With a view to the popularity of locally produced products, Bon-Ton Stores is extending its Close to Home initiative by adding in-store shops to at least 100 stores this year.
The initiative follows what Bon-Ton described as a successful launch in 45 stores this past fall.
Close to Home shops feature locally sourced and themed products. From September through December, Close to Home shop sales more than doubled initial projections and the company expects continued growth in 2017. More than 100 small businesses from 16 cities across eight states participated in the initial Close to Home shop launch. Although unique to its particular community, most Close to Home shops include locally-themed glassware, pillows, blankets, home décor, natural candles, handbags, scarves and related accessories, bath and body products, and other unique giftable items. Many products are hand-crafted or made with locally-sourced materials.
As part of the program, Bon-Ton will debut a Close to Home Online Sourcing Fair. The retailer is inviting local artists and designers, makers, artisans and entrepreneurs with established businesses and galleries that are interested in selling their products in Close to Home shops to apply online for inclusion in the program.
The product submission period for the first Close to Home Online Sourcing Fair will continue through March 24 at closetohome.bonton.com. To qualify for the program, applicants must reside in one of the 25 states where Bon- Ton’s operates.
“Our regional merchandising teams carefully curated these shops to deliver customers a hometown shopping experience that reflects the tastes and buying preferences of our local communities,” said Kathryn Bufano, Bon-Ton president and CEO. “The Close to Home shops have been a great opportunity for us to showcase local artisans and entrepreneurs, and demonstrate our commitment to supporting the communities we serve.”