30 S G M A G A Z I N E | FA L L 2 0 1 8 SMALL BUSINESS From Pop-Ups to Storefront The pop-up trend seems to be abuzz in communities across the country. Often these seemingly unknown businesses appear suddenly, operate for a couple of days or sometimes for weeks, and then disappear. If done correctly, the pop- up experience can serve as a launching pad for a successful long-term business venture. Entrepreneurs can test the market before making an extended lease commitment or use space in a high traffic area to showcase a new product or service. In downtown Thomasville, the pop-up concept was used to jump-start several new businesses and encourage economic revitalization within the city’s Creative District. In an area known as “The Bottom,” a “The strategy was to get businesses in those spaces and then attract future tenants,” Arwood said. “It was also a way to revive the buildings so that other people who were looking for space could imagine themselves there. It wasn’t just about the businesses that went in there the first time, it was so visionary entrepreneurs could say, ‘I can definitely see my business here.’ Before, this was not an area that people were looking to open a business, but that is not the case today.” Creative Pop-Ups Emily McKenna opened You’re Maker during the early stages of the Creative District’s development. As part of the district’s plan to attract businesses that have a “maker’s vibe,” You’re Maker is a perfect fit. Described as a place to “make stuff,” the You’re Maker studio gives adults and children the opportunity to cultivate their creative side. “I grew up in a house where we made things,” McKenna said. “My mom sewed Thomasville Uses the Arts to Create Economic Growth We are a ‘maker’ community and the Creative District has provided a platform to really allow the artistic visionaries of our area thrive. - APRIL NORTON formerly struggling area of the downtown since segregation in the 1970s, the Creative District was established to attract businesses and enhance the arts. This initiative began to connect the formerly declining streets to the other thriving shopping and dining blocks of downtown. In 2014, as the city’s amphitheater was in the development stage, the Thomasville Center for the Arts (TCA) hosted FLAUNT: Pop It Up. The purpose of the public art exhibit centered on creating an awareness of the Creative District as a place for shopping, dining, and entertainment. “We worked with property owners to get the abandoned spaces cleaned up and ready for businesses to move in,” said Michele Arwood, executive director of TCA. “In many cases, the spaces had been abandoned for a very long time.” Arwood said there were approximately 20 pop-ups as part of the FLAUNT exhibit, some stayed several months before moving to another location, and many remained in the downtown area.