Pop-up program shows rise in confidence among shoppers

(photo courtesy of St'Artup317)

INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) — The vice president of Indianapolis economic development at the Indy Chamber says this year’s St’Artup317 event has shown an increase in retail shopping as the recovery from the pandemic continues. The pop-up initiative, which began in 2018, matches small businesses with underutilized storefronts in downtown Indy for the month of May, with 30 businesses participating this year. Portia Bailey-Bernard says the program not only benefits businesses, but landlords who have struggled to keep retail space occupied, especially during the pandemic.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Bailey-Bernard said the program intentionally partners with brands and businesses that otherwise would not be able to secure retail space for the month.

“This year, all 10 of our spots are commerce-driven and they’re open six days a week to the public, which is great and showing more people are coming out, they’re vaccinated and feeling more comfortable coming into these locations,” said Bailey-Bernard. “Season four, despite COVID, we have more locations, longer hours and people are coming out and visiting these locations. So, it’s an exciting time. It’s great for our landlords. It’s great for our tenants and it’s great for the overall economic development within the city.”

This year’s event features businesses throughout the downtown area, including the 16 Tech innovation district, City Market, Fountain Square, and the “Mile Square” at the heart of downtown.

Bailey-Bernard says the program gives businesses that wouldn’t normally be able to afford these types of retail spaces the ability to “try before they buy.”

“All of the spaces are in pretty good condition and they don’t require a large upfront expense,” she said. “Our hope is that the month-long pop-up provides enough metrics and feedback to generate more long-term leasing activity for our first-floor commercial storefronts and gives these small businesses the opportunity to figure out what’s next for them and whether these storefronts provide a long-term leasing possibility for them.”

St’Artup317 also launched a bonus season in March for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament, which Bailey-Bernard says was a success. She says the program has also put a spotlight on diverse businesses.

“Sixty-five percent of our business owners are female and 55% are Black,” she said. “So, we’re reaching minorities. We’re reaching women and it’s providing them this amazing opportunity to put their brands out there. Essentially, St’Artup317 is a short-term retail incubator and it’s designed to maximize exposure for these vendors in the month of May.”

The initiative will continue throughout the month. You can learn more about St’Artup317 by clicking here.


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