Brick OTR, Cincy Pop Shop give entrepreneurs and artists big bang for small bucks

Pop-up shops offer alternative to long-term leases

CINCINNATI – Pop-up shops have been springing up in Cincinnati, giving entrepreneurs the opportunity to temporarily rent space instead of committing to long-term rental agreements.

While the concept isn't new, more small-business owners and entrepreneurs are utilizing pop-up shops to not only sell products and raise brand awareness but also to test business ideas in real time.

Brick OTR understands the benefits pop-up shops can offer. Established in 2014 by the people who founded MORTAR, an entrepreneurial hub focused on improving Cincinnati neighborhoods, Brick OTR is a space dedicated to the pop-up shop concept. Located at 1327 Vine St., Brick OTR brands itself not just as a constantly changing space, but also as a place for opportunity in its purest form. It provides entrepreneurs a space to showcase their businesses by renting by the weekend, week or month.

Over the past three years, the eclectic 400-square-foot facility has been a temporary home to a range of businesses from artists, apparel companies and makers to those who offer consumer services.

"Typically, we see a lot of lifestyle businesses, but the space is open to anyone in the area that has an exciting idea or is currently running a business," said manager Victoria Sumners. 

Artists, entrepreneurs and makers are all potential users of Brick OTR’s pop-up spaces. (Photo provided)

Those interested in reserving the space can visit Brick OTR's website to complete an application. A shared calendar lets them choose any available weekend, week or month to host their pop-up shop. Once a date is chosen, Brick OTR promotes the shop through its social media accounts and a weekly online newsletter.

Prices range from $200 to $1,500 for a month and include wi-fi, electricity, heat and air conditioning. In addition, MORTAR can provide entrepreneurs assistance with their pop-up shop from start to finish, including workers.

"We've had a lot of great feedback from those who've utilized our space in the past," Sumners said. "Often, those who've used Brick OTR will hold more than just one pop-up shop."

The City of Cincinnati has jumped on the pop-up shop bandwagon, recently initiating Cincy Pop Shop. The city's website states that it's "beyond excited to bring together entrepreneurs, artists, makers and small businesses with local property owners." 

Pop Shop is a vital part of the city's retail action plan for the Central Business District. The program, rolled out in 2016, creates opportunities for future business owners who find it challenging to find accessible, affordable and flexible spaces that allow them to create, expand and nurture their small businesses with low risk.

But the program isn't just benefiting local entrepreneurs. City officials hope Pop Shop will lead to the development of long-term lease prospects vacant retail spaces throughout Downtown. 
To learn more about Brick OTR, visit brickpopupshops.com. To learn more about Cincy Pop Shop, visit choosecincy.com.

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