As featured on Alt Daily....

We’ve got big plans for this space that you’re going to love.
But while that’s taking shape, we’d love you to put your pop-ups here—free.
Requirements: Good ideas. Responsible people. Short timeframes.

The opportunity to host a pop up event at 433 Granby St, for free, represents a growing energy in Norfolk. There is an emerging movement toward art, re-habing spaces, collaboration, and supporting local economies and entrepreneurial initiatives in the port city. One such catalyst of this movement is Vibrant Spaces. The initiative stems from the Downtown Norfolk Council, in collaboration with Grow, and aims to “accelerate neighborhood-defining businesses in Downtown Norfolk.” Vibrant Spaces hopes to facilitate the build out of businesses, providing multi-functional spaces that blend community and commerce while placing a strong emphasis on experience and functionality over spending. 

“I went to the meeting last week when Vibrant Spaces was unveiled and the energy in the room just sort of exploded when Drew was talking about this opportunity,” says Ashley Grove, owner of Fairview Place, a Norfolk pop up shop, referring to Drew Ungvarsky, Owner and Creative Director of Grow Interactive, one of the key leaders behind this initiative.

It’s about much more than selling a product. Businesses must demonstrate an intention to create active, energetic, well-designed spaces that are “often a hybrid of shopping, service, food, events, entertainment, lounging, and/or working.”

“This is an opportunity entrepreneurs should not pass up. Ever want to 'test' a business idea in Norfolk? Now is your chance. People should hurry up and apply,” says John Wharton, owner of Glass Gardens, a plant pop up shop.

433 Granby is currently listed as one of the available Vibrant Spaces properties where businesses can apply to be awarded a $20,000 startup prize and a discount on rent for a multi-year lease. While the space is awaiting its permanent residents, pop ups can continue to submit applications to host a free pop up for a short time period.

It was an opportunity John Wharton couldn’t turn down. Popping up at various spots throughout Norfolk and Hampton Roads, even so far as Richmond, connecting with people, teaching, sharing ideas, encouraging new entrepreneurs; pop ups are his thing. He heard about the free pop up space from Melissa Gumley of ADHD Driven, a local artisan of unique fashion and accessories, and longtime friend of John’s.

The two small businesses will be popping up along-side each other for a four day art, sale, and community event that intends to embody the essence of a vibrant space. The event schedule includes live craft, sewing, and terrarium demos and classes, and succulents and air plants interwoven into fashion and spectacular art displays. ADHD Driven premiers on Wednesday, June 4th and partners up with Glass Gardens and Friends for POTTED starting on Friday, June 5th, which extends until Sunday, June 7th.

The event encourages Norfolk residents, and visitors, in the midst of the busy Harbor Fest weekend, to explore and experience the local small business scene while engaging in fun and skillful activities centered around upcycled art, plants, building partnerships, collaboration, DIY craft, fashion, and community. Other featured art, community, and craft “friends” include Ashley Grove of  Fairview Place and me, Heather Phillips of Small Acts Count.

One thing is certain: passion and creativity are staples for any business hoping to build out a vibrant space. Fortunately, Norfolk abounds with an eclectic mix of creative and outspoken artsy individuals. Until a lucky business acquires the 433 Granby space full time, it will be exciting to see how each local pop up accepted for a time slot at the venue will demonstrate what it means to build, execute, and succeed in a Vibrant Space.

This article was produced as a Small Acts feature by Small Acts Count.