Typically the province of large urban areas, pop-up retail is coming to North Haven, thanks to a collaboration among three North Haven residents.
The group's initiative, Highly Recommended's Pop Up, plans to open at 84 Washington Ave. at mid-month. Small businesses and artisans can rent the space and sample the town's retail market for a day, a weekend, a week or even a month.
"I thought it was an amazing idea for retailers and a great revitalization for empty stores and neighborhoods," said Cat Dubail, a partner who first became aware of the concept last year. "Pop-ups are definitely something we are starting to see in cities, but I love the idea of bringing it to my hometown of North Haven.
"I like to shop local and support local businesses, and I believe there are many like-minded people," she said. "North Haven has empty storefronts, and I'm sure we have the small business people and entrepreneurs to fill them."
Implementing the pop-up concept in North Haven began in earnest in June, when Dubail was looking for ways to enhance a business-to-business referral group, . Seeking to set the group apart from other networking groups, she thought to herself, " 'What if we had space to offer members at a great rate and short-term options? That would be something no other networking group was offering.' "
And although the pop-up store that is opening will not be limited to members of the North Haven networking group (members, however, will receive a discount), the name for the venture, Highly Recommended's Pop Up, pays homage to it.
For her variant on flash retailing, Dubail quickly found two collaborators in Realtor Kim Rossi and contractor Lou Coppola, and also a firm supporter in .
"He loved the idea," said Dubail of North Haven's top elected official, "and without his support this wouldn't have gotten so far, so fast. He made invaluable introductions for me with several property owners. Within about two weeks, we had this space."
According to Dubail, Rossi, who is a real estate agent with , has been handling the rental issues and created the lease agreement. As a graphic designer with the online business lovebabyjewels.com, Dubail has taken charge of creating the pop-up logo, signage and interior design. As the owner of Under Construction Contractors, Coppola has been busy fitting out the space.
"Washington Avenue is a very hot spot," Coppola said.
As the official outfitter, Coppola said he removed some corrugated metal from the walls, repainted the floor and painted the walls an off-white in a space that had been a skateboard shop.
"We just brightened it up so that it kind of gives [the pop up shops] a blank canvas."
For the occasional table or chair in the space, Highly Recommended's Pop Up is relying on Urbanminers LLC. That company, according to Dubail, plans to bring a small selection of its used, salvaged and deconstructed furniture to the shop on Sept. 5.
An anchor tenant in the rear of the space is Mona Mia Too, a retail and wholesale jeweler, originally of Miami. In North Haven, Mona Mia previously operated on Sackett Point Road. According to Dubail, owner Cheri Gibson would like to open her jewelry space on Sept. 15.
"It's up in the air," said Dubail of the official opening date of Highly Recommended's Pop-Up, although she said the three partners are aiming for mid-September. "It's just been a whirlwind to get this place ready."
She said that, in addition to welcoming small business, she was "definitely interested" in starting a craft night at the shops. As such, she is trying to reach out to persons in the area who are part of the online brand Etsy. She is also wondering if a craftsperson could teach at the shops one night a month.
And although the primary advantage to the pop-up concept is its flexibility, Dubail also emphasized the virtues to the pop-up venture's location and price.
"Aside from the location, visibility and a daily 22,000 car traffic count, I think we've really priced the space reasonably and with extreme flexibility in terms of length of stay. We really want people to be able to get in and have an opportunity to get their products--or services--to the public and get lots of name recognition," Dubail said.
"For example, we are charging $50 a day Monday through Thursday. That's basically what a small craft fair charges for a 10-foot table, so it's do-able. I think another attractive option is that the space is furnished, so there is plenty of staging areas for products, chalk boards on the walls for shop announcements and some seating.
Said Dubail to all small business owners: "You really just need to bring yourself, your product or service and your sign."
Anyone interested in renting a pop-up shop should contact Kim Rossi at 203.215.0987.