SQFT: A Public Lab for Pop-Up Innovation

In the last year, the vacancy rate of commercial space in the US has plateaued as online retail giants continue to move the average shopping experience from High Street to our desktops, tablets and phones. In response, Pop-Ups have become a growing trend in urban centers across the US, such as New York and San Francisco.

Deliberately temporary, often housed in once-blighted spaces, and enabled by social and mobile technologies, Pop-Ups are disrupting the retail experience and revitalizing neighborhoods. Food and retail entrepreneurs are bootstrapping their way into whatever ground level space they can get — street corners, food trucks, even established stores and restaurants. These Pop-Ups are selling more than products: They’re selling experiences, the one thing you can’t add to your online shopping cart.

One such idea hatched at Creative Currency’s 48-hour design hackathon this past April has just popped. SQFT (pronounced ‘square foot’) is an online platform connecting entrepreneurial renters to short-term leases in San Francisco’s Mid-Market.

For decades, San Francisco’s Central and Mid-Market area has struggled with a number of challenges – high vacancy rates, grave physical blight, dwindling private investment, persistent homelessness, compromised citizen safety, and suffering small businesses. Yet it has many true assets – a central location, superior transit access, a diverse population, vibrant community and arts organizations, noteworthy architecture, and an abundance of public spaces.

With concerted revitalization efforts led by the City of San Francisco, the time is ripe with opportunity. Though there are longer term plans for a better, more united Market Street, SQFT is of the conviction that temporary pop-up activity can liven the area starting now. Tomorrow, in fact.

On Wednesday, August 1st, SQFT will host its official launch event, ‘By the SQFT: Popping up in Mid-Market.’ The event will feature round-the-clock pop-up activity along the Market Street corridor, livening the streets with retail, food, music, games and other activities. The event runs from 7:30am to 11:00pm, with the hub of activity on Market Street between 5th Street and 7th Street. Local labor is key to the platform’s approach, and SQFT is employing Mid-Market residents including cooks, musicians, apparel retailers, cleaners, and security guards.

If you're a budding entrepreneur who wants to test out an idea, make sure to sign up on their online calculator and let SQFT know what kind of space you're looking for: yoursqft.com

Twitter: @yoursqft
Facebook: yourSQFT
Event: http://www.facebook.com/events/435756883134958/

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