By Brenlee Coates
The pop-up shop trend continues in Winnipeg with 40 diverse artists forming the Exchange Uporium at 264 McDermot Ave. The shop will be open seven days a week all summer, ending its run on Sept.20.
The Exchange Uporium is the first initiative of CentreVenture’s Pop Up Shop Hop, or PUSH, a year-long pilot program rolled out at its annual general meeting.
“CentreVenture contacted W.E.S.T. (Winnipeg Etsy Street Team) because they knew that they had a large group of people that were Etsy sellers that were online, and they thought that maybe they would want this opportunity to be in a storefront,” says Patti Henderson, owner of WildWoodRose Vintage.
About half of the artists involved with the Uporium are affiliated with W.E.S.T.; the rest were approached by W.E.S.T. members Henderson and In Love With The Past vintage furniture curator Eve Wowchuk to fill out the store.
They aimed to engage more artists who create their own original designs, and tracked down an impressive roster. Julie Pedersen Designs’ well-known handmade mukluks are featured among newcomers like Oui Bijoux’s jewelry and Culture Confidential’s fashion designs.
Though her designs are prominent, Julie Pedersen handcrafts her mukluks and couldn’t maintain its quality and unique touch if she were to mass sell them. “I can’t afford to go wholesale,” says Pedersen. “This is great for artists because it gives you a lot more hands-on experience.”
Pedersen sells her designs at trade shows and online, but she doesn’t often get the chance to have her designs available in a retail space to the public. She was also keen on the opportunity to mould the look of her setup and design her space in the store with much more creative freedom and a better esthetic than a trade show offers.
The store is staffed by one full-time employee, Angela Wells of Oui Bijoux, and vendors will be on a rotating schedule on a volunteer basis to help man the store and be available for interaction with customers.
“We have charged each vendor enough money so we can have Angela here and have the startup costs,” says Henderson.
Most of the vendors, she added, were eager to get involved because it would provide the opportunity to sell their goods without having to physically sell them themselves.
“A lot of people have day jobs and they can’t throw themselves into it,” says Henderson.
Artists also sometimes run into bartering when people are intimidated by the prices, but the pop-up shop will allow them to test their goods in the downtown market based on the price they deem fair.
PUSH aims to attract more shoppers downtown by filling vacant downtown storefronts under these low-risk terms for artists. Its hope is that the retailers will be successful and may see potential for long-term engagement in the downtown area.
The Exchange Uporium is open from 11 to 7 Monday to Saturday and 12 to 5 on Sundays until Sept.20.