artwork / Creative
    • Gift Items / Miscellaneous
  • Softlines Retail
    • Men’s Fashion
    • Women’s Fashion
    • Active Wear
    • Footwear / Shoes
    • Accessories / Specialty Fashion

What Types of venders we’re NOT Looking For:

  • No full service restaurants
  • No liquor / tobacco / vape supplies
  • No guns / firearms
  • No pawn shops / “eBay” stores / thrift shops
  • No adult stores / pornographic stores
  • No non-retail office, event space or business service use

What is Provided and What is Expected

The grant will provide funding for a turn-key white-box retail environment. The space will include signage opportunities, prominent window displays, basic lighting, and a flexible open floorplan for tenants. A designer can be utilized as part of the grant to help design the build out. Funds are available for build out, if needed.

The goal is to subsidize the rent in the Curated Shop. For example, rent for the building for 12 months could be $50,000. This calculation is assuming a building of approximately 5,000 sq ft at a rate of $10 per square foot. Vendors would be charged a fair market rate for the amount of square feet they rent, with no lease under 6 months. Rent would be subsidized on a sliding-scale, 75% for the first 3 months, 50% the next 4-9 months and 25% for the last 3 months. The business owner could utilize the vendors’ lease fees to cover rent, utilities, insurance and POS software.

Connect Downtown JC additionally provides marketing support through social media promotions and marketing efforts. Additional marketing opportunities are available during special events.

The Curated Shop owner is expected to provide their own furniture, product racks and displays, checkout systems, partitions, additional display lighting, signage and any other fixtures or furniture needed to decorate and display products. Request for funds for some of these items could be allowed under the grant, if build out costs are not fully utilized.

Participants shall comply with insurance requirements as well as the City of Johnson City rules and regulations for property use.

The goal of the program is to support small businesses, makers and entrepreneurs of all types to properties where they can thrive as well as fill empty first floor spaces.

In order to maximize lunchtime traffic, weekend shoppers, etc, business must be open during the following hours:  a minimum of five days, (including Saturday), six hours a day and minimum of two evenings each week until 7 pm for the length of the grant. Depending upon season and special events occurring downtown, you may be required to be open for additional hours.

All businesses must be open for minimum hours listed, but may certainly be open more hours.

Business owners will enter into a lease with the property owner. The space must be at least 4000 spquare feet and allow for a minimum of 10 vendors.

Besides this grant, there is funding available throught the First Tennessee Development District in a low interest loan for downtown business owners.

Curated Shop requirements:

  • Retailers must maintain regular store hours per the requirements.
  • Retailer must either complete a CO.STARTERS cohort or have a business plan and pro forma created through the TSBDC or already own a business in this catagory.
  • Shops must maintain a fully stocked inventory during operational hours.
  • Retailers and their shops must have a professional appearance.
  • Retailers must sign a waiver of liability regarding program participation.
  • Retailers will pay all necessary sales tax on proceeds, obtain any necessary state permits and provide certificate of insurance for liability.
  • Retailers must proactively market via social media, relationship marketing, etc. Assistance and training in social media can be provided.

Any questions about submissions can be submitted to

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