Is your local downtown retail area struggling and filled with empty storefronts and dark windows? If so, then maybe you need a “pop-up” store to fill the void. In Pittsburgh, New York, San Francisco and Seattle, local governments are using temporary displays to make their downtown areas look more inviting to consumers and potential retailers[1]. In fact, Pittsburgh has recently debuted 15 pop-up storefronts and is offering artists and operators who move into the area up to $10,000 in start-up grants in an effort to “improve the appearance of the city’s downtown and stimulate the real estate and business market there.” In Seattle, a similar program has led to a variety of art exhibits, a pinball machine museum and a “boutique that sells perfume made from scents captured at city parks.”

Matthew Richter, manager of Storefronts Seattle, praises the operation as a success, saying that “you clean up some of the aesthetic problems and other problems [like a lack of foot traffic and too much crime] fall into line”[2]. And pop-up owners can sign leases just like any other retailer. In fact, according to Richter, two businesses that started out as pop-ups in the Seattle area have already signed long-term leases to continue using the property.

Do you think that this is a good idea for downtown revitalization?

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[1] http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2011/08/18/pop-ups-help-fight-blight-vacant-storefronts

[2] http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11228/1167629-53-0.stm?cmpid=news.xml