It used to be, when you would think of a "pop-up business," you would pretty much think of those Halloween stores that pop-up each September, or the fireworks tents each July, or the Christmas tree and wreath lots that appear each Thanksgiving.
But the pop-up is growing and temporary businesses or exhibitions are gaining traction in cities and towns where the Great Recession left many empty storefronts.
And the pop-up works on so many levels, both for the entrepreneur and the business districts and cities who can see new life being breathed into buildings and areas that have been way too quiet.
Brian Ellison is a business advocate for the City of Detroit, and as such he helps pop-up businesses navigate the world of permits and governmental regulations.
“There’s a pretty broad spectrum [of pop-ups]. What I’ve seen of late is retail,” he said. “But we are also seeing a lot at the community level around food.”
Ellison hopes that the pop-ups will provide opportunities for people try out running a business based on their passions, as well as attract more entrepreneurs to Detroit.
One of the people Ellison worked with was Angela Foster. Foster is a pastry chef who operated a pop-up coffee shop on Detroit’s east side for the project June on Jefferson. Before she started operating pop-ups, she worked as a pastry chef in a hotel.
“I opened my first pop-up last fall in the west village to simply meet my neighbors. It was just a block down the street. I didn’t do it for any other reason. That was it. I just wanted to know the community I was living in, but then it changed into something else,” Foster said. “It gave me a way to make a living doing pastry again, but by being with people and doing something really good.”
Foster said that while she has had a lot of success with her pop-ups, she is not sure if she would want to turn her coffee shop into a permanent business.
Ellison advises aspiring pop-up operators to be aware of safety regulations and to be creative. Foster had some advice as well.
“I think the biggest piece of advice I would have is just be you. Say everything you want to say and do everything you want to do,” she said. “It worked for me.”
-Michelle Nelson, Michigan Radio Newsroom
Listen to the full interview above.