Emerging artists in Winnipeg are finding success with "pop-up shops," such as the Exchange Uporium, that give them a temporary space to sell their creations.
The Exchange Uporium opened in May, bringing together more than 40 local artists, designers and vintage curators at the Silpit Building in the city's Exchange District.
It's part of PUSH, a year-long pilot project by CentreVenture Development Corp. that pairs startup entrepreneurs with vacant downtown storefronts.
The pilot project's goal is to have the startups reach customers by operating in a temporary retail location. The Exchange Uporium will be open until mid-September.
With help from the provincial government, the development company secures the lease, while the artists and designers share the costs of keeping the store running.
The concept of a pop-up store that sells unique and locally made products inspired Jessica Hodgson to sell her ceramics there.
"I heard about it just kind of at the tail end, as they already had all their other artists picked out. So I jumped on board and I'm glad I did," she said Wednesday.
Said Julie Pedersen, who sells her urban mukluks at the Uporium, "It's just such a good opportunity for all these different artists … just to give us a start."
CentreVenture president and CEO Ross McGowan says in the coming weeks, the agency will be announcing details of another shop popping up on Graham Avenue and Vaughan Street.
"We wanted to give young budding entrepreneurs an opportunity to test the waters and see if they have a business model that works, and also to activate vacant retail space," McGowan said.
Back at the Exchange Uporium, Angela Wells — the store's only full-time employee — says the venture has been successful and rewarding.
"I'm a creative type, and on a whim I started creating something and never really thought that the opportunity for maybe me to run a business or own my own business would be in my future. But perhaps it is, and so that's very exciting," she said.
Wells, who also sells her own designs, said some who are involved with the Uporium are already talking about opening shops in the future.