Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pop-Up Shops Galore Coming Downtown!

Are you ready for some amazing news? Last week I posted about therethere opening their first retail store in Downtown San Jose. Well, it turns out they will have a lot of company during the holiday season. A total of NINE pop-up stores will be opening by November 7th!!!

These popups will be occupying underutilized spaces both indoors and outdoors, including the lobby of the San Jose Rep. This is a win all around... a win for local entrepreneurs, for Downtown residents and visitors, and for current Downtown retailers that have been yearning for other businesses to open up shop and help attract a critical mass of shoppers.

Times are changing and over the new few years we may see the same explosive growth in Downtown retail that we have with the restaurant scene in recent years. Please read the release below and patronize these businesses. Let's help our local entrepreneurs succeed Downtown and prove that retail can work here!

Temporary stores “pop up” downtown

SAN JOSE – Nine “pop-up” stores will open during downtown San Jose’s holiday season when more than half a million people visit the center city.

The new shops are occupying underutilized indoor and outdoor spaces downtown, including vacant storefronts such as the former San Jose Repertory Theatre lobby.

Civic pride apparel provider Therethere x SJ, opened its doors Oct. 24, sees the San Jose Pop-Up Project as part of downtown’s evolution, where arts, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit thrive.

“Not only do we hope this pop-up microhood activates the downtown corridor and supports independent business, but we also hope to encourage people to explore downtown and shop locally,” said Chinwe Okona, project manager of Therethere x SJ.

All of the stores are expected to be open by a pop-up event Nov. 7, coinciding with the popular monthly South First Fridays art walk.  The shops will remain open into January.

The lineup incudes:

  • Therethere x SJ – unique graphic Tshirdesigns created by local artists; Angela Tsay, owner; 15 N. Second St.; Wed-Sat, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; therethere.comopen Oct. 24

  • Underground: A Fashion Boutique – men’s and women’s clothing and accessories with a seasonal appeal; Sam Garcia, owner; 95 S. Market Street; Wed-Sun in November; daily in December, 11 a.m.-7; expected opening Nov. 1

  • San Jose Bike Clinic and Cowgirl Bike Couriers – bike repair and education; Cain Ramirez, courier owner; Camera Cinemas lobby, 201 S. Second St.; Thur-Mon; and; expected opening Nov. 1

  • The Usuals – apparel, accessories and gifts; Marie and Mike Millares, owner; former San Jose Repertory Theatre, 101 Paseo de San Antonio; daily except Tuesday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sun; 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon, Wed, Thur; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Fri and Sat.;; expected opening Nov. 5

  • SJ MADE Playspace – platform for creative entrepreneurship (trunk shows); Marie Millares, owner; former San Jose Repertory Theatre, 101 Paseo de San Antonio; daily except Tuesday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sun; 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon, Wed, Thur; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Fri and Sat.;; expected opening Nov. 5

  • Empire Seven Studios – gallery; Jen Ahn and Juan Carlos Araujo, founders; former San Jose Repertory Theatre, 101 Paseo de San Antonio; daily except Tuesday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sun; 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon, Wed, Thur; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Fri and Sat.;; expected opening Nov. 5

  • San Jose Earthquakes – soccer merchandise and Earthquakes ticket sales; former San Jose Repertory Theatre, 101 Paseo de San Antonio; daily except Tuesday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sun; 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon, Wed, Thur; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Fri and Sat.;; expected opening Nov. 5

  • DIE HARD – unique sports apparel; Adam Mayberry, owner; shipping container on plaza outside former San Jose Repertory Theatre; daily, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; expected opening Nov. 7

  • First Article – Jaymer Delapena, principal; Bay Area designed and created men’s wear; shipping container on plaza outside former Repertory Theatre; daily, 10 a.m.-8; expected opening Nov. 7

San Jose Downtown Association and the City of San Jose Office of Economic Development started the process of matching retailers and non-profits with vacant and underutilized ground-floor spaces in the downtown core about six months ago, said Nate Echeverria, SJDA business development manager.

