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A new way to sell art

An Atlanta boutique leases retail space in six-month blocks to designers.

Brandi Stewart

(Fortune Small Business) -- After two years of peddling handbags at crafts festivals, Petra Geiger got fed up with her nomadic business.

"After a certain point, I wanted something a little more predictable and a little less burdensome," Geiger, 39, says.

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Maisie Moebes wears a dress designed by her mother, Deborah, at the Beehive Co-op.

When she found that other artists shared her frustration, the former graphic designer opened Beehive Co-op (beehiveco-op.com), an Atlanta boutique that leases retail space in six-month blocks to designers.

In addition to paying rent, Beehive vendors work in the store for at least five hours a week and pay a sales commission of as much as 20% of revenues that exceed the rental fee. Last year Beehive artists brought in $180,000, and the co-op was profitable.

This year Geiger plans to roll out a franchise program to bring her co-op concept to more cities. Geiger's business plan calls for her to sell at least three franchises by the end of 2007.

"I'm looking for the right owners," says Geiger, who has received applications from California and Texas. "Someone who really gets the concept and is passionate about it."

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