Hoping to inspire more retailers to open in the area and further development of an arts and entertainment district, the city of Glendale is offering free rent for pop-ups on the Artsakh Paseo, a pedestrian area on North Artsakh Avenue between Wilson and Broadway.
Retailers chosen for the program, known as the Artsakh Creative Retail Pop-Up Pilot Program, will occupy city-owned space on Artsakh Avenue.
Soua Vang, Glendale’s Deputy Director of Community Development – Economic Development, said the program was a “testing ground for many retailers.”
“We wanted to create an opportunity for these entrepreneurs,” she said.
The retailers go through a competitive process before being chosen for the space, at which point they receive six months of free rent, Vang said.
“There’s no financial commitment from the entrepreneurs,” she added. “The goal is to try and get them up and running and find success.”
Vang said some may ask to rent the space or for help finding another storefront in Glendale once the six-month period ends.
Once a merchant begins occupying a “plug-and-play” retail space, the city will handle maintenance and utilities; all the retailer has to do is supply the interior decor.
“It’s meant to be a pop-up, a temporary type of use,” Vang explained.
So far there have been two rounds of the pilot program, and four applicants have chosen in each round. The current merchants occupying the retail spaces are Chez Gagné, a gift shop; Rock Photography Museum; The Glendale Room, a comedy club; and Rolling Robots Innovation Lab.
Chez Gagné is an online store that was founded in 2014. The company makes greeting cards and other goods that are sold at boutiques and larger stores including Barnes and Noble.
“The partnership with them (Glendale), it’s a really cool opportunity,” Alex Gagné, owner of Chez Gagné, said. “I’ve always wanted to have a store.”
“We’re a creative business and it just fit with the program. I think we’re a nice complement to the area,” she added. “The city has really put it upon themselves to promote this and bring this program to life. It’s a great opportunity for someone like us who can’t afford to put up a store and have our business running at the same time. It’s a really unique opportunity.”
Gagné said she would love to do a permanent, flagship store in the future as well. The company has a warehouse in North Hollywood.
The Glendale Room was part of the first round of the pop-up shop program in addition to the second round. Its founder, Sean Casey, said he was “super excited when they rolled out the pop-up program.”
“This was a fantastic opportunity to test-pilot something and see if we were going to be able to have in-person gatherings,” he said. Casey also operates a comedy club located in Santa Monica.
So far, tenants and the city agree, the reaction has been positive to the pop-ups.
“The community loves it, especially when it comes to the comedy room,” Vang said. “It’s very intimate, very inviting, and there are discussions in terms of tenants coming together and producing programming.”
She added that the program was “creating an experience” for locals and visitors. “We’re looking to enrich the arts, culture and entertainment experience for the community. For us, creative placemaking is a top priority for the city, and we are looking to transform Artsakh Avenue and create a pedestrian-friendly walkable area. ”
We are looking for emerging entrepreneurs to come and stay in our city,” Vang added. “The city of Glendale, we are emerging as a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship and in order to get them to stay in our city we need” spaces like Artsakh Avenue.