Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pop Up Businesses In Chattanooga

Sewn to the Sky
Pop up retail is one solution gaining ground nation wide to jump start small businesses even in a tough economy. It's been especially successful in neighborhood revitalization efforts to bring new commerce to depressed areas, as evidenced by the great Build a Better Block project in Memphis, Dallas, Kansas city, and more, which inspired Glass Street Collective's strategy for bringing new life to Chattanooga's east side. As Business Insider explains, "It’s a trend that really became prevalent at the start of the Recession (when vacant retail storefronts became abundant), but it has stuck around and has even grown in prominence. Why? Maybe because temporary spaces can evolve as quickly as consumers’ ever-changing tastes, moods and interests do." Everyone is getting into pop up, from Microsoft to small restaurants and craft stores. 

Handmade goods at Sewn to the Sky
Chattanooga has taken its first dip into pop up retail with a small series of businesses opening on the corner of Market and Chestnut. The effort has been funded by River City Company. The businesses include Go Bagel, a quick and affordable lunch and breakfast spot, IronLabs, an interactive gaming center, Sewn to the Sky, a shop specializing in vintage and retro-look fabrics and handmade gifts, O.C. Buckles and Company, a craft store, and Tasty Daylight Donuts, featuring over 50 different varieties. As the Times Free Press explains, "All five of the retailers are businesses likely to keep people hanging out downtown after work. The group was selected from 30 applicants by a panel of downtown business owners and River City Company employees on the merit of their business plans, their professionalism during interviews and their financial situations."

High-quality fabrics at Sewn to the Sky
The businesses have already gotten a lot of positive press, and one even got involved in a media kerfluful with EPB. After IronLabs requested and was denied a full gigabyte of internet service, which EPB was the first in the United States to offer, EPB got some negative press and controversy in the news and on social media. With so many beautiful handcrafted goods and edibles, and so much media presence already, these pop up businesses are sure to be yet another feather in Chattanooga's cap. 

Residents and visitors should be sure to check them out. A great time to visit would be the Chatty Crafty Fall Street Fair this Saturday, October 27th 2012 on that same corner of Market and Chestnut. Several businesses beyond the five pop up retailers are sponsoring, including Track29 and Chestnut street neighbor Aladdin Printing. It promises to be family and pet friendly and feature fun pre-Halloween activities like costume contests. 

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