Testing a new business with a temporary Detroit storefront has worked for "a slew of pop-up retailers from downtown to the neighborhoods," Michael Martinez reports in a Detroit News roundup.
Small businesses are starting out with temporary openings before committing full-time. The method allows owners to test their products in unsure markets, find what size stores work best and learn about all aspects of running a business — all while having the flexibility to change.
“The pop-up approach is hot right now,” said Michael Forsyth, business development manager for Revolve Detroit. He has helped pop-ups find space throughout the city. “We treat them like experiments. You’re testing a business model live in real time. . . .“For a lot of first-time entrepreneurs, it’s a real-life crash course in terms of testing the market, and testing the lifestyle, too,” he said. “Small business is not for the faint of heart.”
Martinez cites varied success stories, including the Spielhaus Toys pop-up that used a Woodward storefront provided by D:hive last year. Owner Kurt Spiels, now looking for a space to rent nearby, tells The News:
“Every day there were little lessons I learned. The biggest was that there’s a market in downtown Detroit for retailers.”
Owners of these other ventures also learned they can make it here:
- Love Travels Imports: Locally made and imported items are sold at 19452 Livernois, which says it is "making a difference for people and communities, handmade piece by handmade piece."
- Detroit Fiber Works: A neighbor at 19359 Livernois, this shop was founded in September by fiber artists Mandisa Smith and Najma Wilson with a hand from Revolve Detroit's "Avenue of Fashion" revitalization project on the northwest side. It sells woven clothes, decor accents and hosts classes in fiber art techniques each Sunday from 2-4 p.m.
- 1701 Bespoke: Tom Daguanno and J. Max Schmidt make custom suits, shirts, jackets, trousers and tuxedos at the Chrysler House after working from space at the First National Building and earlier in a Bedrock Real Estate storefront.
- Rock Paper Scissors: After trying a downtown pop-up, the Ann Arbor stationery store is hunting for a longer-term space along Woodward. “The energy of the people in downtown Detroit was fun to be around,” owner Lisa Roberts tells The News.
- Spielhaus Toys: Holiday season sales were so strong, Spiels says, that he had to renew inventory repeatedly. He plans to open near Woodward by spring.