Dillard’s opens state’s first ‘pop up’ store

October 13, 2011

Business

The morning of Oct. 13, Dillard’s, best known as a mall anchor, opened a new store in the historic downtown Iupe’s Building in Canton in conjunction with the Canton Flea Market.

At 5 p.m. the following day, it promptly closed.

But, it could be back.

A joint venture of retailer Dillard’s Department Store and the Canton Chamber Main Street Association, the Dillard’s-Canton “pop up” store represented a first for Mississippi.

The pop up store concept is simple: A community offers space to a retailer free of charge for a limited time, sometimes merely for days such as in Canton, usually in conjunction with a holiday or event. The return for the community is landing more visitors – and their wallets. The community can also showcase its downtown and available space.

The retailer uses the pop up as a “satellite” location, reaching out beyond it store walls to new consumers who have come with one mission – browse and shop.

“The concept is currently a big buzzword. This is new for Mississippi, but other communities have found success with pop up stores,” said Lise Foy, director of the Canton Chamber Main Street Association, who emphasized that Dillard’s was not a Canton Flea Market vendor, but rather was invited to help boost traffic and offer flea market shoppers another option.

In addition to hearing about the success of pop up stores from her Main Street peers in other markets, Foy attended the Creative Economy Summit presented by the Mississippi Development Authority and the Mississippi Arts Commission in Jackson back in August. One of the event’s breakout sessions discussed the pop up store concept.

Looking to add traffic and showcase downtown Canton, Foy contacted Dillard’s, the Little Rock, Ark.-based retailer that operates stores in Mississippi and 28 other states.

“I made one call to see if they were interested,” Foy said. “(George Tanner, Dillard’s-Northpark store manager) said ‘yes,’ and that was it.”

Dillard’s offered clothing, accessories, fragrances, jewelry and more at the Canton store.

Tanner said helping the community was the overriding reason for Dillard’s participation.

However, he added that Dillard’s also was hoping for good sales. The Canton Flea Market, held on the lawn of the historic Madison County Courthouse, has become one of the largest outdoor crafts market in the South. Held in May and October annually, it began in 1965 as an art show with local artists hanging their paintings on the wrought iron fence surrounding the grounds of the Courthouse.

Today, the event draws thousands of visitors and up to 1,000 artists and craftsmen from across the country annually.

The Dillard’s pop up store was located in the Iupe’s Building at the intersection of Peace and Union streets on the southwest corner of the Canton Square known as Lutz Corner.

The two-story building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and was originally a saloon when it opened its doors in 1896. Over its history, it has been a bank and housed cotton-trading offices, among others.

The current owners, the Iupe family, operated a dry goods store there for years, but the building has been vacant for more than a year now.

The City of Canton hopes the pop up Dillard’s will give the building new life. The city has used vacant buildings for special events in the past, and according to Foy, one event led directly to a building’s purchase.

“It’s like a Realtor wanting to show a house with furniture in it,” Foy said, adding that finding a willing building owner to offer his facility for free is a challenge and obviously key to the project’s success.

Another entity hoping for a boost from the Dillard’s-Canton pop up store is MadCAAP (Madison Countians Allied Against Poverty). MadCAAP is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to assisting families living in poverty in Madison County.

Dillard’s-Canton donated 10 percent of all of its sales to MadCAAP.

Tanner preferred to call the pop up store a “charity sales event,” and said Dillard’s has been offering similar events in hospitals as fundraisers.

The MBJ went to press before the event. Foy said in an interview Oct. 11 that the Dillard’s pop up was a “pilot,” but she hoped it was the first of more pop up projects.

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