Santa Clarita market serves as pop-up retail space for local artists, entrepreneurs

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (KABC) -- The pandemic cost millions of jobs and destroyed many small businesses. But an idea growing in popularity even before the pandemic, pop-up retail, is proving to be a solution for some who are trying to start a small business.

Ariane Aligo, the owner of a new pop-up store in Santa Clarita called The Artistic Exchange Market describes it like this: "When people come in, they usually say it's an Etsy store in real life."

Aligo was a full-time college student with a full-time job. She also had a desire to sell items she created, but simply didn't have time to go to arts and crafts events.

She began to ask herself a question that led to her creating The Artistic Exchange Market.



"Why isn't there a store who could just set up my display for me, sell my items, and then I could just stay home and build a brand on my own time? So I did it," she said.

One thing that makes the Artistic Exchange Market different than a standard pop-up retail store that might open for a season, or to create an experience, The Artistic Exchange Market is more pop-in retail. Local artists can briefly rent shelf space and build a brand without the risk of long-term leases that come with traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Aligo assumes that risk for all of them.

"If you have a hobby, you want something to sell, you can put it in here," she said.

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Maribeth Gillespie, the owner of MB Blankets, has a presence at The Artistic Exchange.

"There's so many talented vendors in Santa Clarita that I've met just like in the past year, but it's a great way for us to market our products," she said.

Sellers aren't tied to a specific time frame when they rent shelf space. Instead, it's a time window that works for them. They can leave and come back if they want, while the store stays. Most sell their products online and through social media, but they know an in-store presence is critical.

"We want to create a brand. But the brand is not just a label, the brand is my face, my wife's face, my son's face, and we want to make sure that we can connect with you," said Alex Uriostegui, the owner of Salsa Valente.

Paulina Moreno, the owner of Boozy & Petal Designs agrees.

"On Etsy, you see pictures online, but you always have questions. Well here, it's local vendors that you can come, you can touch, you can feel, you can see - is this really what I want? And that's great," Moreno said.

With a waiting list of about 50 sellers, The Artistic Exchange Market might be an example of the future of retail -- small format stores able to quickly adapt to health requirements in a post-COVID world, while continuing to embrace e-commerce as well as reaching several markets at once.

"It's like a marketplace made by your neighbors for your neighbors," Aligo said.

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