Jennifer Purrazzella of Sardis Marketplace on family, community, and daring greatly
Meet Jennifer Purrazzella, the owner/operator of Sardis Marketplace, which has been voted Matthews/Mint Hill Weekly’s “Best Consignment Store” for three consecutive years. Sardis Marketplace is a 20,000 sq. foot showroom, filled with beautiful furniture and home décor items.
With tenacity and vision, Jennifer created not only a beautiful shopping emporium, but is helping to breathe new life into a location of Charlotte/Matthews that is often overlooked. She took a longtime unoccupied building and transformed it into a gorgeous and inviting space. She’d love to welcome you to her store, where you’ll often find her with her rescue dog, Piper, by her side. It’s a pet friendly environment, so feel free to bring your own (leashed) furry family member.
Now let's get to know her story...
Are you a native Charlottean?
I grew up here—so I consider it my hometown. I love that it’s big enough to offer a lot without being overwhelming. I’ve built a life here, my friends are here, and I met my husband here. He’s a native Charlottean. And now I’m a small business owner here.
What was your path to becoming a small business owner?
Actually, I never saw myself as an entrepreneur. I worked for years in the corporate world and when I decided to leave, I thought I would go in a different direction. I love fashion, so I thought about doing image consulting. Then I started working with my mom at her consignment shop on South Blvd. I really enjoyed it, and I was able to help her grow her business.
Is that what sparked your interest in having your own business?
Yes. My mom’s rent went up and she was ready to just close her store. But I had started to think that I was meant to do this. I struggled to decide what I was supposed to do, but I kept returning to the vision I had for a one-stop shopping place. I wanted to create a space that was a great environment for vendors and a place where people could come and enjoy their day. We discussed it as a family and decided to move forward.
What kind of experience has it been operating a family business?
I’m so blessed to have so much family support. My mom Ruth and I run the store together, which works out well. We have different strengths and balance each other in a positive way. My husband has been incredibly supportive, and he even helps out on the weekends if we’re shorthanded. My dad and brother have helped as well. And my husband’s family has been amazing in their support.
You chose the Crown Point/Matthews area for your business. Why?
Originally, I wanted to stay in the South Blvd. area, but it didn’t work out. My mom lives near here, and when I would visit her, we would keep our eyes open for potential places for the business. Then we found this space and thought it would work. It was 20,000 square feet, had tons of parking, lots of windows. And it’s right off of Sardis Rd. North, easy to access.
What was the process like of setting to set up the business?
It was very challenging. We closed the old place on South Blvd. and set everything up here within six weeks! It was crazy. There was so much that had to be done. This building had been vacant for 10 years—so long there were actually weeds growing inside. We needed work on the floors, walls, windows, and roof. It was insane, but somehow it all got done.
How were you able to get everything finished so quickly?
I call it a God thing. It was like a series of small miracles, with one thing leading to another. Each step I took, God met me along the way. We also couldn’t have done it without the help of David Krug & Associates. David owned the building, and he worked with us to make this happen. He helped us in many ways to get this business off the ground, and continued to help along the way. He took a chance on us, and he’s been an integral part of our success.
Six weeks is such a short time—were you able to secure any vendors in time for your opening?
That was another amazing thing that happened. When we had our soft opening, three years ago in May, we already had half our spaces rented. By June, we were fully rented.
It sounds like vendors have been an important part of Sardis Marketplace from the beginning. What’s involved with being a vendor?
We love our vendors! With our vendors, we charge $250 for a rental space of 10 X 10 feet. We get 10% commission of their sales, which covers the space, our manning of their booths, and their use of the store if they need it for any promotion/event. We’ve had vendors do all kinds of events, from wine and cheese receptions to gardening and art classes. We’ve even had essential oil demonstrations. We’re always ready to help our vendors in any way we can. And we want to give our customers a unique shopping experience.
Is there anything else that sets your vendor relationships apart?
One thing that makes us different is that our vendors don’t compete with each other. We don’t have more than one vendor in any category/niche. We also don’t have any hidden fees or require a long contract, as are common in this industry. We just do month-to-month contracts.
Let’s discuss the consignment part of Sardis Marketplace.
With our consignments, we do a 60/40 divide on the sales, with the consigner receiving 60%. We want to our consigners to do as well as possible, so if I can run my business on 40% commission, I want them to keep as much as possible.
Tell me about your support of local organizations and charities?
We give 10% of all of our commission to various charities and local organizations. I’ve always been a cheerful giver, and I knew that giving back was always going to be a part of this from day one. There have been times when we’ve struggled to pay our bills, but we’ve never failed to make our 10% donation. It’s something I’m committed to. We give to a variety of organizations and causes (homelessness, addictions, animal rescue, human trafficking and more), that work for the betterment of those in our community. We also donate clothes and furniture throughout the year.
It sounds like this business is about much more than sales.
That’s true. Don’t get me wrong, we are a business and we have bills to pay like anyone else. But we look at this as more than just a business. We want to be a positive presence in our community. We want our vendors and consigners to do well and be happy. And of course, we want our customers to enjoy coming here—to come out and spend some time here. It’s a relaxing, no pressure environment. And we’re thrilled when a customer finds something they love.
Speaking of community, you’ve started the Community Pop Up Market. What is that?
The Community Pop up market is a monthly event that we’ve done for two years. It’s a place anyone can come to sell their goods. It’s $25 to participate, and that money goes to pay for a live band and advertising of the event. We have a food truck, great music, and an amazing mix of people! For July and August, we will be waiving the $25 fee. We love bringing the community together with events like this and encourage everyone to come by one of our pop ups.
You carry a wide variety of merchandise. It seems like there’s something for everyone.
Absolutely. We have a great mix of furniture and home décor. Modern, farmhouse, traditional, and antique. We have a mix of new and used pieces. We also love to collaborate with Charlotte’s talented artists and other creative people who have handmade work to sell. We even carry clothing, accessories, jewelry, and gift items.
What about price range?
We get a lot of compliments on our reasonable prices. And even though everything is marked with a set price, customers are welcome to make us a reasonable offer. We want people to leave with the item(s) they love, and we work hard to make that happen as much as we can.
Where can we see more of what's in store and keep up with events and what's new?
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