Pop-up retail initiative welcomes first four startup businesses

Entrepreneurs opening shops in vacant city storefronts

The commercial corridor on Cesar E. Chavez Drive.
The commercial corridor on Cesar E. Chavez Drive.

Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 04:51 pm

A pilot program launched last fall to match entrepreneurs with “pop-up” retail opportunities in three commercial corridors near downtown Milwaukee has opened its first round of businesses.

Pop-Up MKE, which is a public/private partnership, has been working with the City of Milwaukee’s White Box Grant program to improve vacant storefronts along Historic King Drive, Cesar Chavez Drive, and the North Avenue and Fond du Lac business improvement districts for the business owners that will be selected for this short-term, retail opportunity with potential long-term rewards.

First round businesses selected June 8 include:

Two of the four new Pop-MKE businesses will be located at 1008 S Cesar E Chavez Dr.
  • Monash Natural Blends, 1008 S. Cesar E. Chavez Dr., Monash sells custom-made aromatherapy products with organic ingredients.
  • In My City 365, 1008 S. Cesar E. Chavez Dr., a Milwaukee positive clothing brand.
  • Beloved Masterpieces LLC, 339 W. North Ave. Beloved Masterpieces offers community painting lessons.
  • Natural “E” Beauty, 339 W. North Ave., beauty products that encourage people to embrace who they are.
  • Asili Naturals, 1615 W. North Ave. Asili sells all-natural skin and body care products.
  • Bella’s Treasures, 1615 W. North Ave., Bella’s sells clothing, jewelry that “inspires beauty, fun energy, life and happiness.”

Pop-Up MKE is coordinated by Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) in partnership with the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC), the City of Milwaukee, and MKE United.

Pop-up MKE is part of a larger initiative, funded by an initial $200,000 investment from JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s PRO Neighborhoods initiative to finance white box and façade improvements for properties the businesses will occupy.

The project is being modeled after several similar programs across the country, including Detroit’s Motor City Match program.

LISC will provide technical assistance to the BIDs and property owners, and supplement funds with additional financing products. WWBIC helps identify and match small businesses and artists well-suited for the commercial districts and available space.

“This is a great opportunity for businesses to test their market and products, while being supported to generate public interest in their business in a low risk, supportive environment,” said Beth Haskovec, program officer and coordinator of Pop-Up MKE with LISC Milwaukee.

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