This Bootcamp means business

HughE Dillon

Bootcamp is coming to the Northern Liberties area of the city—but you won’t be seeing a group of fitness hopefuls taking a jog or doing burpees.

This Bootcamp is for retail. 

Retail Ready Bootcamp is designed to help businesses who are considering opening their first or next brick and mortar location, and for obvious reasons, this particular service couldn’t be more timely. The pandemic caused a major setback for many entrepreneurs, especially small business owners. Now, this is a way to have some guidelines for reopening and skillsets to expand and offer more. 

“We realized that if the BID was going to tackle vacancy, we were going to have to be proactively helping to create successful business owners,” said NLBID Executive Director Kristine Kennedy in a statement. “Part of Northern Liberties’ character is local ownership and neighbors supporting one another. We’ve seen a swell of kitchen table business startup since March and watched those that were already brewing really grow. The neighbors have really rallied around them. Our aim is to ready them for signing a lease with confidence and giving them the tools to be successful business owners.”

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The Northern Liberties Business Improvement District partnered with the Community College of Philadelphia under the CCPA’s umbrella of their Power Up Your Business Program, which happens to be the only program of its kind in the area. 

Kennedy added: “It’s a win-win-win for CCP, the BID and the businesses who are accepted. The CCP is very excited about bringing their Power Up program more tactically into neighborhoods, we are assisting new and existing businesses make good decisions and businesses learn about how best to approach growth.”

Overall, the course takes 12 weeks to complete for qualified businesses with the first class date set for April 7, and the last for June 23. According to the release, qualifications for businesses to apply include operating for at least one year, gross revenues over $30,000 (profit and loss required), and a demonstrated effort in retail expansion. There is a $350 commitment fee, which will be returned to the business upon completion of the course. Participants will be chosen by a panel including members of the NLB Board, staff and CCP Power Up program managers. What qualified attendees will recieve is a once a week, three-hour live evening Zoom classes with instructors from the CCP’s Power Up Program. 

“We are encouraging businesses who are considering a retail location to apply,” added NLBID Retail Recruiter Pam Simpson in a statement. “We feel businesses with these qualifications have created a good foundation on which to grow into a retail space and this Bootcamp will teach them what they need to know to get their business to the next level.”

Entries are limited for Retail Ready Bootcamp: This inaugural class will be limited to just 15 participants, with applications open now until March 12. Businesses will be selected and notified by March 22, and the $350 entry commitment is refundable when the business completes the Bootcamp. 

“We are keeping this first one intimate so participants can get to know each other and interact with the instructors,” adds Simpson. “There will be mentoring and coaching along with the classes. Participants will have access to experts and information that is invaluable and will leave with a plan to move forward with their business.”

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According to the release: Once selected, the 15 participants will partake in three class modules that will cover Business Structure, which will include topics such as budgeting, legal, insurance and HR; Financing your Businesses with topics on capital, credit, and understanding taxes; and Getting Retail Ready topics such as storefront improvements, reading commercial leases and leasing vs. buying. The series provides a solid foundation for businesses at various stages of their development such as existing storefronts with a reliance on walk-in business, digital-first operators considering a brick-and-mortar location, and kitchen table startups ready to grow. 

“This Bootcamp is an opportunity to meet other business owners who are going through the same considerations, a chance to learn from and work with superior mentors and instructors and a time to concentrate and work on their business for its growth,” said Simpson. “We know a lot goes into a decision to leverage the first or next store and this Bootcamp is designed to walk a business owner through the process of determining their next, best move.”

For businesses and community leaders looking to support this effort, sponsors are being sought to help offset the costs of the program. Sponsorship opportunities are available by contacting Pam Simpson at pamsimpson@explorenorthernliberties.org.

Applications are now available at explorenorthernliberties.org/retail-ready-bootcamp-applications-open. For more details about this and Northern Liberties Business Improvement District, visit explorenorthernliberties.org

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