Trading empty storefronts for pop-up businesses in cubes

Summary:Can six-foot cubes help landlords and entrepreneurs inject life into Manhattan's vacant stores?

Business is booming in Manhattan's Lower East Side, and yet, empty, crumbling storefronts number in the hundreds.

When store rental is so expensive and properties remain vacant, an opportunity arrives for small businesses -- given the chance -- to use this space, inject extra life into the U.S. economy, and help independent retailers survive.

In a new Kickstarter campaign, the miLES Storefront Transformer project aims to transform these spaces for use by boutiques, SMBs and independents.

"Imagine a shape-shifting storefront, one space, many possibilities: from an independent arts space one week to designer fashion boutique the next; from cooking classroom on Thursday to locavore snack bar on Friday," the project creators say.

How does it work? The miLES group are entrenched in the "pop-up" movement whose creators use furniture to set up and program any storefront -- from a six-foot cube kit.

Once unfolded, the kit provides functional elements such as shelving, partitions, tables, seats, stage, as well as infrastructure such as lighting, Wi-Fi, power strips, speakers, projectors, and PA system so you have all the basic ingredients for a variety of pop-up spaces and businesses.

While landlords wait for long-term tenants, if they sign up for the idea, they agree to month-to-month "leases" which allow entrepreneurs to use the space to advertize their goods -- as well as offer landlords income.

"After the success of our pilot in April, more landlords have opened to what we proposed and we believe that this model is a viable, sustainable, and scalable means to activate storefronts across the world," the founders say.

At the time of writing, the project has secured $22,375 of a $32,000 goal to set up a vacant storefront with the furniture necessary to incubate seven pop-up ideas. If successful, the idea will be extended.

Via: Fast Co.Design

Image credit: miLES

This post was originally published on

Topics: Innovation


Charlie Osborne, a medical anthropologist who studied at the University of Kent, UK, is a journalist, freelance photographer and former teacher. She has spent years travelling and working across Europe and the Middle East as a teacher, and has been involved in the running of businesses ranging from media and events to B2B sales. Charli... Full Bio

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