COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Several businesses opened Saturday in downtown Colorado Springs as part of a program to fill vacant storefronts before the Christmas shopping season.
The Downtown Development Authority is sponsoring the first "Pop Up Shop" program. The Authority selected five merchants from a pool of candidates who agreed to open seven days a week through Dec. 30.
In return, the store owners will pay one-third the normal rent during the period. Their landlords and the Authority will split the remaining rent.
The five participating businesses, all near the intersection of Bijou and Tejon streets, are:
Acineau Gallaries, an art gallery, at 214 N. Tejon St.
Spinning Star Gallery, an art gallery and gift store, at 130 N. Tejon St.
Rocky Mountain SOAP Market, a cosmetics and beauty supply store, at 220 N. Tejon St.
Required Attire, a men's clothing store, at 109 E. Bijou St.
Playground Kidz, a children's clothing and toy store, at at 113 E Bijou St.
Jennifer Ryan of Acineau said the program fits with her business strategy.
"What I like about it is it doesn't lock you into one location," she said. You can take your business concept to different parts of a city."
Jennifer Hanson of Spinning Star is a pottery artist who said she started selling her work in nearby Acacia Park in 1990.
"I always saw myself in Manitou Springs," she said. "But I learned there's a difference between having a store in a tourist area and having one downtown. I'll find out if this will be a good fit."
Jennifer Ross of the SOAP Market said she had planned to open a store next spring until she learned of the program.
"I feel like this is where I'm supposed to be," she said. "I went ahead and committed to a year's lease. So far it's been great."
Reillor Davis of Required Attire said the program allows him to bring his own personal style to men's fashion.
"This is something that's special," he said. "It's definitely an honor to be (chosen)."
Steven Cedre of Playground Kidz said his previous location near Platte Avenue and Platte Place wasn't working out, and believes his new location downtown and near Acacia Park will attract more families as customers.
"But it's a risk," he said. "Either this works, or it fails and I'll move on to something else."
The merchants said they welcome the opportunity to compete in the downtown market and reach more customers.
The stores will be closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas but could have extended hours and special events.
If their businesses are successful during the holiday period, the merchants may choose to stay and pay the full rent amount.