Charleston International Airport officials hope to offer new vendor options to the nearly 4 million people who travel through the state's busiest terminal each year.
The Charleston County Aviation Authority board unanimously signed off on the plan Thursday to install five kiosks operated by small business owners over the next year.
The first two movable carts or set-in-place vendors in the $50,000 program could be set up in the spring, with others to follow, according to Shelby Scales, vice president of Jacobsen|Daniels, a planning and management firm hired by the airport for guidance on the project.
The program is aimed at small businesses in the region who might one day be successful enough to have their products carried in one of the shops already at the airport.
Applicants must submit a detailed business plan showing company background, product concept, financial objectives and how the business will be managed, among other criteria. They also must not compete with existing concessionaires at the airport.
"We want to compliment what you already have with regional brands," Scales said.
Not every applicant will be accepted or be right for the market, she added.
"We don't want a flea market appearance," Scales said.
The Aviation Authority will own the kiosks. Vendors will pay 10 percent to 13 percent of gross revenue or a minimum of $500 to $1,000 a month to lease the spaces. Leasing terms could run from six months to three years, and a vendor's success will be evaluated at different intervals.
She also assured Aviation Authority members that correctly selected vendors are revenue producers and cited other airports such as Denver and Minneapolis that have similar programs.
"I think you have a great opportunity here," Scales said.
Airport officials lauded her presentation and welcomed the concept.
"I think it will be a great program to expand what we already have," said Hernan Pena, airport vice president of engineering.
"It's a great opportunity to help small businesses succeed," board vice chairman Walter Hundley said.