APEX — Every Saturday morning, the North Carolina State Fairgrounds come alive with shoppers looking for good deals at the Raleigh Flea Market.
The Doodling Bug is one of several small mobile shops tucked into the side of a building.
The temporary walls are adorned with T-shirts and signs. Colorful jewelry and scarves litter the hand-painted furniture. Customers crowd the small area to get a glimpse.
Owner Julie Cox, who has been operating out of the flea market since 2010, knew it was time to expand. She figured downtown Apex was the perfect place to open a permanent shop.
The Doodling Bug is set to open on Salem Street on July 1. An official grand-opening ceremony is planned for July 4, in conjunction with a downtown parade and celebration.
“The Apex community has just been wonderful,” said Cox, 38. “Even as we have been painting and getting everything set up, people stop by to chat. We couldn’t have picked a better location.”
For Cox, opening the store has always been a dream. She founded The Doodling Bug in 2003.
The name of the store came from Cox’s passion for doodling as a child, and her love of ladybugs.
In the early years, the store operated as a “stop and shop” out of Cox’s house in Cary. After realizing that she could run the business successfully, Cox decided to move to the flea market.
“The flea market is a great place for small businesses to start out,” she said. “It’s very low risk and low overhead. It lets you dip your feet in without making a full commitment.”
As the shop grew and attracted regular customers, The Doodling Bug became limited by the amount of space and the set hours at the flea market.
“Having a permanent location was just a logical next step for us. I’ve had my eye on the particular space for years,” Cox said. “It’s been a whirlwind and a fun adventure to see it come together this quickly.”
Cox doesn’t have plans to abandon the mobile shop. She will still set up The Doodling Bug at the flea market, in addition to featuring goods from local vendors. Customers can expect handcrafted items from local shops like Dirty Annie’s, House of Swank and the Urban Poppy.
“I follow a lot of the trends and try to get items that would be popular with consumers,” Cox said. “I really try to make things affordable. I don’t like to spend a lot of money on accessories, and I know other people don’t either.”
The Doodling Bug isn’t Cox’s full-time gig. The ambitious businesswoman juggles working in the shop with being a human resources business partner for SAS Institute in Cary, which she considers a dream job.
The juggling act is made easier by help from family and friends. Her father helps build shop items, while her mother is a sales manager. Cox’s sister handles sales, and her fiance helps her run the business.
“Having that job has just been wonderful,” Cox said. “I’ve got a great team that helps run this. I have the best of both worlds.”
Wanbaugh: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @TaylorWanbaugh