Retail Magic in the Hood
Recently I came across a great example of retail driven urban renewal. As a branding agency we have a particular soft spot for retail brands and the role they play (good and bad) in the lives of community. For me POPUPHOOD reflects the very best of the role retail can play in re-invigorating urban communities.
POPUPHOOD is an urban initiative and small business incubator revitalizing Oakland in San Francisco where — despite a thriving bar and restaurant scene — retail continues to struggle. POPUPHOOD is the embodiment of an innovative strategy for breathing new life into the city’s retail sector in downtown’s hip, historic Old Oakland neighborhood. Similar in many ways to our own Renew Australia’s efforts to connect artists and community projects with vacant buildings to revive derelict areas, POPUPHOOD started in the historic neighborhood of Old Oakland, filling five previously vacant store fronts with five new retail shops, including a jewellers and art gallery. The project’s main focus is to support the local community, providing them with a vibrant shopping area and giving local artists, designers and retailers the opportunity to open their own store for six months, rent free. By building cross-sector partnerships with state and federal governments and economic development professionals, POPUPHOOD plans to incubate small businesses and create a dynamic community-centric neighborhood, optimizing empty retail space block by block.
POPUPHOOD Oakland retailers include: Manifesto Bicycles, Marion and Rose’s Workshop, Sticks + Stones, Piper + John General Goods, Turtle and Hare, and Crown Nine – each business having a strong sense of integrity, craft and personality. Tellingly there are no $2 shops, discount stores or big box retailers here – the strength of the POPUPHOOD concept is community, with all businesses involved providing a real sense of connection with and back into the local scene.
The video below explains POPUPHOOD in more detail:
When we talk of retail brands typically we think of the large chain retails and the manner in which they create a clearly defined proposition with a broad and active brand communications campaign to connect with their markets. But here we have an example of the other side of retail branding; small, high integrity crafts people with an absolute passion for what they do, connecting with members of their local community in order to trade. This is retail old-school. I believe this approach to retail and retail branding is connecting on a powerful, emotional level with a part of the modern urban mindset that craves intimate, communal relationships within our communities. The branding as it exists here is intuitive, the brand design of visual language is not corporate, or strategically considered, but authentically driven by the retailer’s own passion – and this is the strength.
If the POPUPHOOD concept proves to be as successful as I hope it does, it will not only provide a blueprint for similar urban renewal programs throughout the cities of the world, but perhaps also an insight into a new category of old school retail opportunities based upon single store brands with a real passion and integrity for their product, who see themselves as an integral part of a community.
This short film documents the founders and participants of POPUPHOOD, and was created by Oakland photographer Eva Kolenko in hopes of introducing their inspiring stories to others and in some way improve the community in which she lives and loves. All the music featured in this documentary was created by Oakland musicians, Beat Rock Music, Precipitate Records, Gummybear, and James + Evander. Also Special thanks to Kate Ellen of Crown Nine for conducting all the interviews and for all the additional assistance in filming this short documentary.
To learn more about POPUPHOOD visit popuphood.com