CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa- Two more "pop up" shops are popping up in downtown Cedar Rapids in early December.
The Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance began the pilot program last summer as a way to help fill more downtown storefront space. And the first participant ended the two-month free rent period by signing a lease to stay. The pop up shop program is set to run through the end of December.
The Enchanted Gift on 2nd Avenue S.E. opened in August and owner Sandra Rinderknecht said business was enough to convince her to stay as a paying tenant.
The two newest pop up shops are Dulcet Style and Craft and both will open the first week in December. Dulcet Style is an image consulting company owned by Tracy Gringer. She and her assistants do wardrobe assistance and personal shopping for clients out of an existing location in Coralville. Gringer said she has a number of clients in Cedar Rapids, so thinking about an expansion and a physical location here has come up before. But she probably wouldn't have acted, or taken the risk, without the "pop up" offer of two month's free rent to try a location before you buy.
"I always have to consider the budget I have to work with. Being able to come into a wonderful commercial space allows me to test the market," Gringer said.
Grainer will locate her Cedar Rapids office at 625 First Avenue S.E. Suite A. It will be a "by appointment" office rather than have set hours.
By contrast Craft, located at 205 2nd Avenue S.E., will open regular retail hours.
Erin Connolly will operate the art gallery that focuses on handmade projects by local artists. But aside from local craft items, she will also feature products offered by some well-known Iowa City-area retailers like Catherine's Boutique, Buzz Salon and Bluebird Café. She's partnering with those owners to test out the market in downtown Cedar Rapids for more one-of-a-kind shops.
"The reason they're interested in coming to Cedar Rapids is we already have a loyal client base in Cedar Rapids. So their thought is if you've been coming to us all these years why don't we see if we can drive up I-380 and come to see you," Connolly said.
Craft has set a grand opening for December 7th and Dulcet Style plans an official open house on December 12th.
Both owners say if things work out, they'll consider staying long term to become part of the downtown Cedar Rapids scene.
Scott Olson, a Cedar Rapids commercial realtor and city council member, estimates there is 15,000 to 20,000 square feet of empty storefront space in downtown Cedar Rapids now. Olson said the current pop up offer ends in December, but he wouldn't be surprised if economic alliance members try to convince building owners to do it again in the future to help encourage more new businesses downtown.