Lily Wickoff owns a jewelry store in Greenville, South Carolina. But this holiday season she has a second store in town—a temporary shop that will sell vintage jewelry, furniture and clothes to holiday shoppers.
Wickoff is taking part in a growing trend: “pop-up” stores that take advantage of vacant storefronts and other empty spaces in their communities for limited-time periods, often around holidays or certain seasons. Wickoff’s pop-up store—named LP Vintage & Friends—is setting up shop inside a local 3,000-square-foot event hall in Greenville’s Art District, according to Greenville Online.
Across the United States, pop-up stores have become more popular in recent years. They’re a win-win for many local communities and their entrepreneurs. Cities and towns are able to fill vacant real estate that would otherwise sit empty. Entrepreneurs can test selling their products without making the long-term commitment of leasing commercial space.
“It’s a really great, brilliant way for a young person, for a young company, to cut their teeth on what it’s like to have a shop and to really run it,” Wickoff told Greenville Online.
Economic development authorities in cities and towns with ample vacant storefronts are especially allured by the concept of pop-up businesses. Duluth, Minnesota is giving free temporary space in vacant downtown storefronts to more than eight businesses looking to sell around the holidays. Winners of the free space included a wooden-case maker, a fudge maker and local photographers and artisans. The businesses must open by November 30, which is Small Business Saturday, and close by January 10.
The hope in cities like Duluth is that some of these pop-up stores will eventually become year-round businesses. Last year, for example, the city of Gardiner, Maine provided free downtown space to three pop-up shops. But one shop that sells donated and consigned goods to animal-rescue groups, 2nd Hand Pooch, decided to stay after the free-rent period ended.
"When you're spending money in downtown Gardiner, you're helping your neighbors and community members sustain their businesses,” Nate Rudy, the city’s director of economic and community development, told the Gardiner Morning Sentinel. “There's a huge value to that that goes beyond just shopping.”
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