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Holiday Pop-Up Shops Highlight Artists & Independent Business In Springfield

Rachel Otwell
Springfield Vintage at its new location, 215 S 5th St.

In major cities the pop-up shop is a well-known fixture (well - that's not the right word, considering their ever-changing nature, but you get the idea.) Springfield now can boast its own fleetof shops serving up one-of-a-kind, unique goods made by artists and artisans. For those who want to shop locally and skip the mall and west-side traffic jams this time of year, it's also a great chance to mingle downtown and absorb the holiday decorations and spirit.

The shops will be open during the Holiday Walks, taking place Wednesdays 5 - 8pm and Saturdays 11am - 2pm, leading up to Christmas. Lisa Clemmons Stott is the director for Downtown Springfield Inc. which is hosting the events. She says one of the goals of the pop-up effort is to fill vacancies in the area. "The point is to introduce some retailers to what the best shopping season downtown is like, and to introduce some property owners into some uses they haven't thought of before." 

Credit Rachel Otwell
a view inside Springfield Vintage

Linda Renehan has taken her vintage treasures to several spots around the city - formally she was on Governor St. in Vintage Pop, though her store is now called Springfield Vintagewhile the Shimmy Shackremains in the previous location. Renehan says she has found the perfect fit in what was formally Bridge Jewelry (215 S 5th St). It started as a part of the pop-up initiative but is set to become her new, permanent location. It was her effort last year in opening a pop-up that helped demonstrate the potential. "I feel like I found the perfect storefront to compliment my business.  The landlord is fabulous and is making my transition downtown awesome," she tells me.

Clare Frachey, a young local artist and co-owner of DIY music venue Black Sheep Cafe, is hosting a crew of artists on the Old State Capitol Plaza. "Being involved in the arts scene is important to me, so I tend to seize opportunities that are presented to me more often than not. Doing a pop-up art show series downtown for the month of December not only creates interest in the downtown area, it spreads ideas in multitudes of ways. People walk by and see the work in the show, and they see that a once empty building is now filled with creative energies combining into a collaborative effort," says Frachey.

Credit courtesy

Not too long after I profiled Roosevelt Pratt, owner of the former Fashion Afrique on Monroe St. - he packed up shop and headed for St. Louis. He's back in town and hoping to start anew. He's one of the vendors set up in the old Myers building. Pratt says the pop-ups are, "A great initiative following in the footsteps of many cities. Artisans are the spice in adding that neighborhood feel and it is hoped that DSI can follow leads of cities like St. Louis and Chicago where struggling artists can be housed in a co-op situation thus making rental non-prohibitive," he says. 

For those looking to become a bigger part of their local community - visiting downtown while the Holiday Walks and pop-ups are going on is a great start. While you're there, you can check out area fixtures like the much-loved Prairie Archives, Recycled Records and The Cardologistwhich has moved next door to Recycled (627 E. Adams), plus newer efforts like organic and locally-sourced grocer Milk & Honey Fresh Market, and vintage/fine-art purveyor Urban Sassafrass. There are plenty of other great retailers selling art and gifts for you to discover or re-explore on your next downtown adventure, not to mention a host of independent coffee shops and restaurants. 

Credit Rachel Otwell
my kid says "Santa is awesome!" (at the Old State Capitol Saturdays 11am - 2pm)

Santa is even at the Old State Capitol on Saturdays, my own family was thrilled with our experience there this weekend. There was virtually no line to see him, and there were carolers and crafts to partake in. Bring your own camera for the photo-ops, and take in the historic charm of our city. (While attendance is technically free, if you know anything about the state budget & lack of funding for maintenance of such places, you should probably be moved to shed a Lincoln or two from your billfold into the donation box.)

For more information on times and locations of the Holiday Walks & pop-up shops, click HERE.

Rachel Otwell of the Illinois Times is a former NPR Illinois reporter.
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