By Nita Johnson
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Do you have a product or business idea but don’t have the place to promote it?
A new program launched by London Downtown may be just the answer you need.
Chris Robinson, executive director of London Downtown, proposed the idea of Pop Up London to members of the London-Laurel County Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, encouraging them to help local entrepreneurs to market their products.
“Pop-Up London is an initiative to discover entrepreneurs looking for opportunities to partner their products or services with existing retail businesses or vacant spaces,” Robinson said.
“Pop up” products can be marketed in existing businesses and help individuals to market their products before making a long-term investment in a storefront that might not be successful. Robinson gave several examples of partnerships between businesses that have proven successful, including the art of Emily Lackey in Carousel Florist.
“Emily Lackey leased the loft of Carousel Florist, but when she moved to Chattanooga, Tenn., she marketed her art in Carousel,” Robinson said.
“Another example is when Weaver’s (Hot Dogs) expanded, they wanted to add deserts to their menu. They were worrying about how they would find time to make deserts,” Robinson explained. “Parrott’s Pies and Pastries is located a couple of miles north of London in the Pittsburg community, away from downtown London. So now they make deserts and bring them to Weaver’s and Weaver’s sells them.”
“Pop Up” stores may be a temporary business, a one-day sale, or shared space with another business. London Downtown will be seeking local bakers, artists, designers, and other creative persons to participate in the venture.
“Pop-Up businesses, businesses within a business, and sharing space are a big trend in retail right now. This will be an ongoing initiative as we attempt to build a list of people who are interested in these concepts and have a product that we can help promote,” Robinson said.
For more information on how you can have a successful Pop-Up business, please contact Chris Robinson at (606) 862-8841 or email@example.com.
Sharing space: How it works
Judd and Kim Weaver, owners of Weaver’s Hot Dogs, are enthused about their partnership with Parrott’s Pies and Pastries.
“When we took over the business, I made cakes sporadically,” Kim said, “but people wanted them all the time. I work full time and just didn’t have time to make them.”
But wanting to please their customers, the Weavers decided to contact Sheila Parrott to see if she would be willing to supply the freshly-made desserts daily for the downtown business.
“A week later, she was bringing fresh homemade cakes, pies and candy to us,” she said.
The home baked goodies are sold within Weaver’s restaurant, but are sold at the price set by Parrott.
“For us, we don’t make a profit, but we are providing something our customer wants and giving her (Parrott) some exposure by letting people see her desserts,” Weaver said.
“It has definitely helped our business, too” she continued. “If a business sees a need they are not able to meet - like us with fresh homemade goods - even if it doesn’t make a profit for you, at least give it a try. It has worked for us.”
Jayna Alexander, co-owner of Carousel Florist and Gifts, feels the same way with selling paintings by local artist Emily Lackey.
“It has absolutely helped our business,” Alexander said. “She is here one day a month for appointments and we can sell her paintings if she isn’t here.”
While the arrangement has been successful for the Hill Street businesses, Alexander said others wishing to follow suit should be fully aware of the commitment of all persons involved.
“This is not a vendor’s mall type environment or a consignment,” she said. “It is a lease on space."