Among the first things passersby see as they head into Dallas’ Deep Ellum district from the northeast is a small black and white striped awning atop a quiet storefront. Anyone heading in that direction probably knows what is to come just a few blocks away; some of the city’s most burgeoning businesses, from renowned barbecue to boutique bicycle brands.
What those in search of the next great retail experience may not know however, is that this small indistinguishable shop at periphery of Main Street serves not only as a physical gateway to the heart of Deep Ellum, but also as a gateway to commercial success for the tenants that fill out the 450-square-foot space of 3401 Main St.
Jacqueline Jaquez, owner of Pop Up on Main, offers short term stays to retailers, ranging from one day to one year, to give companies a place to showcase their inventory and allow them to grow.
“I’d heard about pop-ups and how popular they were, and I have the space,” she said. “I live in the back of it, and so the front space that I don’t use, closer to the door, I just thought, ‘Well, I could rent the space out to vendors that want to come in and bring their product or just product awareness to this part of the neighborhood’.”
Jaquez moved into the neighborhood close to two years ago because it gave her space to practice her music. She works as a songwriter, singer and producer, which is her first passion. Saying she’s been working professionally since she was five years old, ‘Jacq’ put her entrepreneurial spirit to practice when she opened up the ground floor of her apartment/studio to local retailers. Through social media ads mainly, she started connecting with local vendors and creatives who needed a space to scale their business.
“I knew vintage clothing vendors and antique sellers and stuff like that and then kind of went from there on making a website and advertising for it, reaching out to artists, local artists, local designers, vendors,” Jaquez said. “It was really slow at first, you know as you’re just kind of starting to get vendors. It took a lot of time, but now it’s picking up and now we’ve had really, really good vendors in there and it’s fun and they’re creative and they’ll go in there and have their workshops or sometimes people will have mixers. We’ve even had a baby shower in there.”
Jaquez’s venture into this project was not launched on a whim though. Even after struggling to find her first few tenants, her background in retail helped her become one of Dallas’ most preeminent pop-up locations.
“When I first moved to Dallas, I worked at Armani Exchange and then I worked at Neiman Marcus for a few years,” she said. “I took kind of my knowledge from that and I guess, you know, just you take what you know. I’ve basically lived my whole life through experience.”
Now, Pop Up on Main has become a launching pad for several retailers who previously had no experience with a brick-and-mortar location. Current tenant Nollege, a footwear and apparel company, is planning on spending the rest of 2018 in Jaquez’s storefront but is close to finalizing a deal to move to a permanent brick-and-mortar location within Deep Ellum at the end of its lease.
Store Manager Ansh Shah credits the pop-up experience with the company’s growth.
“Probably by the end of December we should be in there,” Shah said of Nollege’s future home. “That was always the goal, to get our official permanent residential spot. So, what the pop up shop did was help us establish ourselves, establish our name.”
Having previously sold goods online and out of their own houses, the team at Nollege recognizes the importance of a storefront.
“When everything is displayed like this, it’s just easier. People like to touch stuff and experience it themselves,” Shah said. “Here, we’ve definitely been able to establish that.”
When Nollege moves out, Jaquez will need to find a new retailer looking to leave the digital space and enter the domain of physical retail, if only for a day. Although it is never an easy task, she believes she has a system in place to attract retailers, and that the overall appetite among business owners has increased in Dallas in the time since she opened Pop Up on Main.
Her music background helps her put it into proper perspective.
“I think most vendors are either online first to try to get their product up and then they go pop-up city, like a tour. That’s how I’ve noticed vendors and designers and artists. They’re going around like tours,” she said. “It’s like a music tour, like you have an EP released and you’ve got to go promote that EP. Well, it’s just like that. They’re popping up in different cities and they’re like, ‘Here I am.’ They promote it on their socials and that’s how I look at it. It’s like the designers, like all those retailers’ vendors, they’re like the new pop stars.”
As an artist herself, Jaquez hopes to bring out the human side of retail and believes that pop-up shops are a way of expressing that.
“Everybody has a story for their product. There’s a person behind it that makes it,” she said. “These vendors are like me. we’re independent, we’re artists, we work for ourselves, most of us. We don’t have big companies behind us.”
Deep Ellum is growing as fast as any part of Dallas. Arts-focused retailers, restaurants and entertainment venues are popping up every day, and it might be an unassuming pop-up store at the end of Main Street that launches the next mainstay.