BART passengers will see more retail shopping opportunities at stations

Starting the first of the year, BART passengers will see more retailers at stations. There are already vendors at BART stations selling items such as flowers and food.

Now, the transit agency is selling this program as a way to enhance the lifestyle of passengers.
"How many of you wake up in the morning and can't wait to get to that BART station," Alexis Wong asked the audience that laughed in response at an open house held in Downton Oakland Wednesday night. She is the CEO of TransMart, the San Francisco based company that is partnering with BART.
Dozens of small business owners attended the gathering.

They are looking for the opportunity to expand their businesses by setting up shop at one of BART’s 43 stations.

One potential BART retailer says a brick and mortar store is beyond her reach right now.

"It's really expensive to get a lease to try to put together a whole package," says Brandy Varnado, a small business owner of The Black Market Group in Richmond.

But selling her homemade soap products at a counter or kiosk at a BART station could be the first step in realizing her dream.

She says she sells online and at farmers markets.
"It's a great opportunity for local businesses," says Varnado.
Transmart hopes to find about 40 to 50 retailers.

They showed KTVU artist renderings of what the retail spaces would look like.

CEO Wong says there will be a wide range of offerings...from clothing to personal services.

A pilot program was launched last November at the Embarcadero and Montgomery stations.

"One of our partners is an organic dry-cleaning company that allowed BART riders to drop off and pick up their dry-cleaning on their way to work," says Wong.

The length of the leases ranges from one to seven years.
Depending on which station and how large the space, rent can run from $1,000 up to $4,000 a month.

For example, a space at the Embarcadero station will be the most expensive because of the high volume of passengers.

Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center, a nonprofit which helps entrepreneurs, says this could be a great fit for many small businesses.

"To see a vibrancy come to the East Bay and see investment and open possibilities is a long time coming. I'm really happy about this," says Brent Sweet with the nonprofit.

The BART stations in San Francisco and Oakland will be the first to launch this retail expansion in January.