|Name Viroqua Chamber Main Street Holiday Pop-Up Program
Business Type Pop-up Store
Location Viroqua, Wisconsin
Products Sold & Niche Developed
The Viroqua Chamber Main Street Pop Up Shop initiative was a response to increasing vacancies in an otherwise active downtown. The program allowed people in the community with good ideas for lasting business models to occupy vacant storefronts free of charge for a three-month period.
How it got started
The Viroqua Chamber Main Street used a model that is used throughout the country that focuses on education of
entrepreneurs, mentoring and financial assistance in order to develop a program that would serve Viroqua. The program was designed two years ago as a creative answer to fill vacancies for holiday shopping.
Who it serves
The community comes together to support these new businesses through offering assistance during the start-up phase and then buying from these local retailers. This initiative has a long-term impact on the community by keeping the downtown vibrant and alive, while also creating a strong retail and service industry.
The idea of a pop-up shop is that it is there for a short period of time, to test the format and see if the format/business/service is something that the community is looking for or will respond to. Ideally, the business will thrive, if not, they fail fast and without a large amount of expense. Some of the buildings were not improved at all. In most cases the Chamber used buildings that needed some updating and change. It’s amazing what can be done when life is breathed into a space.
The Viroqua Chamber Main Street invested staff time and $1,500 initially. As a member funded non-profit organization, staff time is very valuable as is $1,500. In 2016 the chamber received a grant from Vernon County to assist with rent cost in the amount of $2,500. Nearly every property owner or landlord invested in the program by discounting rent and working with us to create an experience. Having foot traffic in vacant buildings is excellent for selling real estate or negotiating future leases, so the arrangement benefited all parties.
Reviewed by Emily Lutz, UW-Extension CCED