Downtown Has a New Pop-Up Shopping Experience

By Shayna Mace

Two new pop-up shops have opened in downtown Madison that feature 10 unique businesses, all owned by people of color. Named Culture Collectives, the concept was the result of a collaboration between the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce, the Wisconsin Latino Chamber of Commerce, the Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce and the Madison Central Business Improvement District. Culture Collectives is located at 440 and 444 State St. and opened Oct. 1.

The spaces hold a variety of businesses that sell clothing, accessories, bath and body products, and specialty items from Southeast Asia, Africa, Mexico and elsewhere. Eight of the 10 businesses are women-owned, says Allison Aguilar Bultman, associate director of the Latino Chamber.

“State Street has always been known for different types of restaurants that are expressing different cultures, and same with the shops … so now Culture Collectives is bringing all of that into these two storefronts,” says Aguilar Bultman.

Saran Ouk, manager of the Office of Business Resources with the City of Madison’s Economic Development Division, says the pop-up shop idea came about because of the business vacancies on State Street, as well as a way to showcase the variety of minority-owned businesses in Madison.

“The folks that were having those conversations initially were Jessica Cavazos [CEO of the] Latino Chamber and Camille [Carter] at the Black Chamber. They had the pop-up idea originally,” says. Ouk says discussions for the pop-up concept started over a year ago, and it’s been satisfying seeing it come to fruition.

Aguilar Bultman says some of the businesses actually started during the pandemic and had just been selling through Facebook. The brick-and-mortar location is giving the business owners a chance to test out their ideas and products, chat with customers and see what’s working. It’s also given them the chance to collaborate with the other vendors on-site.

“There really is that sense of community there where they all want to help each other succeed. It’s actually beautiful once you go in and see how they help each other,” says Aguilar Bultman.

It’s a reality that rent on State Street is expensive, and Culture Collectives gives small business owners a chance to vend there for a heavily discounted rate and has flexible, short-term leases (three months, six months, et cetera). Rent is anywhere from $150-$300 per vendor per month, depending on how many days they’re on-site and open. (For comparison, Ouk says spaces can go for $5,000 per month on State Street). Ouk says property management company JD McCormick “has been super supportive and they negotiated a below-market rate for the city [who operates the pop-up] … so it really is a huge cost savings for these vendors.”

Currently the lease for the space ends on June 30, 2022, and Ouk and Aguilar Bultman are hopeful this “pilot program” can be expanded elsewhere throughout the city. Ouk says she’s already had interested parties reach out to her, inquiring about replicating the pop-up concept.

Read more about Culture Collectives at:

444 State St. hours: Tues.-Sat. 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

440 State St. hours: Tues.-Sat. noon-7 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

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