A new pop-up style, daily artisan market hopes to be an incubator to help small businesses grow beyond trestle tables and marquees.
The Chatterbox Market will officially open inside the old food court of Wollongong Central on July 6, a large retail space which has been vacant for months.
Natasha Cuevas is working with owners of the centre, GPT Group, to create the space which will house dozens of unique stalls from a florist to food, ceramicists to kids clothing and more.
"The idea is they become so successful and can work on their business models within that retail environment and so it sets them on the pathway to opening their own store," Ms Cuevas said.
"They'll be the same [stallholders] for a while to let them experience their growth and to then be able to transition ... we'll off them a lot of business support."
She also is working on opening a live music "lounge", "installation room" to exhibit locally made art and a children's workshop activity area (including "messy play") in coming weeks.
Ms Cuevas is aware the retail sector has not been kicking goals recently, but remains optimistic now is the time to trial the idea and hopefully watch it thrive.
Earlier this month the National Australia Bank's chief economist Alan Oster declared the retail industry was "clearly in recession".
"The consumer remains highly cautious with anything but spending on essentials because of ongoing slow income growth, high debt levels and possibly some concerns over falling house prices," Mr Oster said.
"The recent deterioration has seen conditions in the industry fall to levels not seen since the [Global Financial Crisis]".
After running The Collective in Gerringong for several years, Ms Cuevas is confident the time is right and feels it will offer a different experiences for shoppers - something they've been searching for.
"I'm totally aware of retail being something that's not wonderful, which is why I think these new innovative ideas are so important," she said.
"Customers really want more from their shopping experience otherwise they would just sit online and stay at home.
"Having it indoors is something that would be attractive to market goers [because of the winter weather], and it helps us get everything organised and performing the best way ... for when it gets busy in September."
She also hoped the new offering would compliment the current outdoor markets in Crown Street Mall - Eat Street on Thursday nights, and the Friday Forage farmers market.
GPT Group marketing manager Holly Howell said Chatterbox would be an opportunity for small businesses to "get a taste in a larger format retail environment".
"It is a great opportunity to celebrate local heroes and provide a platform to showcase the best of Wollongong," Ms Howell said.
Chatterbox Market will officially open on July 6, Level 1 of Wollongong Central.