Christmas pop-ups helping sellers expand

Published Monday, November 6, 2017
by Molly M. Fleming

The Bishop John Carroll Cathedral School tree lot has been a Christmas tradition in the city since 1959. Organizer Michael Dumont said he’s seen people who bought their tree there as children bringing their own children to the lot.

For more than 50 years, people bought their tree at the school, 1100 NW 32nd St. The annual tree sale generated about $5,000 for the school’s athletics program. While it’s a private school, tuition covers only the academic side. Sports are funded by an athletic fee and fundraisers.

But four years ago, Holiday Pop-Up Shop operator Allison Barta Bailey invited the school to set up shop next door. The pop-up shops are six geodesic domes with small versions of local stores inside. The domes occupy the lot at NW 10th Street and N. Hudson Avenue.

Dumont said he and the other volunteers were hesitant at first. They didn’t know how they would logistically make it happen and it was a risk to buy more trees without knowing whether they would sell downtown and at the existing tree lot. But they tried it.

“We thought it was a good way to be a part of the community and spread the word of the school,” he said. “Midtown is growing so much. It would be a cool thing to have down there every year. It turned out to be a fantastic event.”

The tree lot’s annual revenue is now more than $20,000. This year, the operators are putting all their trees on one lot, so trees will not be sold at the school.

Tree sales start Nov. 24 and run until they are gone. Last year, they were gone by Dec. 18, he said.

But the tree lot isn’t the only place finding business success at the Holiday Shops. The domes open Nov. 24 and are open every weekend, with the final weekend being Dec. 21.

AMP Variety Store co-owner Melanie Seward said she and her dad were in a dome last year for the first time. AMP shared space with Green Bambino in its dome.

AMP is on N. May Avenue near NW Grand Boulevard, not near downtown.

“(The pop-up shops) are a good opportunity to get good exposure from a different location,” she said. “It helped draw traffic to our store later.”

AMP and Green Bambino are in the shops from Dec. 7 to Dec. 10. She said Green Bambino owner Morgan Harris advised that this is a good weekend to be in the area.

AMP will sell dog toys, children’s toys, beauty care items, blankets, and hats.

Tulsa-based STEMcell Science Shop owner Terry Mudge said his wife, Jessie Mudge, has visited the shops in past years. He said he’s had people driving to Tulsa to find his shop and ask about an Oklahoma City location. His pop-up shop is his first test.

The Tulsa store is in a shipping container, so the dome is larger than his shop, he said.

“We’re in a unique situation in that everything will fit in the store,” he said.

Mudge said he’s already stocked up on merchandise after the huge sale increase he saw from people buying solar eclipse glasses. The shop was one of the approved vendors to sell NASA-certified eyewear. At one point, he said, he had a line a half-mile long. The extra traffic bankrolled his holiday season, so he’s able to take a little more risk on new products. He said the store will have items ranging from $30 to $40, and a few telescopes. The lowest price telescope is $170.

“People are starting to come in for those for the holidays,” he said. “They are a good gift.”

With the demand he’s already seeing from Oklahoma City customers, he said he thinks it won’t be long before there’s a store here. He gets requests on a weekly basis.

“We’re optimistic about the Oklahoma City expansion,” he said.

Norman-based Apple Tree Chocolate owners are trying to get their shop’s name in the Oklahoma City market. The store has been at Campus Corner for three years.

Husband-wife team Ashley and Scotty Jackson are launching a food trailer this month. The couple had a small stand at the Midtown Walkabout in October. They are also expanding into online sales.

“We want to get out and about in Oklahoma,” she said. “The pop-up shops seem like a good way to do that.”

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