POP-UPS SHOW THEY BOOST LOCAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (third installment in a series about pop-ups)
Lower Prospect, Nova Scotia, is a small fishing village, with a population of about 200, that is located halfway between the city of Halifax and world famous Peggy’s Cove. Like other seacoast towns whose economies have historically been based on the now-collapsed ground fish industry, Lower Prospect is looking for ways to re-invent itself in order to rebuild its local economy.
A local leader in this effort is East Coast Outfitters (ECO), which provides guided sea kayak tours, lessons, and equipment rentals. Dave Adler, owner of East Coast Outfitters, says his business is driven largely by community economic development. And while this eco-tourism enterprise has gained an avid following, there are certain particular days that draw the biggest crowds. On such days, ECO sets up chairs and tables at its boathouse overlooking the harbor, offers a guided paddling tour, brings in some live music, and then hosts a multi-course, chef-prepared pop-up dinner that rivals anything one can get at the world’s leading restaurants, but with a surrounding ambiance that can’t be matched. “Dock and Dine,” featuring the exceptional culinary skills of local chef Dennis Johnston, is fast becoming a destination in itself in Lower Prospect.
From Oakland to Nashville, New Orleans to Detroit, and in hundreds of small towns in between, pop-ups have emerged as a potent tool for merchants and economic development experts to vitalize local commerce. Several factors play into this trend:
The Shop Local and Slow Food movements. Granted, this is the era of Big Data, E-commerce, Super Malls and vast fast-food restaurant chains. But lost in translation is the fact that consumers still want to know who made the goods they are buying. They want to try things out before shelling out their hard-earned money. They want to support local artisans and makers and believe in “slow food,” sustainable cuisine. In other words, they still prefer the human touch. So while technology is pulling at us in one direction, we are fighting to retain control of our shopping and dining experiences — to say nothing of our humanity — by frequenting farmers markets, pop-up restaurants and supper clubs, and specialty merchants that are the backbone of the pop-up movement.
Tightened municipal budgets. These days especially, town economic development officials have to operate under limited budgets and to leverage their meager funds in the most effective manner. Pop-ups are great public-private initiatives that require very few moving parts, don’t necessitate a lot of money, and are usually win-win scenarios for pop-up merchants, customers, commercial landlords, and the overall economic health of the community.
A fresh “buzz.” Pop-ups tend to inject some freshness into what otherwise are often descending business areas. Recently, PopUp Republic curated a four-month pop-up marketplace in a section of Brookline, Massachusetts that has historically been commercially challenged. The mixed-use five-story building that served as the pop-up’s venue was totally vacant and had been attracting an assortment of unwanted miscreants. By the end of the pop-up’s temporary residency, thousands of people had patronized not only the pop-up shops, but also nearby merchants. With an expertise in all aspects of pop-up operations — from concept to launch to operations and promotion — PopUp Republic is uniquely able to assist local communities to activate pop-up initiatives.
Storefront vacancies. The national retail storefront vacancy rate continues to hover around 10%. This rate is considerably higher in the areas least able to afford a decrease in local business activity. In such times, it is hard to find merchants able and willing to commit to large capital outlays or long-term occupancies. Pop-ups not only serve to redress the blight these empty storefronts emit, but also create a pool of prospective long-term lessees as they see their new businesses beginning to prosper.
PopUp Republic has become the nation’s leading authority on pop-ups. It provides an on-line directory on which pop-up operators can post listings about their upcoming events, and offers social media marketing assistance to promote pop-up ventures. It also works hand-in-hand with community leaders to create successful, transformative pop-up events. To learn more about how your area can host and benefit from pop-ups, please visit our website, www.popuprepublic.com and our Pinterest page, www.pinterest.com/popuprepublic. And you’re invited to contact PopUp Republic’s pop-up specialists by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Pop-ups can be the key to local economic revival.
Stay tuned to Patch.com for the next installment of PopUpdates!