How Pop-Up Stores Are Revitalizing Neighborhoods Across the U.S.

Every neighborhood faces different circumstances. And with 2017 hitting a record-setting number of retail store closings, high vacancy rates are a reality that many property owners face even without unexpected destruction. Fear not, pop-up stores are kickstarting revitalization in areas across the U.S.

Making Neighborhoods Business-Friendly

Pop-up shops can be retail’s answer to helping revitalize neighborhoods. If an area is looking to revamp, pop-up shops just might be an answer to restoring the area to be consumer-friendly and economical again.

Take Memphis, Tennessee’s resident-led MEMFix project for example. Through art, entertainment, pop-up shops, food, drink and pedestrian-friendly streetscape improvements, it’s making neighborhoods more people and business-friendly. Sometimes, this means improving walkability. Other times, it’s raising property value or offering businesses financial resources.

Former Mayor of Memphis A C Wharton Jr. pens for CNN, “ Easy to implement and inexpensive, these projects help Memphians rediscover hidden alcoves, let neighborhoods showcase their creativity, and provide a blueprint for permanent infrastructure.”

The project has helped more than nine business launches, while six turned into long-term leases. It also contributed to a 41% reduction in vacancy rate in one neighborhood.

Wharton Jr. continues, “For us, innovation means reduced youth gun violence, it means a brighter, more vibrant city landscape, and it means new businesses entering and impacting neighborhoods in need of a lift.”

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Build Buzz and Community

Pop-up stores also offer cities a way to build buzz and community in a specific neighborhood. In terms of building buzz, Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood is a prime example. An Art Basel destination, the annual event brings attendees from all over the world.

The pre-established success and notoriety of the event drew the world’s attention to Miami when it arrived in 2002. What was once a rundown area has been revitalized through the pop-up event, and it’s now a mecca for nightlife and art galleries.

Related: How retailers find success through pop-ups at Miami’s Art Basel >

Los Angeles’s Westwood Village also underwent an art-fueled transformation that built community through supporting local artists. Through its month-long ArtsReSTORE LA pop-up event in 2013, vacant storefronts were occupied with vibrant art installments.

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Kickstart Long-Term Leases

Note how MEMFix has secured at least six long-term retail tenants and reduced the vacancy rate by more than 40%. This isn’t an isolated incident: Pop-up stores are a great way to connect property owners with potential long-term tenants.

Popuphood “design[s] equitable policies and programs to support inclusive growth, ​healthy economies, and vibrant destinations.” They look to bring to life to vacant spaces, working with real estate professionals and municipalities, to create incubators for local retail entrepreneurs. Their Pop-up to Permanent Program has the specific goal of turning short-term rentals into long-term tenants.

Jason Roberts, the founder of Better Block, talked about a similar initiative in his TEDTalk about how Better Block created a park with pop-up coffee shop, kid-friendly art studio, markets and greenery in the Dallas, TX neighborhood of Oak Cliff. This sparked the revitalization of the area — including long-term tenants in formerly vacant storefronts.

Improve the Local Economy

Together, the aforementioned benefits combine to stimulate the local economy. Business- and resident-friendly neighborhoods generate local income, long-term leases improve the financial health of property owners (and increase property value), and interest in the area brings outside interest.

The American Independent Business Alliance reports that almost half of each purchase at a local independent business is recirculated locally, compared to less than 14% of purchases at chain stores. More local businesses means more money in circulation at a local level, not to mention more job opportunities.

Ready to kick-start a pop-up store community in your neighborhood? List your space!

Alexandra Sheehan
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