Whether a pop-up shop, pop-up event or pop-up planning process – the Pop-Up Economy means that whatever pops up is temporary. This temporary status makes pop-ups less risky than setting up something permanent and typically requires less investment of time and money.
“The pop-up provides business owners the opportunity to test a new product, concept, brand or market before making any long-term investments,” notes the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission’s brochure on the Pop-Up Economy. “The owners of vacant properties can also economically benefit from the Pop-Up Economy. Traditional leases are long-term; when viable tenants cannot be found, the extended vacancies that result can be a financial burden to landlords.”
Some examples of the Pop-Up Economy in our region include the “Pop Up Holiday Shop” at Central Square in Keene and multiple Complete Streets demos hosted by Southwest Region Planning Commission in Keene and surrounding towns (see Keene’s Complete Street Demo video here: bit.ly/pop-upkeene). Our Pop-Up Economy also includes food trucks like Street & Savory and Salt & Lime. These mobile businesses aren’t temporary, but the locations where they set up their business can change.
Beyond our region, two Pop-Up Economy examples serve as inspiration for building upon our own pop-up efforts: Night Market Philadelphia in PA and Western Market in Muskegon, MI.
The Food Trust, a nonprofit focused on access to healthy food, started Night Market Philadelphia in 2010. It’s a roving festival that pops up in different neighborhoods and brings communities together to celebrate the joy of food with food trucks, musicians, street performers and art installations. Each event is co-hosted by a community partner and supports existing businesses in each neighborhood by helping merchants secure permits to set up outside their storefront and attract more foot traffic during the event.
Through a partnership with the University of Pennsylvania’s Healthy Food Truck Initiative, The Food Trust promotes food truck vendors who offer fresh, healthy menu offerings. They also work with Kiva Zip to bring 0% interest loans of up to $10,000 to local food entrepreneurs. These activities mean the community and economic impacts of Night Market Philadelphia ripple well beyond each one-night event.
“Today, Night Market isn’t just a busy night for food truck vendors -- it’s an opportunity for local entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and build a lasting customer base,” states The Food Trust’s Night Market Philadelphia Five Year Report. “It isn’t just one evening of celebrating a neighborhood -- it’s a catalyst for sustained community engagement. It isn’t just a popular event -- it’s a creator of jobs, tax revenue and real economic growth.”
In 2017, the city of Muskegon built twelve small “chalets” on an empty lot and called it Western Market (in reference to their nearby farmers’ market). The chalets each cost about $5,000 to build and the city rents them to businesses for the season, from May to December. Last season’s businesses included a bakery, fair trade boutique and a variety of other retailers. While the initial funding for these structures came from donations from the local chamber of commerce, a community foundation and other area organizations, the success of Western Market (demonstrated by a waiting list of 25 businesses) convinced the city to use municipal funds to build five more chalets in 2018, locating them at different downtown locations.
In addition to helping new businesses get a start, seven existing businesses from nearby communities used the chalets to grow their customer base. The success of Western Market motivated a number of downtown landlords to build smaller retail areas on their first floors to accommodate these growing businesses in the future.
“We’ve taken very small spaces, like here at the Western Market, and much larger areas, like the farmers market, and turned them into vibrant places that draw people from miles around and provide an economic boost to our entire community,” said Muskegon Mayor Stephen Gawron.
Have ideas to make your community pop with the Pop-Up Economy? Explore the opportunity to secure start-up funds for your idea through The Local Crowd Monadnock and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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