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Retail Lab helps small businesses get started

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DAYTON, Ohio — For small business owners, it’s sometimes tough to know where to start. But Retail Lab is making it a little easier. 


What You Need To Know

  • Retail Lab focuses on getting vibrant storefronts in downtown Dayton while helping entrepreneurs get there
  • The program is 12 weeks long and helps new entrepreneurs get connected with services to get their business off the ground
  • Davia Allen, owner of women’s boutique Vidia’s Closet, graduated from  the program in 2020
  • Allen encourages new business owners in the Dayton area to apply

Davia Allen has always loved fashion, which helped prompt her to open Vidia’s Closet, a fashion boutique for women. The store has been open for nearly two years and Allen enjoys helping women feel confident. 

“She was like, ‘when I stepped out in your outfit, I just felt amazing,'” Allen said of a customer. “That always feels good to know that my clothes empower women.”

But it wasn’t always this easy. Allen was encouraged to apply for the Retail Lab program shortly after she opened her brick-and-mortar store. The program hopes to energize downtown Dayton with vibrant storefronts while helping those business owners, like Allen, have a pathway to opening.

“I was just getting started, so I was just opening up my business,” she said. “They actually brought in a lot of service providers that were able to help me scale my business and help me bring my vision to life.”

Those service providers, like marketing or legal professionals, helped Allen and other entrepreneurs refine their business to be even more successful. The program provides up to $2,500 for each participant toward these services. 

“They’ve always been helpful,” Allen said. “So any time that I need them, they’re a phone call, email away. Even though I went through the program in 2020, they’re still available for me.”

While Allen already had her store open when she went through the program, many members don’t just yet, and the program focuses on minority and women business owners. Allen hopes other businesses consider applying for the next round. 

“I would really recommend or encourage anyone that has a small business that’s looking to open up a small business to really apply for the Retail Lab because they were like amazing,” she said. “They helped me in a lot of ways.”

The deadline to apply is Wednesday, July 13. They do ask that you would want to launch a business in Downtown Dayton in six to 12 months if you don’t already have a brick-and-mortar store in the area. Click here for more information on the program and to apply for the program.

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