Steadfast Supply

Gift Shop Plus Winter 2024
Curating Community: Steadfast Supply connects independent brands with consumers By Abby McGarry

In 2016, Virginia Blanca Arrisueño opened Steadfast Supply to fill a void she saw in the marketplace: There weren’t many retail opportunities for small businesses to sell their products and connect with other consumers.

Virginia Blanca Arrisueño
Virginia Blanca Arrisueño. All photos by Emma McAlary, courtesy of Steadfast Supply.

Arrisueño wasn’t just observing this void as an outsider. At the time, she had her own private-label accessory brand and a heart to help other creatives like herself succeed.

“I would approach things where I’m not going to wait for opportunities to be handed to me; I’m going to create those opportunities,” Arrisueño said. “Before pop-up was a term, I would essentially curate pop-ups for friends of mine who also had products that they were selling, and for myself.”

These pop-ups grew into weekend markets and then into the brick-and-mortar store that is Steadfast Supply.

FROM VENDOR TO BUYER

The earliest vendors were indeed Arrisueño’s friends. She presented the concept as essentially a marketplace that was run like a shop. Her team would manage all the displays and help support and promote their goods.

“We originally were developed to support businesses in DMV, which is D.C., Maryland, Virginia,” Arrisueño said. “But we’ve branched out into not just supporting brands in the local area, but also vendors that are based across the entire globe.”

Instead of being a vendor of her line at markets and events, Arrisueño quickly became a buyer.

“I’ve always been the type of person who gets inspired by other people’s hustle, their stories and their creativity,” she said. “I just love to search out different brands and talk to the makers, creators and business owners.”

Steadfast Supply has organically grown into the store it is today with a larger breadth of products and different types of goods.

In 2023, Arrisueño and her team introduced a self-care area that she says has been really picking up.

“People are loving the items that we have on those specific self-care tables,” she said. “They can include crystals, sage bundles, palo santo and basically tools that will help you on your spiritual wellness journey.”

These products also complement candles, which are Steadfast Supply’s consistent bestsellers.

Another relatively new category addition is plants. “Plants were a huge hit during COVID, and we continue to carry them because plants have so many benefits in regards to health,” Arrisueño said. “People love to buy plants for their homes or give them as gifts.”

Products at Steadfast Supply are merchandised in sections to help guide customers from one area to the next and then back to the front of the store. One of the most popular areas is the baby section with onesies, books and toys.

A PLACE OF JOY

The 3,000-square-foot store also acts as a community hub for Washington’s residents, especially those in The Yards neighborhood, where the shop is located.

“We’re built upon community. We’re built upon being able to not only support our brands, but also to support our creative community and to provide something new and different to the residents of our area,” Arrisueño said. “I want to have a business — a sustainable business — but I also want to do something that can give back to the community.”

In addition to the store’s retail platform, workshops in the space provide an opportunity for makers to connect with consumers and share their stories and their skills.

“We do anything from candle making to learning to sew or like our ‘Stitch ‘n’ Bitch’ meet-up where people can come by with their DIY projects and hang out for a couple hours and just work on their craft projects,” Arrisueño said. “In D.C., a lot of times, people have a 9-to-5, Monday-through-Friday job, so they want that extra social connection to have an event on a Sunday where they can come by themselves or with friends, get to know people and learn something new.”

A commitment to community also manifests itself in a way very similar to Steadfast Supply’s origins. Arrisueño often invites brands they don’t carry to do a pop-up for an afternoon, selling their products and engaging with the neighborhood.

“We don’t charge a fee; we don’t take commission,” she said. “This is an opportunity for them to showcase their products and then for us to support them, and our neighborhood loves that.”

Arrisueño hopes that whenever someone walks through Steadfast Supply’s doors — whether for a pop-up, a workshop or just to purchase a quick gift — they find comfort and happiness.

“I want the space to bring a smile to people’s faces,” she said. “I just want it to be a place of joy.”

Abby McGarry

Abby McGarry is the editorial director of the Retail Group, including Gift Shop Plus, Stationery Trends and Lawn & Garden Retailer. She can be reached at amcgarry@greatamericanpublish.com.




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Gift Shop Plus Winter 2024
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