Shops Are Popping
downtown EC pop-up shop Pilar Fashions of California
Nestled among established downtown businesses such as Galloway Grille, Western Dairyland, The Livery and the U.S. Post Office, a unique type of store has emerged on North Barstow Street.
Pilar Fashions of California, a women’s accessories business, is not an ordinary retail store. Owner and Eau Claire native Alicia Hashlamoun calls it a “pop-up shop.”
“It means that you rent out a certain amount of space in an owner’s building and you pretty much pop your shop up for a day, a week, two weeks, or a month,” she said. “When you’re done, you just take it all down and do it again when you feel like your investments are good.”
“I saw the idea and I just jumped on it. I figured out what I had to do, where I had to do it, and how to make it legal. Boom! It was easy.” – local pop-up retailer Alicia Hashlamoun
She discovered the idea in California when she moved there with her husband just six months ago. Hashlamoun quickly noticed that some people have retail businesses but not necessarily places to locate them. They sell their items online and at markets, but if they want a space for longer than a day but not more than a couple of months they can rent one out for a limited amount of time.
“I saw the idea and I just jumped on it,” Hashlamoun said. “I figured out what I had to do, where I had to do it, and how to make it legal. Boom! It was easy.”
She credits her success to other pop-up shop retailers. She got started simply by asking them for advice.
“You just need people’s help,” she said. “And people like to help people.”
Since starting just a few months ago, Hashlamoun has set up shop in California cities such as Berkeley, San Francisco and Stockton.
But since she was coming back to Wisconsin for Christmas, she thought she would bring her business to Eau Claire as well.
Pilar Fashions of California has been open at 217 N. Barstow St. since Dec. 7 and will stay until Jan. 4 or maybe even longer if demand is high – and it seems that might be the case.
Hashlamoun said that as a positive thinker, she expected her pop-up shop would be successful. However, the amount of traffic in her establishment has really surprised her. “I thought it would do well, but I didn’t think it would do this well!” she said.
Since Pilar Fashions has been so successful, she hopes to pass on the idea to retailers in Eau Claire.
Not only is the pop-up show a great money-maker and a fun experience, Hashlamoun also describes it as a way to experiment if someone is considering starting a retail business.
“How is it going to go if you open a huge shop and it doesn’t go well? It’s better to test the waters first and see how it’s going to go and start investing your money,” she said.
Pop-up shops don’t just appeal to the sellers themselves, though. Because the businesses are less expensive to run, customers are able to purchase items for much cheaper prices. Pilar Fashions showcases scarves, earrings, headbands, necklaces, rings, hats and nail polish, all for around $5.
Hashlamoun hopes that pop-up shops will become more common in the Eau Claire area, especially to fill empty spaces downtown.
“I just want people to know that it works,” she said. “Even just for a week or two weeks, you’re going to make money. You’re going to have people coming in.”
While Pilar Fashions of California will be heading back to California in January, expect to see Hashlamoun and new accessories popping back up again in Eau Claire a few times a year as the fashion industry comes up with new ideas.
Pilar Fashions of California is open Tuesday through Saturday, 12pm-7pm at 217 N. Barstow Street in Eau Claire.