Centro San Antonio shifts its focus to helping small businesses

New program offers chance to have own storefront downtown

SAN ANTONIO – Centro San Antonio is a local nonprofit dedicated to creating a beautiful, welcoming and safe downtown.

Now, the organization is looking to help local small businesses get their own storefronts free of charge, while simultaneously filling empty storefronts, bringing more people and more investment in the downtown area.

Applications to take part in the program are now open.

“We make everything from facial care products, hair care, lip care, and body care products. And now that I have more space here in my store, I’ve actually decided to bring in more accessories, clothing, and things like that,” Mariam Bah, owner of Pure Aloha Bath and Beauty said.

Bah is an alumna of the Holidays on Houston Street pop-up shop and is one of two businesses that turned the pop-up shop experiment into a permanent brick-and-mortar business.

“My experience last November and December doing the Houston Street pop shops was actually amazing, because it led to me finally having my own store,” Bah said.

It’s no secret that starting owning and operating a small business can be challenging, but Mariam says the pop-up program made this store possible.

“I think the program gave me the boost that I needed. You know, it feels like your community is here, saying we need you here. We want what you have. You are a vital part of the community,” Bah said.

The Holidays on Houston Street pop-up shop connects aspiring retailers to a no-cost retail space located in the heart of downtown. These small businesses get a storefront from early November to the end of December and two of the six businesses from last year are setting up their own shops.

“It’s critical to the ecosystem, regarding small businesses in downtown. We had huge success with holidays on Houston Street last year and it’s hard to think about when the temperatures are 100 degrees, but $50,000 in revenue,” Trish DeBerry, president and CEO of Centro San Antonio said.

The idea is that it not only helps the small businesses take the next step, but it can also help downtown.

It’s a step forward towards the mission of living, working, and playing downtown.

“There is new excitement associated with downtown. It’s palpable. You can feel it. We talk about stadiums and that opportunity and what that means to downtown,” DeBerry said.

As for Mariam, she has advice for anyone looking to take the next step.

“It’s crucial to work with other small businesses. We are a community. We have to support each other in order to succeed,” Bah said.

If you are a small business looking to apply, you can do so by clicking here.

About the Author

Max Massey is the GMSA weekend anchor and a general assignments reporter. Max has been live at some of the biggest national stories out of Texas in recent years, including the Sutherland Springs shooting, Hurricane Harvey and the manhunt for the Austin bomber. Outside of work, Max follows politics and sports, especially Penn State, his alma mater.

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