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The Power of the Pop-Up Shop

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Wednesday afternoon photo intern Taryn Walker stopped by the Living Plaza, which made its return to Dallas City Hall ... and not for the final time, as organizers within OCP headquarters now expect it to become a monthly event, at least. Yet again, bcWORKSHOP's shipping-container-turned-food-commissary was parked on the plaza, from which Natsumi Kitchen and La Popular Tamale House -- two of the eateries at Dallas Farmers Market -- dispensed their edibles; joining them were art dealers and plant sellers, thus rendering the concrete wasteland a miniature marketplace. Of sorts.

Which brings me to this morning's Better Block essay by Jason Roberts, who uses the Living Plaza's burgeoning success as jumping-off point for a larger piece about the power of the pop-up shop. Look no further than Oak Cliff's Oil and Cotton, after all, which sprang up out of nothing during the very first Better Block event in April 2010 and has become an honest-to-goodness business. Or Half-Price Books, which Ken Gjemre and Pat Anderson started in an old laundromat. Writes Roberts:

So why does this pop-up storefront option work so well? It lowers the barriers to entry for a person interested in starting a business, creates a temporary timeline to test out the businesses potential, and mitigates the risk associated with a traditional start-up. It also does away with the tedium, and minutia associated with filing endless permits, developing long-range accounting forecasts, reviewing costly insurance packages, multi-year leases, navigating bureaucracy and more. In the end, it's the Lemonade Stand philosophy: All it takes to start one is a stand, and lemonade. The other pieces are necessary, but can be added and enhanced as the business grows. Our focus should be on helping setup the stand so that the early entrepreneur can simply try their hand at something that could be an ongoing and sustainable successful business.

In other words: City Hall's nice and all. But you'd be amazed by what you can do without it. Read the whole thing here.

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