Who couldn't use a Popuphood?

So, I was listening to Marketplace on NPR the other day (what, you don't think dogs appreciate thoughtful news reporting?) and was intrigued by a segment on something called Popuphood.

No it's, not the lever you pull to get to your windshield wiper fluid receptacle; it's an innovative urban renewal program started, where else, in California.

Sarah Filley and Alfonso Dominguez started the movement in Oakland, Calif., last fall, Basically, they got tired of seeing beautiful old storefronts in their Old Oakland neighborhood sit vacant for so long. The locale had restaurants and bars but no foot traffic from stores.

So they came up with this movement in which several retailers would open in one corner of the neighborhood in long-vacant spaces all on the same day. Sort of a crowd-sourced entrepreneurship venture.

The retailers -- a jeweler, a bike shop, a fine art store, among others – were given six months free rent from their landlords, who were brought on board with the program early on. The city kicked in a grant to help get things rolling.

Popuphood is proving a success so far in Oakland, and I couldn't help thinking that it could work in some of our struggling downtowns, such as Norwich, New London, and my corner of the world, Pawcatuck.

We just need a couple of energized leaders, such as Filley and Dominguez, to get behind it, a few landlords with nothing to lose and a little earnest money from the municipalities.

It could be the beginning of something good in the hood. See www.popuphood.com for more.


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