The Little Market’s not really so little anymore.
The nonprofit focused on sourcing fair trade goods from around the world, started by Hannah Skvarla and Lauren Conrad, is set to take a big step into retail with a permanent store slated to open Sept. 22 at Caruso’s Pacific Palisades project.
“We had been looking for the perfect space for a while,” Skvarla said. “I wanted to be in West L.A. because I felt like that was an audience that really understood what we’re trying to do.”
The Little Market caters to a mix of consumers, including teens shopping for jewelry, adults who may be decorating a whole house or socially conscious buyers. Its merchandise assortment is sourced from more than 60 groups and its staff is usually reviewing applications or working on product development with anywhere from another 10 to 20 groups at any given time.
The 700-square-foot store will carry a rotating selection of product that will be switched up monthly. The focus, Skvarla said, will be on gifting, which is a strong driver for the business. The new store will have curated gift boxes and the ability for people to touch and smell the company’s customized candles or salts in person, she went on to say about the merits of operating a physical store.
“At this point, we have a much better sense of what our customers want,” Skvarla said. “One of the things that’s been hard for us online is that a lot of what we want to be able to offer customers are one-of-a-kind products.”
The limited quantities of said products, coupled with the fact that each has to be photographed and then placed online, makes the process a labored one when merchandising the online store, she said. Skvarla and team think the Palisades door will expedite the process with the company able to pick product up from a country and place it directly on store shelves once back home.
“Over the five years, I’ve learned a lot. One of them is patience because all of our products are handmade and product development can take a very, very long time, but that’s what we’re committed to,” Skvarla said.
She pointed to a group of teen mothers the company’s been working with, part of the Peru-based organization called Casa Mantay, as an example. The Little Market has been working with the group on samples for a few years now, waiting to get the product just right.
“We don’t have typical launch deadlines so on top of being patient, we have to be flexible because we never know if something is going to be held in Customs,” Skvarla said.
The new store comes as the company is set to celebrate its five-year anniversary and will follow on the heels of a more recent move from Skvarla’s home office into a more proper office space in Westwood for the staff.