How to Run a Successful Independent Business in Jamaica Plain

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While Jamaica Plain prides itself on supporting independent businesses -- operating one is not as easy as just opening up shop in the neighborhood.

Kristine Cortese and David Warner, co-founders of City Feed and Supply.

"I would advise anyone looking to start an independent business in JP to start with a love of the neighborhood. If you love the neighborhood, it will love you back," said David Warner, who co-founded City Feed and Supply with Kristine Cortese, and opened their first store in 2000 on Boylston Street and their second store on Centre Street in 2008. "Secondly, I would advise them to ask for help in every direction it is available."

That help can come from numerous local organizations and nonprofits, including Boston Main Streets, the City of Boston, Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation, JP Local First and JP Business and Professional Association (BAPA).

Warner added that business owners need to research market rate rents and make sure they can afford the space down the road. Also, financially speaking, find a bank that will work for you and be open to crowdfunding and finding local investors, he added.

"And lastly, once you figure out how much you think everything will cost, double it!" said Warner.

And looking back, business owners can reflect on the difficulties.

"The hardest things to learn about opening the business is that we weren't ready. It's a long story many may know, but because we first opened as a pop-up that was meant to be only for a couple of months, we didn't have the financial structure or planning to execute an ongoing business. We learned, prepared and adapted one day at a time," said Carina Lopez, owner of Rose JP, which opened in fall 2018.

Amy Driscoll, owner of Susanna, a women's boutique opening on Centre Street in July 2019.

Owning a first business also helps when opening your second, said Amy Driscoll, owner of Susanna, which is opening on Centre Street in September. Her first Susanna is in Cambridge.

"I have learned so much from the buying, to the design of the shop -- which display systems and ideas have worked, and then the main one would be hiring and managing staff," said Driscoll.

Driscoll added she's learning about how working together with other Jamaica Plain businesses is very important to the community.

"Everyone has been super welcoming and excited that I am coming which is wonderful to see because I know that’s not always the case in some areas," said Driscoll.

And while owning a business may be your dream, it's not going to be exactly as you how dreamt of the business.

"Nothing will ever be as perfect as you want it to be but you must work with what you have to get yourself off the ground," said Lopez.

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