In the face of competition from large retail chains and online retail, many cities and towns–and creative property developers–are seeking new solutions to revitalize historic downtowns and high streets. This search coincides with an array of social and environmental objectives: walkable/cyclable communities that promote healthy living and reduce fuel consumption; small business growth and increased access to local livelihoods; and more vibrant and better serviced public places for everyday enjoyment.
Micro-retail markets are one such solution. They provide affordable, entry-level spaces for small business start-ups and provide destination identity and vibrancy to new developments and regeneration areas.
In 2015, the Westbank Corp. and Centre for Social Innovation commissioned The Next Practice and the ThinkFresh Group to develop the concept, business model, and financial model for a micro-retail market as part of Westbank’s redevelopment of an historically iconic 1.8 hectare central Toronto site. In addition to providing an array of bespoke goods and services for residents and visiting shoppers, the Honest Ed’s Alley market aims to provide a supportive environment where new entrants can test their offerings and retail concepts before ‘graduating,’ if successful, to larger retail spaces.