Join the Incubator

MWBC Shop Local

36D Maryland Ave. Rockville, MD 20871

Thank you for your interest in becoming one of the retailers in the MWBC Shop Local Retail Business Incubator. We typically offer two cohorts each year, with up to six retailers per cohort, to help selected women entrepreneurs, especially minority women entrepreneurs, start and grow their retail enterprises.

We offer a proven retail incubator experience that boosts entrepreneurial success, marketing savvy, customer engagement, and personal and professional confidence. The retail incubator provides a natural, low-risk business ecosystem, free retail space, visual merchandising and marketing strategies, business mentorship and training, and access to working capital using local resources. Each participant works surrounded by other entrepreneurs, often with a similar focus in the retail industry segment.

Beyond lowering barriers for women to launch and scale sustainable retail enterprises, MWBC Shop Local contributes to the local economy through product sales and job growth. It also increases the value and vibrancy of downtown Rockville by supporting diverse, local businesses that complement the existing Rockville Town Square retail community. This, in turn, can lead to more business development and investment into Rockville, Maryland.

Our retail business incubator opportunity was created to cultivate retail entrepreneurs and reduce the obstacles that often prevent women entrepreneurs from creating successful and sustainable small businesses.

New retail businesses or existing retail businesses looking to expand current facilities. Types of eligible businesses include, but are not limited to, the following categories:

  • Apparel/other clothing
  • Beauty & skincare products
  • Candles
  • Gift cards/stationary
  • Handbags, totes, etc.
  • Handmade crafts, such as glass blowing, ceramic/pottery, antique reclamation, knitting, sewing, crochet, etc.
  • Home goods, including recycled or green products for the home
  • Home furnishings and furniture, hardware
  • Inspirational products (journals, artwork, bags)
  • Jewelry
  • Party supplies
  • Shoes/boots (handmade and unique)
  • Toys and games, hobbies
  • Vintage and repurposed merchandise

In total, more than 20 women-owned small businesses have participated in the Shop Local Retail Incubator program, positively impacting their families and the local economy.

  • 1,320 square feet of retail storefront in Rockville Town Square or retail space in The Little Café, part of The 3rd’s 8,000 square feet community in the Exhibit Building at the Lakefront in Columbia, Maryland
  • Easy parking access
  • Business mentorship & retail training, including visual merchandising, inventory & supplier management, Point of Sale (POS) systems, and effective retail marketing
  • Opportunity to expand beyond MWBC Shop Local upon graduation. More than 10 graduates have opened their own brick-and-mortar location after graduation, with remaining graduates opening online storefronts
  • Promotional efforts and inclusion in marketing campaigns by MWBC
  • Proximity to Rockville Innovation Center, Rockville Public Library, Other Shops in Rockville Town Square

Apply to the MWBC Shop Local Retail Incubator Program

Applications for the Spring 2024 cohort will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, December 3, 2023.