In less than a week, Mi Reina Mobile Boutique will ‘officially’ be out in the public. I have had this vision of having a mobile boutique in Tucson for a while now, but I also had another goal in mind: hosting pop-up events throughout the year! Two of my passions are: 1.) I like to bring community together and 2.) I love to imagine the possibilities of unused or vacant buildings and space.
Having grown up on the southwest part of Tucson, I have witnessed both the economic growth and neglect on this geographic region. I often drive by empty lots and infrastructure and dream of what businesses or resources can be inserted into these lonely spaces. I remember thinking of the endless possibilities for the vacant and distressed buildings, like the empty Circle K gas stations and parking lots and the value it could have on a community. As an urban planner and social justice change agent, I understand the stigma neighborhoods on the south and west sides of town have dealt with. While growing up, it was often frustrating for me to not see an emphasis of economic development initiatives being pushed forward for the people who live in this area. As a result, the money and wealth from people living on the south/southwest side of town, often gets ‘moved’ into other areas of Tucson. Thus, the ‘wealthier sides’ of towns receives the benefits of people investing or shopping in their location. I remember one of my professors at the UofA told me, “people don’t shop on the other side of 22nd that is why developers don’t invest there.” I left walking away upset but I returned the next day and showed him statistics of all the shoppers spending money at (that time) the newly built Tucson Spectrum commercial center on Irvington Road. He seemed uninterested. Maybe because he wasn’t vested in this side of town like I am. Still, whenever I come visit my hometown, I see hope and innovate ideas stemming out from our pueblo. During a train ride home from Tucson to Los Angeles this past summer, I was thinking of where shall I attempt to host this so-called pop-up event? While on the train, I started to read the Tucson newspaper and I came across an article that caught my attention. Not only because I personally know the founders, but because of what the article was discussing. It was great to read about organic leaders who started their own development group, The Common Group (http://thecommongroup.com). This group is investing into rehabbing distressed commercial buildings on the south and southwest sides and converting them into stores and restaurants. Jesus Bonillas said, “We saw a huge opportunity, essentially a diamond in the rough, on the south side. If you do demographic studies on the south side, you will find there is no money, so retailers are reluctant to move there. It’s our job to show the true economic opportunities as well as how dedicated the consumers are to supporting (stores) in their neighborhood.” [Article Headline Below]
It was refreshing to read about people from the neighborhood, going back and investing in their community. When I returned back to Los Angeles, I pitched the pop-up idea with Jesus and told him that I would like to help co-host a Pop-Up Holiday Market. Fortunately, he was on board and gave me the support to hold our first pop-up outside the parking lot on one of their commercial buildings: 702 W. Irvington Road. But you might ask yourself, what is a Pop-Up Market?
Pop-Up Markets or Pop-Up Shops are taking over the retail world and rethinking traditional brick-and-mortar and big-box stores, but what exactly are stores, or in this case, markets that pops up? . A “pop-up shop” or “pop-up market” is a short-term, temporary retail event that is “here today, gone tomorrow.” Pop-up retail is the temporary use of physical space to create a long term, lasting impression with potential customers. Pop-Up Markets can last from a 1 day event to several months. You can usually find them in high foot traffic areas such as city centers, malls, vacant buildings and busy streets. From art to fashion to crafts and food, Pop-Up Shops are exciting because they create short-term stores that are just about as creative as they are engaging. They can be pitched during holidays or events, to launch new products, generate awareness or test an idea or location. Pop-Up Shops and Markets come in all shapes and sizes.
So, who can start these Pop-Up Shops and Markets?
The short answer is everyone. Big-name brands (ie. Target, Gap) have tested hosting pop-up products in their stores. At the same time, local artists, makers and fashion designers have also become increasingly popular in the Pop-Up scene. Even mobile trucks for food, designer fashion and vintage housewares have been spotted around cities like New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
For our first Pop-Up Holiday Market, “we” are a group of local Tucsonans who are small businesses owners, aspiring entrepreneurs, artists and community leaders coming together on the south side of town to create a pop-up in the parking lot of 702 W. Irvington Road.
Our vision is to highlight local, small businesses for ‘Small Business Saturday,’ which is always on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Small Business Saturday is a counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which feature big box retail and e-commerce stores respectively. The goal is to support and highlight local, small businesses in the community. For our Pop-Up Holiday Market all of the vendors are from Tucson. The majority are from the south and southwest side of town and care for the area. We have diverse vendors participating this year, from homemade hand soap, beauty bar, jiu-jitsu station to holiday wreaths. Moreover, our event will also highlight local nonprofits, such as Make Way for Books, Viva Performing Arts Center and Community Investment Corporation (CIC). There will also be food vendors available and Selfie Station with Santa+Toy Drive. Take a look at the site map and list of all of our wonderful vendors! Hope to see you on November 26th!