The city of Muskegon hopes the construction of nine or ten pop-up shops will add to the downtown's retail presence. Courtesy City of Muskegon
(As seen on WZZM TV 13) The city of Muskegon is thinking inside the box — one measuring between 90 and 150 square feet — to inject a retail presence in the downtown.
Construction is underway on a cluster of nine or 10 pop-up shops, or chalets, to house small retail outlets on Western Avenue between First and Second streets. Retailers will be able to rent one of the colorful structures from May through October, starting at $1,125 for a 90-square-foot chalet and going up to $1,875 for the 150-square-foot option.
“We wanted to make it affordable for the small business owner or entrepreneur who maybe has wanted to get things started but couldn’t afford a space,” City Clerk Ann Meisch said.
Each chalet will have access to electricity and small porch areas on the exterior, while the interior will remain unfinished, up to the renter to decorate.
The idea for the pop-up retail strip, christened “Western Market,” sprung from a discussion last summer to implement similar structures at Pere Marquette Park. But when those plans were delayed by requirements for state approval, City Manager Frank Peterson suggested relocating the project for the meantime.
The lot that will be the home of Western Market is owned by Downtown Muskegon Development Corporation. The city has received about $20,000 in grants, with support from the Community Foundation for Muskegon and the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, Meisch said. The chalets will cost between $3,000 and $3,500 to build, and there will be additional costs to hook up electricity.
As construction on the structures is ongoing, Meisch said there still is time to rethink the number of each sized chalet available, as the city receives feedback from interested renters on their size requirements.
Meisch said she has heard from at least 11 potential retailers interested in submitting an application for one of the chalets, ranging from glassmaking and photography shops to selling T-shirts and jewelry.
“The variety that we wanted is there, and the interest is there, as well,” Meisch said. “We want it to be an attraction that people will consistently come down and visit, and we want it to be a different experience.”
The city will require the retailers to remain open from at least 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Friday for the majority of the season. From July 1-Aug. 14, the shops will be required to be open seven days a week.
“That’s the minimum — we hope they’ll want to stay open for longer hours,” Meisch said.
The chalets are on target to open before May, and Meisch is hopeful they will be ready for retailers to move into at least two weeks before opening. The city also is looking at renting the chalets out on weekends during the Christmas season.
“I think that we’re a very progressive city — we do things outside of the box and we’re not afraid of trying new things,” Meisch said. “And I’m excited about the enthusiasm I’m catching from these incubator businesses that will have this opportunity with retail.
“It’s a good time for downtown.”