Business education in store for merchants at ‘Retail Academy’

Feb 24, 2013
Business education in store for merchants at ‘Retail Academy’

Are you a current or aspiring retailer in Hampton Roads? Whether you own a haberdashery in Hampton or envision a china shop in Chesapeake, a new training program will show you the tricks of the trade, starting in March with an inaugural session for Portsmouth entrepreneurs.

The Hampton Roads Retail Academy is a 12-week series of classes on topics such as business planning, marketing, merchandising, customer service, legal issues, financial planning and security.

The spring session begins on March 6 and is limited to retailers in Portsmouth. (Future sessions will be open to students from throughout Hampton Roads.) Applicants must register by March 1. The cost per student is $60. The two-hour classes will meet at 8 a.m. every Wednesday at the TowneBank Building, 200 High St., Suite 203, in Portsmouth.

Successful local retailers will teach the courses, said academy director Ben Salomonsky, a longtime Virginia Beach jeweler who developed the curriculum. The program includes one-on-one counseling, peer-to-peer networking and opportunities for instructors to personally visit a participant's retail operation.

“If they’re already in business, they can ask us to come by their store and take a look,” he said, noting that this distinguishes the academy from traditional retail courses.

Funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the academy is a partnership between the Retail Alliance and the Small Business Development Center of Hampton Roads. Last year the two groups received a $100,000 “Portable Assistance” grant from the SBA.

The summer session will be held June 12 through Aug. 28.

To register, email, call 757-353-8866 or visit the SBDC’s website.