From cushions to art collections: Meet the first tenants at new pop-up business space
PUBLISHED: 21:39 24 May 2019 | UPDATED: 21:39 24 May 2019
What do an art collector, a horse sanctuary and a homewares retailer have in common?
They will all be making use of a new business space in Norwich which is giving small companies the chance to test the water in bricks and mortar.
Pop Up Norwich - which has opened in the former Maplin building on Castle Meadow - follows a co-working trend which is expanding from office-based workers to retailers.
Spearheaded by the Norwich Business Improvement District (BID), tenants can rent part of the space for as little as a week at below market rates.
Keith and Karen Moore operate their gifts and homewares business The Batting Bunny primarily online, but have decided to take a foray into the high street and are booked in for a week at Pop Up Norwich from June 10.
Mr Moore said: "We are really excited. I think it is a great idea, a really good use of space in Norwich and also it gives smaller businesses that opportunity to try a retail space without the longer term commitments. It also lets them get live customer feedback."
The new space has given a new lease of life to John Neild's gifts company JamPot, which will be at the venue next week. The business, run by Mr Neild and wife Sam, left its Timber Hill premises in January 2018 to trade solely online.
But Mr Neild said Pop Up Norwich provided "an opportunity to try something different".
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"Pop-up shops seem to be the way to go with the way the high street is at the moment and it gives people a chance to come in and meet other traders," he said.
Horse sanctuary Redwings has taken a long-awaited city centre base at Pop Up Norwich with a 12-week tenancy.
Gareth Austin-Mills, the charity's retail development manager, said: "We have wanted for a long time to have a presence in the city from an education point of view - we want to be able to tell people from the city and tourists about us.
"When this came up in such a cracking location with the offer that the BID was giving us, it has helped us to come in and do what we wanted to do."
Pop Up Norwich has also attracted more eclectic tenants such as artist and collector Daisy Bentley, who will be hosting a "pay what you feel" art exhibition at the venue for a week from June 2.
"It is going to be really accessible for people to come in, look and hopefully buy a piece of artwork. I have not seen it done in Norwich before," she said.
Meanwhile Noodle Soup will be hosting children's art workshops at the space over the bank holiday, with puppet-making and screen printing. The business' owner, illustrator Lucy Tanner, said: "I wanted to experiment with having a larger space and the city centre venue is great. Plus you're with other people, not on your own."
Norwich company Immersive VR is also set to open a free roaming virtual reality experience on the building's second floor on June 17.
Martin Blackwell, head of operations at Norwich BID and leader of the Pop Up Norwich project, said: "The idea behind this space is that it is like a department store that changes every week."