By Tim Ryan

In an exciting development for the historic district of Downtown Phoebus in Hampton, Virginia, the Retail Alliance and Phoebus Partnership have unveiled the winners of a pivotal grant program designed to bolster the local retail sector. On March 22, 2024, five distinguished local retailers were announced as recipients of a strategic blend of micro-grants and specialized retail technical consulting services, signaling a vibrant future for the community’s economic landscape.

L-R: Jenny Crittenden (President/CEO Retail Alliance), LaVonne Allen (Fine Art Administrator, Art Central Gallery), Dominique DeBose (Executive Director, Phoebus Partnership), Robin Carpenter (President, Phoebus Partnership)

This groundbreaking initiative is fueled by a generous $100,000 Virginia Business District Resurgence grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), a testament to the state’s commitment to rejuvenating its historic business districts. The selected retailers—Art Central Gallery, Happy Hempo, Palace Jewelers, SeeWhich Books, and Sly Clyde Ciderworks—embody the diverse and vibrant spirit of Phoebus’s commercial ecosystem.


L-R: Jenny Crittenden (President/CEO Retail Alliance), Colleen Walker (Owner, Palace Jewelers), Robin Carpenter (President, Phoebus Partnership), Dominique DeBose (Executive Director, Phoebus Partnership)

Retail Alliance’s Retail Technical Assistance (RTA) team, comprising experts from various fields, including Commonwealth Preservation Group, Consociate Media, and SBDC Hampton Roads, will work closely with these businesses. Their mission is to refine the customer experience across multiple channels and ensure a seamless integration at all customer touchpoints, enhancing the overall vitality of the Phoebus district.

The grants, ranging from $3,000 to $5,000, are earmarked for implementing the consultants’ recommendations, promising not only to elevate the operations of these businesses but also to inspire a broader impact on the Phoebus community. Jenny Crittenden, President & CEO of Retail Alliance, emphasized the goal of developing “a seamless customer experience that blends at all touch points,” highlighting the program’s holistic approach to retail enhancement.

L-R: Robin Carpenter (President, Phoebus Partnership), Jenny Crittenden (President/CEO Retail Alliance), Kristine Inchausti (Owner, SeeWhich Books), Dominique DeBose (Executive Director, Phoebus Partnership)

Dominique DeBose, Executive Director of the Phoebus Partnership, lauded the pilot program as a transformative initiative for Phoebus, highlighting its potential to “breathe new life into historic districts” and ensure the sustainability of local businesses. This endeavor is not just about supporting individual ventures but about invigorating the entire Phoebus district with new energy, turning it into a vibrant community and an enduring destination.

L-R: Jenny Crittenden (President/CEO Retail Alliance),
Amelia MacCubbin (Manager, Sly Clyde Ciderworks),
Robin Carpenter (President, Phoebus Partnership), Dominique DeBose (Executive Director, Phoebus Partnership)

Moreover, the initiative includes a series of educational workshops available to all businesses within the Hampton district, underscoring a commitment to collective growth and empowerment. This collaborative effort between Retail Alliance, Phoebus Partnership, Hampton Economic Development, and the broader consultant team marks a significant step towards revitalizing Phoebus, showcasing the power of partnership and innovation in nurturing the economic and social fabric of local communities.

The Retail Alliance and Phoebus Partnership’s efforts exemplify the dynamic spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship that drives Hampton Roads. As these local retailers embark on a journey of transformation, the broader community stands to benefit from enhanced services, a strengthened economy, and the resurgence of Phoebus as a beacon of cultural and commercial vibrancy.

L-R: Jenny Crittenden (President/CEO Retail Alliance), Robin Carpenter (President, Phoebus Partnership), Joe Griffith (Phoebus Neighborhood Commissioner), Dani Edwards (Co-owner, Happy Hempo), Dominique DeBose (Executive Director, Phoebus Partnership)

For a community like Hampton Roads, where innovation and entrepreneurship are the lifeblood of regional development, the revitalization of Phoebus is an example of hope and a model for future initiatives. Innovate Hampton Roads celebrates these efforts, looking forward to the continued growth and success of the region’s vibrant business ecosystem.

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