GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) — “We’re standing at Main Street Square, 1270 Main Street,” Connor Kosmoski of Kos Management said, “We are kind of in the heart of downtown Green Bay.”
The space Kosmoski described is available for applicants to Downtown Green Bay’s Pop-Up Shop Program.
“It’s kind of a win-win situation,” Kosmoski said. “We can help out a business get started on their feet, and then it could potentially flourish into like a long-term lease agreement if that’s something that they would see fit.”
The program offers three months of free rent to small business owners looking to get their start in downtown Green Bay.
Participating building managers offer up vacant space for the program.
“They pick from a pool of applicants, which is really great, they can find someone who really fits their vibe and their location,” Sally Ebeling, Progam & Business Development Manager for Downtown Green Bay Inc said. “They can meet the people beforehand and see if it’s going to be a good fit.”
Right now, there’s one pop-up shop in business as a part of the program: ‘On To The Next,’ a clothing boutique currently located in retail space at the Hotel Northland.
Samantha Mandich, owner of On To The Next, says the program has been life-changing.
“It allowed me to turn my passion into a business and to add something new to the downtown environment,” she said. “I am so grateful to be a part of this program and have the opportunity to operate my luxury resale boutique inside the beautiful and historic Hotel Northland.”
Organizers say they hope to bring more shopping to the area.
“We don’t have a lot of retail on this side of the river,” Ebeling said, “so we’re really hoping to find places, to find businesses that want to fill some of these vacant spaces.”
One of those businesses was T&M Inspirations.
Owner Sandy VanBeavers reflected on her experience with the program, “It helped me to understand, you know, what goes into business. It’s not as easy as just putting up some things and a price tag.”
VanBeavers has decided to move on from her downtown location.
She’s setting up shop in October at the Bay Park Square Mall.
The space downtown might not have worked out for her business, but VanBeavers says the experience was invaluable.
“It is the best way to know if it’s something for you without getting yourself in too deep,” she said.
Ebeling told Local 5 that the program is designed to take some of the risk out of opening a storefront.
“Maybe they’re business owners that wouldn’t have taken that chance before,” she explained, “and it might give them the encouragement to open their shop after that, that they wouldn’t have before without the program.”
Giving business owners a shot, and vacant store windows new life.
“It gives people more of an attraction,” Kosmoski said. “‘Oh, I want to check this out,’ because there’s more life if you will.”