COLORADO SPRINGS — Pop-up shops in downtown Colorado Springs have become a holiday marketing tool in recent years. It fills empty storefronts for the important shopping season and brings fresh options for shoppers. There is another important, yet less noted element creating an economic opportunity,
Pop-ups are also a way to try out a business idea.
“If it doesn’t work out after three months you can walk away and say what a great experience or say my gosh this is my life adventure and dive in,” said the owner of Rocky Mountain Soap Market, Jennifer Ross. She started her business as a Pop-up several years ago and decided to stay in business beyond the one holiday.
Peri Bolts, the owner of Eclectic Co. also got her start with a holiday Pop-up. She says the program through the Colorado Springs Downtown Partnership helped reduce risks of giving her business plan a try. "Landlords want three years or a five-year lease and you can't do that if you've never tested the concept before, if you've never tested the area." There is an investment, but with a three to four-month window, if success is not happening losses are minimized.
Both business owners are not only still in business, but their humble Pop-up beginnings have grown into successful expanding businesses.
Eclectic Co is a business based on local artisan and customer interaction. "Smell, taste, feel," said Bolts. Within the one business, there are dozens of micro businesses where local makers produce their own products and then offer them at Eclectic Co.
When Eclectic Co. started there were 20 artisans. A wait list quickly grew. "We got to the point where we had about 80 artists on the wait list, and we said, I think we can handle another store in this community." A second store was opened in Old Colorado City. Just months ago another store opened in Littleton, Colorado. Between three stores there are now close to 160 artisans selling through Eclectic Co.
"First year it was myself and my daughter primarily and that was it," said Ross. Since its start, Rocky Mountain Soap Market moved a couple doors down to double its floor space and now employs nearly 25. "We've certainly morphed into something much larger, much grander." The soap and bath products created by Ross have also been picked up by boutiques in multiple luxury Colorado hotels and can be found in some grocery stores.