The Makers Loft Iowa City is rethinking the nature of retail

Simeon Talley Simeon Talley, founder of The Makers Loft. Photo contributed

The Makers Loft Iowa City, a space for retail goods from local makers and artisans, will open its doors for the first time this Thursday.

Makers Loft is the next iteration of RADinc., a space in Iowa City that opened in May of last year with the intention of being retail incubator with space for pop-up stores, performances, community events and studio space for local artists. Makers Loft will have a similar vision to RADinc. but will be more refined and focused.

Makers Loft products will be locally sourced and produced, giving local artists a physical space to sell their goods and allowing consumers in the community the opportunity to connect with those making the products.

“You want to curate for the best type of product and put together a good mix of makers and artist that fit well together and that are also sort of at a point in their professional artistic journey where they are all looking to make the next step,” said Simeon Talley, co-founder of The Makers Loft. “And Makers Loft can be that next step in providing them a permanent retail store and space that’s dedicated to selling and promoting their goods as well as continuing to build a community.”

In addition to selling locally produced goods, Makers Loft plans to host events for the community.

“With RAD, we did almost any type of event you can imagine. We were all over the place. I think that was good and served a need but I think there’s a need to be a bit more focus,” Talley said. “With Makers Loft, we hope to be a bit more specific and a bit more thoughtful with the types of events we hold.”

Makers Loft comes to fruition at a time where retail has seen a steep decline.  In a world dominated by Amazon and e-commerce, brick-and-mortar retailers are having to constantly adjust to keep up.

“The nature of retail is definitely changing. We’ve had a long-standing debate around whether retail is dead and is brick-and-mortar dead. Can brick and mortar survive under the pressure of more online sales and e-commerce?” Talley said. “But I think that in Iowa City and other communities across the country, you’re finding a return to craftsmanship, quality and curation and creating a store where there’s an experience in addition to just shopping.”

“I think it all comes down to creating a space to build community. That’s our primary focus is how do we build community within this small but really centrally located space that’s inviting for people with a creative map from a shopping perspective,” added Veronica Tessler, co-founder of The Makers Loft and founder of Yotopia Frozen Yogurt in downtown Iowa City. “We really intend for it to be a community space.”

The Makers Loft will open for business August 30th and will be holding an open house on Friday, August 31 from 12-6pm.