A new hope: Checking out Grand Avenue’s new pop-up shops
So long, Lady Foot Locker; hello Taste of Urban Milwaukee Food & Cultural Tours LLC
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The Grand Avenue has long been a punchline for jokes about downtown. Suburban malls, big box stores, and online shopping have consistently beaten the mall down to the point where the best thing that could happen to it is a zombie apocalypse. But in the last year or so, the mall has started to fill those empty storefronts with actual stores. The downturn in the economy has given rise to the concept of the “pop-up shop”—a short-term store that signs a month-to-month lease for very little rent. While building owners may prefer to sign renters for longer leases to lower prices, getting some money now for an empty retail space is a better idea than waiting for Target or Kohl’s to come to your rescue.
A handful of pop-up stores recently opened inside the Grand Avenue, and a few more are scheduled to open by the end of this month. The A.V. Club takes a look at each and gives odds on which stores will still be around to hear the soothing tones of Milwaukee’s favorite robotic bears.
The concept: A “curated retail space,” which means the products rotate in and out from specific designers.
The space: An old Children’s Place featuring hardwood finishing, moody lighting, and eclectic hours.
Pro: Downtown should have a chic boutique area where all the fabulously wealthy executives go to buy their designer cheeseheads.
Con: It’s hard to cultivate an air of sophistication when you’re right next to a Payless ShoeSource.
Odds: 10-1. Boutiques do best when they have other boutiques to grow around them. Grand Avenue isn’t at that level by a long shot.
The concept: Home to suits, shoes, and hats for the fashionable male.
The space: Once home to the eerily similar Danielle’s, which featured what could charitably could be called eveningwear.
Pro: $100 gets you a suit, shoes, and a hat.
Con: The extensive potted plants in the window could make people think it’s some kind of tiger store.
Odds: 5-1. With Johnnie Walker’s and Torrence House of Threads out of the downtown area, this store could corner the pink alligator shoe market.
Store: Taste of Urban Milwaukee Food & Cultural Tours LLC
The concept: Food tours of local restaurants that can be booked online or via walk-in.
The space: The loss of the Lady Foot Locker brought the number of shoe stores in the mall down to four. There’s no joke here.
Pro: Locals and tourists alike can get out and try new places for dinner.
Con: Some of the office workers forget they are in a big glass box and do the same things everyone does when they think they are alone.
Odds: 4-1. Something that champions local business is good, but Taste of Urban Milwaukee could move as soon as actual office space opens up.
The concept: A cheap earrings and accessories place, complete with knockoff, er, simulated designer handbags.
The space: There is a lot of space to fill in the old Sam Goody, though the nostalgia trip for anyone who bought CDs in the ’90s might be worth some cheap sunglasses.
Pro: Dollar earrings and accessories seem right for the school groups that eat at the food court during downtown field trips.
Con: Glitter’s sign uses the font from the Mariah Carey vehicle of the same name, and is just begging for either a lawsuit or to be ironically stolen.
Odds: 3-1. Just selling out of the merchandise should keep this store around through Christmas.