Pop Up Revolution aims to bring retailers back to downtown Richmond

Pop Up Revolution aims to bring retailers back to downtown Richmond

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - There's a major effort underway to bring retail shopping back to empty store fronts in downtown Richmond. It's called Pop Up Revolution.

"This other location, we are pretty solidified with another design shop as well," Michael Sparks said, pointing to an empty storefront in the 500 block of East Grace Street.

Local marketing expert and co-founder of Richmond's Underground Kitchen, Sparks wants to fill downtown Richmond's empty store fronts with pop-up shops -- temporary stores that he hopes will succeed and stay permanently.

"There are two very strong boutiques in New York City who are very interested in coming here. And on local a level, there's a crazy outpour, everyone from a jeans maker to really cool hipster clothing," said Sparks.

He's been working with local leaders and representatives for the John Marshall Hotel and vacant buildings owned by Bernstein Enterprises at the corner of 5th Street and East Grace Street.

The plan is to get national and local stores to open pop-up shops in time for the expected 450,000 visitors arriving for the 2015 UCI Road Cycling Championships next September and stay open through the Christmas shopping season.

"We have an athletic company who's interested in doing a pop-up cycling and exercise studio here for the nine days and beyond right through Christmas," he said, pointing to another empty retail space.

Sparks says the owners of the buildings have agreed to fix up the storefronts so that they're move-in ready for the retailers. The buildings feature vast window space for displays. He says the second floor of a building on East Grace Street would also be open for retailers.

Sparks says he has some letters of intent, but can't reveal any retailer names yet. A website, social media, and special events would showcase the stores, restaurants and galleries in the area.

The project is looking for corporate sponsorship. Sparks hopes the pop up shops will find success downtown and decide to stay long term.

"I think this is the perfect opportunity to jump-start retail downtown again, and do it in a way that is clever and gets the community what they need downtown," said Sparks.

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