In 2013-14, Beverly Blasingame operated a fair trade shop (Eclipse Trading Post) at NewBo City Market — an incubator for startups. The first year in business proved to be an intensive course in retail management. According to her original plan, she left the market after a year of research to develop an online store and sell responsibly sourced, handcrafted gifts made by local & global artisans.
With the help of McNary Marketing & Design, she opened a shopping site in 2015 from her home in Iowa City, but it didn’t go as hoped. The small e-store couldn’t compete with the Amazons of the web, and it failed to help artisans, especially women entrepreneurs, bring their products to the wider public. She missed interactions with customers and business owners.
Blasingame imagined setting up her own storefront. Wasn’t that how business worked — expand or close? But where to locate a fair trade shop?
Historic Uptown Marion. It was a town with history, art, antiques, a chocolate shop. Vision. Her hometown, Marion was a place she had left for decades in order to see the world, and she had traveled full circle. Better still, her daughter, son-in-law and grandsons had recently moved to Marion.
Blasingame found a storefront with a lucky address (777) on a side street across from a pub near the main drag. By the time she opened in May 2016, she had developed a new line — an assemblage of global, handmade tableware and Iowa artisan food. The Village Table Collection was launched under Eclipse Trading Post, its parent.
In order to grow, it had to find its own identity. In 2017, Blasingame expanded the collection into Village Table, an independent shop, and closed Eclipse Trading Post. She approached management of NewBo City Market about returning to the neighborhood in the belief that Village Table fit the market’s mission of food, fun and community service. Now, NewBo City Market has once again offered Blasingame the opportunity to make good.