‘Pop-up shop’ brings retail space to local entrepreneurs

A collection of local venders and home-based businesses have been given an empty storefront in downtown Pullman to get their goods out and increase foot traffic for the holiday season.

The pop-up shop event, organized by the Pullman Chamber of Commerce, has taken place several times over the last few weeks to keep Christmas shopping local and to give businesses a chance to have face-to-face interaction with consumers.

 “Ideally, each vendor is using their resources to promote the event and bring in guests,” said Karen L. Johnston, a Premier Designs Jewelry independent consultant. “By grouping together it is hoped that each of us will meet more people than we could by ourselves.”

 Between 15 and 20 venders attend each event, selling products such as kitchenware, make-up, jewelry, accessories, snacks, furniture, handmade clothes and consignment items.

Many of those businesses normally sell their products at farmers markets, house parties or exclusively online.

 “What’s unique is that a lot of it varies,” said Alexandria Anderson, Chamber of Commerce event coordinator. “The consumer can expect something different each time.”

 Coming together in a market-style setting gives sellers the opportunity to meet customers they often work with online and make more connections for marketing future products.

 “My work is unique and of high quality, and I believe that it sells itself, but being able to reach out individually to the public and speak with my customers is a great experience,” said Keith Tyler, vendor and owner of Palouse CraftWerks.

 Both Johnston and Tyler were able to use this event to make personal connections with customers and possible future promoters of their products.

 “Seeing it in person is much better than an image in a catalog and far better than a picture on a computer,” Johnston said.

 Downtown Pullman struggles with a bit of an identity crisis, Johnston said. Most businesses do not have extended retail hours to justify consistent shopping like a department store or shopping mall and, therefore, lose a lot of potential traffic.

 Johnston believes that if downtown had more retail, specifically creative storefronts and venues, the shopping local trend would continue into the future.

 “I believe that the direct connection between the artist and the customer is a big benefit of the push to shop locally, and furthermore to foster existing and new local businesses,” Tyler said. 

The last Shop Local event is planned during the Pullman Holiday Fest on Dec. 5, where Santa, carolers and other holiday activities will also be downtown for locals to enjoy.

“My hope is that this event would be a first step towards a collaborative environment,” Tyler said. “Where local business owners, both brick and mortar as well as market-type vendors such as myself, work together to imbue the passion we each have for our respective products and services and realize the potential of the downtown area.”