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Downtown Partnership Wants Pop-up Shops to Fill Vacant Storefronts

Got an idea for a new shop but don't have the startup money?

Downtown Partnership of Baltimore is looking for proposals to set up temporary shops, or pop-up stores, in unused first-floor space in downtown buildings.

The initiative, dubbed OPERATION: Storefront, aims to connect available first-floor building space with entrepreneurs, restaurateurs, artists and nonprofits. Successful applicants will get up to $10,000 to start and operate their business. Funding for the program comes from a property tax surcharge on some downtown commercial businesses that went into effect July 1.

Proposals for the pop-up stores are due Nov. 22. A panel organized by Downtown Partnership will review the entries and select those that are the best fit for any given site.

Pop-up stores have risen in popularity as a relatively low-risk way to fill space as retail vacancies have risen amid a lackluster economy.

The economy has forced some shops to close or developments to stall in downtown Baltimore. A good way to fill those spots is by encouraging entrepreneurs and artists to open temporary stores, says Mackenzie Paull, retail and economic development manager for Downtown Partnership.  

And hopefully, with financial and other assistance, some of these stores will turn into thriving, permanent businesses.

"We're hoping they can blossom into self-sustaining enterprises," Paull says.

Downtown Partnership will help startups negotiate leases and get the necessary permits and licenses from the city.

The area that the downtown advocacy group is looking to fill is bounded by Center Street to the north, President Street to the east, Pratt Street to the south and Greene Street to the west. Priority will be given to proposals that seek to fill space on Charles Street between Lombard and Franklin, and Calvert Street, between Lombard and Baltimore.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Mackenzie Paull, Downtown Partnership of Baltimore
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