[caption id="attachment_195320" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Delaware Coastal Business Park has landed another tenant, JennyGems, as part of its second phase of construction. That marks the fifth tenant in the last five years for the Sussex County business park. | DBT PHOTO BY KATIE TABELING[/caption]
GEORGETOWN — JennyGems, a home goods manufacturer that focuses on custom-made signs, is looking to expand its business with a move to the Delaware Coastal Business Park this fall.JennyGems is reportedly in discussions with Sussex County officials to sign a lease for at least 25 years to build on 3 acres of land at the business park off Delaware Route 9. The agreement, which has yet to be signed, will construct a 15,000-square-foot warehouse.The home goods business, launched by Jennifer and David McMillan, has rapidly outgrown its location — a former doughnut shop — in Harbeson. The company specializes in box or flat wooden signs, all assembled and printed out of the couple’s shop. JennyGems has 20 employees and expects to hire an unknown number of additional employees once its new operations are set up in the Coastal Business Park.“I’m in shock, business is up 40% year to date so far, and we may be on track for doubling last year’s sales,” Jennifer McMillian told Delaware Business Times. “It’s incredible to think of where we were in the last couple of years. We’ve been selling more than 200,000 products a year, roughly.”McMillian started JennyGems in 2008 as an online business after she was laid off from her job at a bank. When the couple opened the storefront seven years later,
[caption id="attachment_220491" align="alignleft" width="200"] Jennifer McMillan has rapidly grown her custom-made sign business in Harbeson, and is now looking for a bigger building. | PHOTO COURTESY JENNYGEMS[/caption]
they were sourcing inventory from China, which had slightly inexpensive production costs but the tariffs and customs caused many logistical issues.The McMillians then invested in a CNC router to cut the wood and two UV printers to print designs on scores of signs at one time. The equipment arrived one week after the COVID-19 pandemic changed daily life.The company re-focused on branding its products “Made in America.” Sales eventually boomed, with contracts with Walmart and other retail stores and an online presence on Etsy. JennyGems eventually closed out 2021 with a 10% increase in year-over-year sales.“I really do believe more people are looking for things ‘Made in America,’ especially with how everything changed overnight and how hard it is to buy things because of the supply issues,” Jennifer McMillian said. “It’s gotten to the point where we would have thousands of orders to complete within a month.”To that end, the new business in the Coastal Business Park will be geared more to manufacturing on-site. The Haberson storefront serves as a retail and manufacturing site where customers can come in and shop, while the Coastal Business Park will have more of a showroom set-up.Looking to the future, McMillian is exploring branching out the business to cornhole boards and possibly canvas prints. Brides and newlyweds often come to JennyGems to print wedding photos on wood, so canvas may be the next step.JennyGems would mark the fifth business to sign onto the Delaware Coastal Business Park since Sussex County officials agreed to expand the property in 2017. Current tenants include injection-molded plastics manufacturer Atlantis, flooring supply company Creative Floors South Inc. and international lighting company JAYKAL LED Solutions. Cabin manufacturer Great Outdoors is planning to open shop in the business park soon.Sussex County Economic Development Director Bill Pfaff said that business is booming, and with JennyGems, the county will be entering the second phase of construction of the business park.“We have one lot left in phase 1 and it’s gotten great interest, and Great Outdoors is already working to lay the steel right now on its site in phase 2,” Pfaff said. “JennyGems is a great product, they’re great people and clearly the owners have a great passion for what they’re doing here. We’re excited and know they will be great partners.”
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