The “pop-up” or temporary retail could grow into something more permanent, Echeverria suggested.

We want to catalyze the next wave of retail to downtown,” said Lee Wilcox, city Office of Economic development downtown manager. 

Added Marie Millares, owner of SJ MADE and The Usuals, and who is willing to stay inside the former San Jose Repertory Theatre building as long as possible:  “We've seen similar pop-up programs start and ignite retail districts in cities like Oakland, Los Angeles, and New York.  It's time to see these forward steps happen in San Jose, and we're glad to be part of it.”

Operating retail outlets from shipping containers is a first for downtown San Jose.

Not only will we gain exposure for our company, but also be a part of the larger conversation,” added Adam Mayberry, owner of DIE HARD sports apparel.  “We can work with property owners to find more permanent locations for shipping container retail and possibly create a new hub in downtown San Jose.”

The city-sponsored Pop-Up Project highlights downtown San Jose’s potential, said Jaymer Delapena of First Article consortium of men’s wear developers, who also will be stationed in a container.  “We’re participating partly to showcase our community and a simple, yet innovative approach to retail in an urban setting,” he said.

San Jose Bike Clinic and Cowgirl Bike Courier hope to create a cycling hub that raises enough funds to move its clinic into a permanent location, said Cain Ramirez of Cowgirl and Corinne Winter, president and executive director of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition. 

For Underground:  A Fashion Boutique, the Pop-Up Project serves as a chance to reunite with former downtown customers, said owner Sam Garcia.  Garcia previously operated the record store and clothing store OnFirst on South First Street.

As the Pop-Up Project gained momentum over the summer, others came forward to help, including Tracey Ariga of Gensler, graphic designer Ben Henderson, and Spartups tech accelerator managing partner Saif Akhtar.

“We hope to inspire the public to take a peek and discover what the buzz is all about,” Ariga said.


The San Jose Downtown Association (SJDA), established 1986, is a non-profit group of business and property owners working to improve the vitality and livability of downtown San Jose.   SJDA advocates on issues that affect downtown business and property owners; enhances the image of downtown and attract new visitors through year-round marketing, public relations, and special events; and collaborates with its Property-Based Improvement District (PBID) for ongoing improvements to downtown’s cleanliness, security, aesthetics and delivery of services.


  1. I need more t-shirts! I'm headed downtown!

  2. "Popping up" because these non-traditional/younger retailers can't afford the rents in urine-stained downtown San Jose, where the rents are almost as high as Santana Row, but the crime, bums and rifraff all come free. How about a blog post about the many empty storefronts on Santa Clara, San Fernando...or one about the neat new adult store that opened on Santa Clara Street? Hey -- it's in a real storefront!

    1. The rents aren't even close to Santana Row, but yes there are still a lot of empty storefronts. That is why these popups are a great idea to help fill some of them up and give local entrepreneurs a chance to shine!

    2. But no love for the new Love Store...

  3. People act like an adult store is the epitome of a ghetto or low class downtown. I just walked down Colorado in downtown Pasadena and there is an adult store, complete with lingerie displays in the window. And Pasadena is far from being a low end, or classless downtown.

  4. San Jose just acts like it's invisible. Yay! Popups! Yay another BroBar! And wait until the Whole Foodsgasm here when the store opens on the Alameda at Stockton -- geography will be rewritten to make that neighborhood "downtown" and the opening of Yuppie Market will be lauded as "another sign that downtown is The Place To Be!" On this blog, in the Merc and all the other vested-interest publications, things like adult stores, Fountain Alley drug markets, St. James Park being a haven for the unhoused and over-inebriated...these things simply do not bear reporting. All is well! Exclamation marks trump reality!!

    1. I think the Merc and the SJ pessimists have those topics covered already. If you don't like good news about what is happening in SJ or want to complain about issues we have limited control over, you should probably head over to SJ Inside.