Wilmington Cargo District packs in dozens of local businesses

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Ever want to run you own business out of a shipping container? This small business week, the Wilmington Cargo District is expanding and giving local businesses a chance to grow.

Since 2018, the Wilmington Cargo District has grown from two buildings to more than 30 over several blocks. It houses local businesses like Cheesesmith, Vibe Electric Bike Rentals, Ghost Hill Press, and the Last Stop, a vintage clothing store.

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Jacob Bledsoe is a part owner at the Last Stop, and says he and his two friends dreamed of opening this store. Thanks to the Cargo District, they finally did in June.

“I know a lot of other places are very expensive and not very affordable,” Bledsoe said. “So the cargo district gives you like a very good opportunity to get started.”

Just across the road, Erin Ellsworth runs a one woman flower subscription service and shop called Petals to the People. She launched her own business out of a truck two years ago, and loves the diversity of Cargo District stores all working together to make their start.

“Oh it’s definitely growing,” Ellsworth smiled. “A really good vibe. It doesn’t matter who you are, you’re going to find something out here that you love.”

Cargo District owner Leslie Smith says that’s all by design.

“The idea was to make it affordable to those that were looking for a chance,” he explained. “I’d say we’ve about doubled in the past year. Probably a little bit more than that.”

With something new around every corner, these shipping containers are holding more than just cargo. They’re helping business owners accomplish lifelong dreams.

“It’s rewarding like personally because we’re very passionate about it,” said Bledsoe. “It’s cool to be able to put our time and energy into something that we actually care about.”

Smith said they should announce new businesses joining the Cargo District within the next two months. He could only speak over the phone because he was overseeing the installation of several new containers added to the district.