When Brandon Castillo first told people he was going to set up an open-air bazaar in Deep Ellum, he got a lot of crazy looks. "You're going to do what where?" people asked, doubtfully. Deep Ellum was in the early stages of its renaissance and besides, this is Dallas, where people shop at NorthPark.
But Castillo did it anyway, setting up in an old parking garage behind Cafe Brazil. The first month, people came, about twice as many as expected, and they continued to come. Two years later, the Deep Ellum Outdoor Market is going strong, having abandoned its inaugural digs for a stretch of Main Street itself.
Now, Castillo will try to replicate his success a bit further west. This Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m., he's teaming up with the Jim Lake Companies to launch the Design District Outdoor Market on Cole Street between Dragon and Slocum streets.
"The Design District is now is kind of where Deep Ellum was two years ago," Castillo said, which he can tell in part by the raised eyebrows that greeted his idea. Castillo thinks -- or hopes -- that means the area is just as ready for an open market as Deep Ellum was then.
Thursday's event is modeled closely on Castillo's Deep Ellum experiment, but it won't be identical. The Design District has its own flavor and will have "some pretty specific Design District vendors."
"This is definitely the pilot project," Castillo said. "If it works, if it pops, we're definitely going to do it as a quarterly thing."
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