Washington woman opens marketplace catering to small businesses

WASHINGTON, N.C. (WNCT) – In Washington, the Marketplace at Olive’s is catering to small businesses to promote the local economy.

When owner Janice Chesson’s mother passed away a year and a half ago, she didn’t want to just sell her beloved house.

“This was a social area,” Chesson said. “The children came (and) we played next door. I wanted for it to sort of return to the way that it was when I remember back in the early ‘50s.”

More than dozen local vendors now inhabit the space inside.

“We have beautiful art work; we have a jewelry maker; we also have an in-house baker, we have in-the-kitchen people that do canned goods,” said Chesson.

Vendor George Finn agreed.

“There’s history here like you said this is a kitchen, but then all of sudden you look around it’s like, well you know what, there’s still all food around, and it’s all natural,” said Finn.

There’s something different in each room.

“We have an in-house, on-sight monogramer that’s here that there’s no wait time,” said Chesson.

Chesson said she never expected to retire from her career to do this.

“I’m overwhelmed,” said Chesson, “and very excited for these people. It’s not my business; it’s their business.”

These businesses are already collecting regulars.

“I just had no idea anybody would ever do this,” said Phillis Woolard, a regular customer. “I mean it’s just unique. Beaufort County didn’t have anything like this, and we are just so blessed.”

Chesson said because they are right next to 264, they see at least 15,000 cars drive by, but she is up for the challenge.

“We want to educate people: This is where you need to stop and shop,” Chesson said.

Chesson said by not charging high rent or commission, it gives the businesses a chance to grow.

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