Through MEMShop, Makeda’s Homemade Butter Cookies opened a second location in 2015. After their 6 month MEMShop launch, Maurice & Pamela Hill, store owners pictured above, signed a 5-year lease on their MEMShop location.

What is MEMShop?

MEMShop creates partnerships to activate vacant and underused storefronts to help build local businesses. Born from the idea that retail plays a vital role in revitalizing neighborhoods, MEMShop  helps build local businesses and increase a community’s visibility and vibrancy.

We recruit startup and existing businesses to the program that want to test a new concept, test a new product, or test a new location. We provide one-on-one business managerial training and other support services at your MEMShop location to help sustain and grow your business.

MEMShop is a 12 month place-based program managed by nonprofit Communities Unlimited, Inc.

Who is eligible to apply?

We are seeking for-profit startup or existing businesses. Business owners should have some of their own funds for operating expenses. Memphis residents will be given special consideration. All selected MEMShop businesses must agree to these program requirements, including but not limited to:

  • Signing a 6 month lease with the property owner;
  • Purchasing and maintaining general liability insurance and utilities;
  • Submitting to MEMShop’s monthly reporting requirements that includes income and expense information, sales tax reporting, and job creation information;
  •  Complying with MEMShop storefront façade and cleanliness requirements;
  • Holding monthly marketing events and activities to help drive foot traffic; and
  • Participation in Communities Unlimited’s managerial consulting services and other business support services.

Those businesses that desire to produce products in the back of their space and have retail up front are eligible.

When can I apply?

We like to launch our MEMShops in clusters of 3 businesses per “class” to create synergy amongst the shops. If funding is available we launch twice per year. The number of MEMShops we launch is all based upon funding. We recruit applicants for each “class” on our website and on social media.

What do MEMShops receive?

Our MEMShops that are part of our 6 month incubator model receive a pre-negotiated 6 month lease, rental assistance, managerial training, marketing services and access to other resources that help small businesses thrive. These incubator MEMShops typically launch in a “class” that includes 3 other businesses. Sometimes we have MEMShops that popup for a temporary period of time like for a day or for a multi-week event.  The services received by MEMShops vary based upon funding availability.

How did MEMShop get its start?

MEMShop was first pioneered as part of a larger economic development initiative by the Mayor’s Innovation and Delivery Team (MIDT) in December, 2012. Recognizing the need for intensive technical assistance for selected businesses, MIDT partnered with local non-profit, Communities Unlimited (formerly known as alt.Consulting), to  provide small business managerial assistance, training, and lending services.  Since August, 2014 Communities Unlimited owns and manages the program.

Can MEMShop assist communities outside Memphis?

In February, 2015 Communities Unlimited received funding to test the MEMShop model in two rural-based towns in West Tennessee. Named ALTShop, the program exists to grow the MEMShop model by expanding opportunities in rural and urban areas outside Memphis.
For information about ALTShop, visit our Communities Unlimited website.

Where can I get more information?

If you did not see your question answered here, you may direct all questions, comments and concerns to Cynthia Terry of Communities Unlimited at Cynthia.Terry@CommunitiesUorg.