When you walk into HERE. a pop-up shop at it’s most recent Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts location, the first thing you notice is the unique merchandise that is featured throughout the room.
The locally made products include handmade jewelry stacked on tables, original paintings and Chesapeake Bay photographs pinned to the walls, brightly colored tutus hanging from garment racks and home décor accents strewn across the room’s furniture.
Amongst it all are two women adorned in flower crowns, sunnily sipping champagne and offering customers a glass to enjoy while they browse over the merchandise.
Amy Fresty and Ellen Lunay are the owners of HERE. a pop-up shop, a nomadic boutique that pops up in different locations for 10 days at a time, featuring local, up and coming artisans. The two neighbors turned friends turned businesses partners opened up the first shop in March of 2013.
“Why we have such a loyal following is because it’s only so often and it creates a sense of excitement and urgency,” Lunay said.
HERE. usually occupies vacant spaces, where Lunay and Fresty negotiate short term leases with the building’s owners. The most recent shop at Maryland Hall is a unique situation in that HERE. was invited to pop up for a second time, after the first 10-day stint was so successful.
Each pop up features new inventory that Lunay and Fresty hand pick. Artists whose work is found in other local stores are asked to debut new produces with HERE. to keep the store unique.
“We consign with our artists,” Lunay said. “So at the end of each shop, we give everything back that hasn’t sold. So that makes it easier to move and then also for our loyal customers that come each time, they’re not seeing the same exact thing over and over.“
The pair is able to keep overhead costs low by utilizing short-term leases, consigning with artists and staffing the store themselves.
HERE. mainly uses social media and word of mouth to communicate its next dates and location.
“We have about 3000 [members] on our email list now and about the same in Facebook, and about 1,500 [followers] on Instagram,” Fresty said.
Lunay first came up with idea behind HERE. after a friend from San Diego told her about small-scale shops popping up in California. She immediately approached Fresty with the idea.
The shops first location was a commercial building off of Westgate Circle. After struggling to find a space willing to lease to them for such a short period, they saw a small building hosting a temporary sample sale and decided to seek out the building’s owner to pitch their idea. The owner has since become one of HERE.’s biggest supporters.
Lunay and Fresty have partnering up with other local businesses to cross-promote using the THERE. card. Each time a customer makes a purchase at HERE., they receive a THERE. card that provides discounts to a few select local restaurants. Fresty said they’ve received great feedback from places they teamed up with so far.
HERE. has created a strong following of loyal customers, like Kaileigh Hall, who value small business in their community.
“I think their idea is genius and I love that both of the owners are moms who have come up with this great business idea, who support not only local artists but also other local businesses and are very successful at what they do,” Hall said.
HERE. has won The Capital’s Readers Choice Best New Local Retailer of 2014, and Lunay and Fresty won Capital Style Magazine’s Women of the Year award in 2013, amongst other accolades.
Looking to the future, the women behind HERE. hope to expand to other markets, taking the shops merchandize and popping up in Baltimore and Washington, D.C.