Now that this year's downtown holiday pop-up projects (in which unleased storefronts downtown are "activated" by temporary shops during the big shopping season thanks to a concert of private and government agencies, at minimal cost to the shops) are up and running, I'm already thinking about next year, and maybe you should be too. Curious, I asked Downtown Retail Development Manager Lisa Frisch about the process for initiating such a shop. Peep her explanations below, and get those wheels turning. 2012 will be here before we know it.

MERCURY: Should people should contact you directly with proposals, or go through someone
else? What is the preferred contact route?

LISA FRISCH: Yes, interested parties should send the questions my way, either by phone or email. I then collect and present to the group, which includes Cori Jacobs, Downtown Retail Advocate, Katherine Krajnak from PDC, Courtney Ries from the Downtown Marketing Initiative. We have monthly meetings, but also are in contact almost daily.

When should people come forward with proposals? What is too early, what is too late?
People can come forward with proposals anytime during the year. We do have available space other times of the year besides the holidays. We recommend beginning the process in July for a Pop Up that begins in
November—this will give time for artisans and designers to create stock in time for shop opening. The actual lease signing occurs in October, with access to the space given two to three weeks before the shop opens.

How fully formed do the ideas need to be? Do you require a formal business plan or do you work with people to flesh out revenue models, etc.?
The initial proposal can be verbal and we do like the operator to describe the concept to us via direct conversation. After that, werequire a one page proposal along with details about the merchandise the
shop will carry, including product pictures. We do work with some pop-ups to refine business plans and P&Ls [profit and loss statements], especially those who are interested in becoming a permanent retail shop. We have many business support resources to call upon.

Are you open to other types of pop-ups besides retail, for instance pop-up restaurants? Or do you prefer that every pop-up at least have a retail element?
Our PDX Pop up shop program focuses on apparel, gifts items, and some art. Food and beverage tends to be difficult to support through a pop up shop because it may set off additional permitting needs (ie bathrooms) and make the process more complex and costly for both the property owner and the shop operator.

Additional info from Frisch is after the cut!

One of the things we like to stress to all people who are interested in pop ups are that the goal of this program is not only retail development, but its local economic development. Items should be designed and/or crafted locally. We are more interested in supporting designers and artisans who are interested in selling their own products. Importers, wholesalers, and/or resellers are not necessarily right for this project. In addition, we want to make sure shops are not carrying products already available downtown at an existing retailer.

Another note on the shops: The spaces available for this program tend to be large, which require large amounts of merchandise as well as plenty of staffing resources. The best pop up shop applicants are those
who represent a designer guild or collective. Businesses are required to have a Portland businesses license, a
state business license, as well as liability insurance required by the landlords.