A business incubator in southern Dallas County has gone virtual in an effort to help keep its tenants in business.
Grow DeSoto Market Place on E. Belt Line Road continues to be closed to in-person shopping, though many business owners are increasing their presence online.
“We do our best to keep a good attitude and optimistic outlook,” said Kira Buckley, co-owner of HeyyHealer Holistic Health + Wellness Studio.
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Buckley and co-owner Portia Andrews offer services, including yoga classes, and sell products including immune boosters, sage, plants and teas.
“We have supplements, we have herbs, we have teas,” Buckley said. “We have all things cleansing.”
HeyyHealer is one of 28 small businesses set up inside Grow DeSoto.
Most of these entrepreneurs are first-time business owners.
“What’s happening with COVID-19 is not going to be done anytime soon, so what I’m trying to do is look for technology solutions to keep our companies in business,” said Terry Toomey, executive director of The Industry Hub, which manages Grow DeSoto.
Toomey collaborated with Walkabout Workplace to develop a "virtual, digital marketplace" for tenants.
The online Walkabout Directory allows customers to type the business they’d like to connect with to inquire about products and do virtual shopping.
Customers can drive up an pickup their purchase curbside or have it delivered at home.
Grow DeSoto has been open since 2018, providing low rent as well as business and marketing help to its tenants.
Toomey said she was working to see if she could find any kind of rent relief for her tenants.
Her goal is to help small business owners navigate and overcome the impact COVID-19 is having on businesses now, and in the future, by getting creative in how they connect with customers.
“When you’re an entrepreneur it’s more about just being in business,” she said. “It’s about being nimble. It’s being able to react to the market.”
Grow DeSoto is a 10-year commitment between the city and DeSoto Economic Development Corporation.