The pop-up shop, located at 27-24 Queens Plaza South, highlighted the dozens of artisans and small business owners in the borough who manufacture everything from holiday cards to purses to hot sauce.
According to Sante Antonelli, the director of business services at the Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC), said the pop-up shop has greatly aided many of the vendors. QEDC was able to help artisans with branding, production scaling, local business law and more.
Though the lease at the shop is up in March, Antonelli said the holidays are the busiest time of year for most stores and it makes sense to close then so that QEDC can focus on the next step. QEDC received a $40,000 grant from Capital One to open the space and also charged vendors to use the space for sales.
The prices changed over time but in December, non-food vendors paid $290 to set up shop and food vendors paid $100 to sell their items. The Made in Queens pop-up shop will close on Dec. 30.
“Forty percent of sales happen in December,” he said. “All retail stores after December basically float.”
The LIC Post first reported the pop-up shop’s closure because it was not “economically viable,” but Santonelli said that as a pop-up shop, the plan had always been to close.
“When we opened up it was a pop-up initiative, so we were always going to close,” he said. “This is the beginning of a long project. Once the store closes, Made in Queens is not going anywhere.”
Antonelli thought about transitioning to an e-commerce model but decided not to move forward with it at this time. Instead, QEDC will partner with existing organizations to help vendors sell their products in well-established venues in Queens.
“Instead of creating something new there are already enough good things happening in Queens for us to partner with like universities – Queens College, LaGuardia, local events like the Queens World Film Festival,” he said.
Made in Queens will be experimenting with organizing shorter pop-ups and joining existing events to maximize exposure for local vendors.
Santonelli said the pop-up has allowed his organization to meet many new artisans doing business in the area, and several vendors have signed up for QEDC’s business plan writing course.
“There are a lot of things that go beyond the store after the doors close, and that’s the thing we want to highlight,” he said. “This is not an end; this is a beginning.”
Next year, QEDC will release a report outlining the metrics of the six-month pop-up shop, including details about foot traffic and sales. The organization will also roll out a Made in Queens certification for businesses that are based in the borough and hire employees locally.
“We’re very proud of this project,” he said. “We’ve established a brand that before didn’t exist. We look forward to introducing to all the new things happening in the new year.”
For a full list of vendors, visit the Made in Queens website.