Downtown holiday pop-up shopping event to expand
BY BRAVETTA HASSELL World Scene Writer
Saturday, November 03, 2012
11/03/12 at 4:54 AM
The Deco District Association wants to build on the success of last year's inaugural holiday pop-up shopping event and further develop downtown Tulsa's retail potential by continuing what it started: giving small business owners and artists the chance to take up shop during this year's event, which runs Nov. 26 to Dec. 28.
Libby Auld, president of the association, said the event is ideal for start-up businesses.
"Maybe you've been thinking about opening up a record shop and don't know where to start," Auld said. "Well this would be a good way to get free rent for the busiest shopping season of the year."
Auld, owner of Elote Cafe and The Vault, is accepting proposals from people interested in selling their wares in this year's Pop-Up Retail District.
Earlier this year, five of the event's 10 shops signed contracts to operate on the first floor of the Philcade building on a month-to-month basis. Of them, Bison & Bear, Made: The Indie Emporium Shop and Gallery on 6th continue to operate in permanent spaces in the historic building.
This spring, the Candy Castle, which also participated in last year's shopping event, opened a permanent shop in the former State Chamber of Oklahoma office. All four of those businesses and others will participate in this year's event, with Auld seeking to fill the Ponca City Savings & Loan and Enterprise buildings to keep the momentum going.
"If we could fill one more building this year permanently, that would be a huge success in my book and in the Deco District's, as well," she said.
Candy Castle owner Rachel Simons said that though business at her Boston Avenue shop has been slow yet steady, she couldn't be happier with her decision to keep her store's downtown location open past the holidays.
Staying meant continuing the vision Auld told her about last year with such enthusiasm.
"I just didn't want to pack up everything and leave," Simons said. "I felt like, if I did that, it was kind of like taking two steps backward from the progress we'd just made." Simons' larger store is located at Tulsa Promenade mall.
Being downtown means being part of a new and growing interest in the area. Simon said about 60 percent to 70 percent of her customers are downtown employees stopping in midday for a sweet treat. Then there are visitors from south Tulsa in the area who happen upon the shop. And there's a growing stream of out-of-towners, too.
"It's not a huge number yet," Simon said. "But we are starting to see some tourists, which is cool because it feels like Tulsa has something to offer."
They can come to eat, get drinks, go to the candy shop and go to Dwelling Spaces, Simons said. In coming downtown, "they had an experience. They got to go to Made and buy gifts at Bison and Bear," she said. "We're giving them a downtown experience."
That experience is why the Deco District Association was started in the first place, Auld said.
And the cost for others looking to join on that vision this season is "essentially free," Auld added.
Pop-up shopkeepers are asked to pay $250 in association fees and a building fee that they ultimately get back.
With the Ponca City Savings & Loan building available for lease, Auld thinks that of the thousands of people who will visit the pop-up shopping event this year, someone - be it a vendor or a visitor - will take an interest in further developing the space.
"There are some buildings downtown that are vacant, and it is not exciting to walk by a dusty, vacant building," Auld said. "It's so much better to walk by and see one that has life inside of it."
Back at the Philcade building, Bison & Bear's Joel and Michael Hitsman said the past year "has been great." The men's lifestyle store's success and partnership with other local businesses have given the brothers the ability to expand their reach into women's and modern home items.
Local artist William Franklin sees the growth potential in downtown, Auld said.
He's finishing up logistical details on a gallery and gift shop called "Decopolis," which Franklin said he hopes to open before the holidays. People have places to eat, so why not some retail, too? Franklin said.
The store will sell some of Franklin's work, as well as that of other local artists in addition to retro toys and home-decor items.
As the trend of creating convenience in urban spaces continues to pick up across the country, Auld thinks downtown Tulsa's building owners are taking note.
"I think that (those) who were previously wanting to put banks and law offices and things like that in their bottom floors are starting to realize that amenities are incredibly important and lifestyle shops are important," she said.
Kanbar Properties, which is collaborating with the Deco District Association on the shopping event, has been coordinating which pop-ups will be in its Park Center location. So far, it includes Theraganics, which returns to the event for a second year, and a collaborative Farm store that includes The Dog Dish, Great Harvest Bread and more. Books R Fun will also participate.
In helping coordinate the pop-up shopping event the second year in a row, Kanbar property manager Stefanie Whitener said the company isn't looking for anything long term to come out of it for the downtown area, just for it "to better our downtown environment in creating a happy holiday atmosphere."
Still, the success of last year's pop-up event and the prospect of what could happen this year offer Simons and Auld a glimpse of what could be possible in downtown Tulsa - a future as an attractive place and a draw for a mix of businesses.
Simons said she still gets excited about how the Candy Castle pop-up began and what it is now.
"I'm happy that we made the commitment when others said it wasn't necessarily a smart move," Simons said. "We're going to be here for as long as we can. I have no plans to move."
Libby Auld, president of the Deco District Association, said those interested in participating in this year's pop-up shopping event should contact her.
Auld said the association would love to see businesses that complement but don't compete with the retailers already signed up to participate in the event.
"We would love to see baby or kids items, women's apparel, kitchen gadgets - but we're open to anything," Auld said.
Costs: Tenants must provide liability insurance, sales tax permit, association dues of $250 and a refundable $500 building deposit. Association dues will cover marketing and signs for the Pop-Up District.
Time: The Deco District's Pop Up Retail District runs Nov. 26-Dec. 28. Tenants will need to be open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
For more information, contact Auld at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kanbar property manager Stefanie Whitener said two vacancies are left in the Park Center building for this year's pop-up shopping event. For more information, call her at 918-581-8023.
Original Print Headline: Holiday pop-up shopping to expand
Bravetta Hassell 918-581-8316
Raquel Ingle, sales associate at Candy Castle, organizes Skittles inside the store. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World
Rachel Simons sells various candies, including jelly beans (below) in her downtown shop, The Candy Castle, which sprang up after last year's pop-up event. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World