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What is Project: Pop-Up?

Project: Pop-Up is a publicly-funded initiative created to revitalize storefronts and commercial hubs. With financial and professional support, Project: Pop-Up offers retailers, designers, artists and food purveyors a chance to take their concepts for a brick and mortar test drive.

Project: Pop-Up Pilot Program

Over 100 emerging brands and entrepreneurs applied to the pilot program of Project: Pop-Up in the summer of 2021. Over 15 brands were thoughtfully selected for the opportunity. These forward-thinking businesses popped up for two-three months at a subsidized rate and were provided with a suite of resources to help seed their success. The pilot pop-up brands represented a local and diverse mix of business owners, with 100% locally-owned, 80% woman-owned, and 40% BIPOC-owned.

94% of the brands continued to actively grow through brick and mortar retail channels. 53% have converted from pop-up to permanent tenancy. Newton, Needham, and Melrose were thrilled to welcome entrepreneurs, artists, eateries and more to their downtown districts to fill otherwise dormant storefronts with vibrancy and vitality while driving traffic to each area’s core of locally-owned businesses.

What’s Next for Project: Pop-Up?

Our pilot season was just the beginning! In 2023, Project: Pop-Up is expanding to new municipalities through ARPA funding and other grant-funded initiatives. New Project: Pop-Up locations in Burlington, Melrose, Lexington, Gloucester, Wellesley, Wakefield and beyond are underway!

  • What is Project: Pop-Up?

    Project: Pop-Up is a grant-funded, public-private partnership dedicated to supporting local innovation and entrepreneurship. Through retail incubator storefronts and the supportive infrastructure we’ve built into our DNA, the initiative is currently activating retail spaces across Massachusetts and preparing for expansion around New England and beyond.

  • Why was Project: Pop-Up created?

    Project: Pop-Up was created to revitalize communities with fresh concepts while supporting local brands ready to test drive brick and mortar spaces. With a “rising tide floats all ships” mindset, each incubator uplifts an ecosystem within its community. Local entrepreneurs and their fledgling businesses, municipalities driving economic development efforts, landlords seeking active, vibrant uses for their vacant spaces and consumers looking for exciting new businesses to discover each benefit from the initiative’s approach.

  • When did Project: Pop-Up first launch?

    Project: Pop-Up first launched in June 2021 when the COVID-19 pandemic was at its peak and the negative impact on local retail was being felt across communities far and wide. Initially piloted across five storefronts in Newton and Needham, Massachusetts with grant funding through the Massachusetts Office of Business Development (MOBD), the initiative gained immediate traction and quickly began expanding across the Commonwealth to Melrose, Burlington, Wellesley, Lexington, Gloucester and beyond. More than 20 emerging brands have popped up to date. The majority have been met with tremendous local support and chosen to continue popping up nearby or converted to permanent tenancy.

  • What type of support does Project: Pop-Up provide?

    Each selected brand is provided with resources to navigate the pop-up process at a significantly reduced cost. All brands receive robust marketing, public relations and social media support, rent stipends, resource guides and expert guidance. Most brands are also provided with event and signage stipends, flexible-use fixtures and buildout support.

    While funding varies by location, Project: Pop-Up is on a mission to make each space as accessible and turnkey as possible, lowering the barriers to entry for emerging brands and entrepreneurs to test out brick and mortar spaces.

  • How long do the pop-ups run?

    The majority of Project: Pop-Up seasons span a timeframe of two-four months. Some may have the opportunity to extend beyond the original season, or even take over a space long-term. Project: Pop-Up brands often establish proof of concept through their experiences and seek out longer term storefronts in the same community. We work closely with our municipal and development partners to help open doors and pave the way for that opportunity whenever possible.

  • What types of businesses are likely to be offered space through Project: Pop-Up?

    Project: Pop-Up invites independent brands and retailers, artists, makers, galleries and other unique cultural or bespoke experiences to apply. Most locations can also accommodate packaged food offerings and select spots can accommodate fresh food and cafe uses. Entrepreneurial and forward-thinking concepts are encouraged. Historically disadvantaged businesses are given priority consideration. If you think your business would add a unique and compelling value to the community, we encourage you to apply here.

  • How do I apply? How do you select which businesses pop up?

    Each Project: Pop-Up opportunity is launched via an online application with a priority deadline and continues accepting rolling applications, space permitting. We undertake a collaborative selection process through which all partners and stakeholders have an opportunity to review the pool of applicants, taking into account unique local space use/zoning restrictions and targeted opportunities, along with potential pairings for shared spaces. Offers are extended via email to commence the process as early as possible prior to launch. Businesses not selected for the initial season will be kept up-to-date on future opportunities. Learn more and apply here.

  • Can Project: Pop-Up spaces be shared?

    Yes! Sharing space—and resources—is one of the best ways to maximize your pop-up experience. Project: Pop-Up fields applications from both brands seeking their own standalone space and those looking to collaborate with others. We put our matchmaking skills to work and pair up synergistic brands whenever possible.

  • How can I make my application stand out?

    Let your passion for what you do shine through in your application. Share what excites and inspires you in the local community and why your concept would be a strong addition to its landscape.

    Being flexible with what you’re willing to consider (i.e. location, shared vs. standalone space, rental structure, etc.) will also increase your chances of securing a spot.

  • I have available retail space. How can I host a pop-up?

    We are always looking for forward-thinking landlord and development partners. Pop-Ups are a multifaceted way to activate vacant storefronts, engage with the community and incubate retail concepts for longer-term occupancy. Drop us a line at hello@poppingupnext.com to connect.

  • What’s UpNext?

    UpNext is the company working behind the scenes to empower each Project: Pop-Up initiative. The UpNext team has extensive experience guiding entrepreneurs through the pop-up process, liaising with public and private stakeholders, and working to coordinate the moving parts that go into making each location a vibrant addition to the local community.

  • Is the Project: Pop-Up team onsite during our pop up?

    No, when you sign your license agreement the pop-up space becomes your own space for retail experimentation! While you are the day-to-day, onsite operator, our team is always available for extra support and to answer questions as they arise.

  • Will I need insurance? Anything else I need to know?

    Yes. Insurance requirements vary slightly by location, but you will need to obtain a business liability policy if you don’t already have one. Upon acceptance into a Project: Pop-Up space, we’ll provide you with guidelines and recommended insurance providers accustomed to working with pop-ups of all types, along with lots of other tips and tricks to help you navigate your pop-up experience and bring your storefront dreams to life.

Want to apply to be a part of Project: Pop-Up (and be notified when Project: Pop-Up comes to your area)?

Project: Pop-Up is always popping up in new areas and looking for innovative brands who are interested in growing their businesses!

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