Pop-Up Shop program looks to attract business to downtown CR - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Pop-Up Shop program looks to attract business to downtown CR

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -

It's a special moment for small business owner Sandra Rinderknecht, who had always believed one day she would do business out of a physical store.

"Anything is possible," Rinderknecht said.

Gone are the days where inventory sits in her basement.

Rinderknecht's business, which has operated online and by meeting customers at events, now has a home in downtown Cedar Rapids, thanks to a little help.

"It allowed us to kind of push ourselves to the limit," Rinderknecht said.

Rinderknecht can test the waters with little risk because of a new Metro Economic Alliance pop-up shop pilot program.

"It gives me the opportunity to take these first two months and really focus on setting the store in a professional way, and it gives me the opportunity to reach out to the professional community," Rinderknecht said.

For two months, the downtown space is her, free of rent and utilities.

The program looks to attract other retailers like Rinderknecht to downtown vacant properties.

"We thought what a good way to look to fill up high traffic urban spaces that are vacant, especially street level," said Sarika Bhakta, who helped spur the project with the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance.

It's an effort to bring vitality to a downtown that continues to rebuild since 2008's flood.

For now, Rinderknecht is enjoying her new home, with plans to be there for many years to come.

"We want to do this with our feet hitting the ground running, and trying to make this long term," she said.

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