Pop up shops are bursting into our town centre

Businesses across Mid and East Antrim are bursting onto the town centre scene with help from a new pop-up shop programme.

By Elinor Glynn
Tuesday, 7th December 2021, 1:40 pm

Mid and East Antrim Council, with support from the Department for Communities, has reinvented three empty units - one of them at The Tower Centre in Ballymena - to not only revitalise the high street’s appearance, but allow local traders and groups to showcase their products and skills.

The pop-up shop project has been funded by Council and the Department for Communities under the COVID-19 Recovery Revitalisation Programme.

The shops have been designed with a range of multi-functional display fittings and fixtures, shelves and tables.

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Marty and Kim McKay from Jam and Thread are in the Tower Centre Pop Up Shop until Christmas.

The yearlong project started in September and since then, 10 Community Groups and one entrepreneur have already successfully taken up residency in the shops in Ballymena, Carrickfergus and Larne.

For the next few months, the units will house businesses signed up to Mid and East Antrim Council’s Start-up in Retail Programme. This project is enabling start-up businesses to test trade on the high street with minimal risks and costs.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr William McCaughey says this is a welcome boost for the area’s town centres: “We’ve seen the success revamping these units has had already, with many groups using them as a new way to connect with their local communities. With a key focus on recovery post pandemic, the retail focused programme will now enable start-up businesses to test trade with minimal risks and costs.

“Pop-up shops are an exciting global trend in retail and food business. They are a great outlet for innovation and creativity, and can be a good first step for an entrepreneur to test the waters.

“The Start-up in Retail Programme also includes workshops and 1-2-1 mentoring. Through online workshops, these businesses can learn all about developing their brand, marketing their business, how to price their products, selling in-store and on-line and visual merchandising.

“To help our town centres recover post pandemic, we want to support start-up business owners who want to experience trading on the high street, and this partnership with Department for Communities is a perfect way to do this.”

Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey added: “The pop up shops project in the Mid and East Antrim Borough Council area has demonstrated how our space on the high street can be versatile to meet a range of needs. The pop up shops, not only create interest but also allow new businesses a cost effective way to test their market. “It is an excellent example of how the COVID-19 Recovery Revitalisation Programme is helping to create opportunities for recovery across our town centres.”

There are plans for another retail programme to take place in March next year and bookings have already been received for community group residencies up to Easter 2022.

Any group interested in occupying a pop-up shop should contact [email protected]