Wow. What an interesting month it has been. Aside from all my normal duties at work, blogging, and with the Gasparilla Arts Festival, I’ve given tours, had Sunday brunch meetings, used two staple guns, opened a Square account, and improvised window displays. And been more fulfilled than ever before.
Doing what, you ask? WELL…
I opened a four-day pop-up store event in Ybor City, which closed this past Sunday. That is, after the urging of two mentors, who know and share my love for retail. They also happen to own the building I used for the event.
From initial seed idea to completion, we had ~35 days. The space wasn’t quite ‘raw’ —but it was the shell of a former architecture firm’s office, with cubicles and a strangely sterile male/female bathroom set. And plenty of dead bugs.
We had to un-nail the front doors, which face Seventh Avenue, a.k.a. La Setima in years past, one of Tampa’s oldest streets. Clubs and bars have prospered there more recently, however the neighborhood is undergoing a transition back to daytime-oriented services. Retail has always struggled along the street, which is one reason I wanted to open there.
In that five-week time, I lined up four vendors (myself, two friends, and a local business I modeled for), bought props, borrowed props, and transformed the space into a warm retail atmosphere. Or at least to the extent possible without expending serious dollars.
And I marketed, with some help. It was a massive work effort, one I had never encountered before.
The response before, during, and after was thrilling and inspiring. Who knew so many people thought the concept had serious legs? My biggest fear was promoting something that turned out to be a let-down—a common problem with Tampa creative ventures.
The execution and promotion showed plenty of room for growth and improvement in strategy next time around, but for a mostly-social outreach sweep, a healthy crowd gathered on Thursday and Friday nights, with waves coming and going on Saturday and Sunday during the day. We even had random walk-ins from on the street, which is sorta the point of retailing.
Each vendor brought something to the table, both for buyers and for the execution of the event. I, via CoDesignment men’s consignment, provided a bulk of merchandise.
Brent Kraus of Ella Bing offered up his marketing consultant to do a press release. Mark Brokaw of Artisan Crafted Edibles brought an accessible price point to the shop, with pre-packaged boxes of macarons for sale ($6-12). And Paul Trusik, of both Vinyl Lover used records and CoDesignment, covered a wall with the best album art of his collection, which included Grace Jones and David Bowie.
Other new connections, made in the process of developing the store, too offered their contributions. It was an overwhelming swell of support, and made me believe more in the future of Tampa.
The space we occupied this weekend is slated to become a coffee/tea house & coworking space, à la the Oxford Exchange. The leader of that effort, Roberto Torres, is also the owner of local clothing brand Black & Denim.
Over the four days, total sales came in at around $1,400. And $40 in bartender tips, which Zachary insisted I put toward the significant outlay for wine. Not bad for a store that didn’t exist last Wednesday, and is already gone today.
In casually discussing the pop-up with colleagues and at at parties, I already have requests for another, even bigger pop-up. A “holiday 2014” pop-up shop has been suggested, and I like the idea.
I am grateful to all who expressed their excitement in messages to me from afar. For friends and family who took the time to visit, thank you for supporting a local blogger and his cohort of young creatives! We are eternally lucky to have people like you around us.
Thanks to Todd Montgomery for taking photos – check his site out.
And though there are plenty of others to thank, my friends and mentors Tona Bell & Randy Rosenthal, of Tricycle Studios, have been great givers of advice and encouragement over the last year. I love you both!