Project Pop-Up, a grant-funded initiative that provides local start-ups and artists discounted space to show and sell their stuff, is seeking candidates to set up shop at 91 Central St. in Wellesley Square. Several brands can share the space, and will gain access to marketing and other benefits through the program.
This won’t be the first time pop-ups have occupied 91 Central St., as an outfit called Pop91 did so in 2019.
According to Allison Yee, founder and CEO of UpNext (which is behind Project: Pop-Up), the Central Street space will be given a mini-makeover ready for tenants to move in for an initial season that will run from this November to February, 2023. Three additional seasons are anticipated for the rest of next year.
An effort was made last spring to start the venture in Wellesley, and good candidates were at the ready, but UpNext was unable to find the right space that fit the desired budget and timeframe, Yee says.
“We prioritize finding the right space that will set each brand up for success and create a positive experience for both the brands and the community. Since it took a bit longer to find the right storefront than originally anticipated, we decided to re-launch applications with more details specific to the location and new timeline, and reconfirm interest and availability. We are still honoring past Wellesley applicants in addition to this new round,” Yee says.
Project Pop-Up highlights success stories from its initial communities of Needham and Newton on its website, and touts expansion into Brookline, Burlington, Gloucester, Lexington, and Melrose. Pop-ups have ranged from Short Girl Boutique (apparel) in Needham to Create and Escape (home decor) in Gloucester to Hedgehog Belly (clothing, accessories) in Newton. During the 2021 pilot season, more than half of brands involved sought permanent space in the area after their pop-up run, with some extending their stay in the same location. Most of the businesses during the pilot were run by women, and many were owned by people of color.
Asked about what sorts of businesses might be good for Wellesley, Yee says “We welcome a wide range of businesses to apply—many of our strongest pop-ups pair retail goods with experiential offerings, which always creates an inviting atmosphere for shoppers. Packaged food options are a possibility, but this particular space will not be equipped for fresh food given the health code infrastructure required.”
The priority deadline for applying to open at the Wellesley space has passed, but requests are being accepted on a rolling basis.