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VOL. 131 | NO. 71 | Friday, April 8, 2016

Pop-Up Retail Concept Housed in Shipping Containers

By Madeline Faber

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A local entrepreneur is looking to bring an innovative marketplace made out of shipping containers to Memphis.

“It’s like a real shopping mall but for pop-up shops,” said Brian Christion, who recently returned to Memphis after a real estate career in New York City.

In 2011, Christion launched the concept at an empty lot in Brooklyn. Dubbed DeKalb Market, the outdoor venue was made up of 22 shipping containers with goods for sale ranging from tacos to vintage clothes.

“The only thing that needed to be modified was that we were doing it in the most expensive city on the planet,” said Christion.

Organizers behind the Dekalb Market in Brooklyn are working to bring a similar shipping container market to Memphis.


For what he is calling the Memphis Shab Chic market, he’s looking at 16 vendors across 20 shipping containers. The repurposed containers are 20 feet long and will be hooked up to electricity and WiFi and renovated with windows and sliding doors.

“What we'll be doing is giving you a blank canvas. The idea is for the vendors to bring the creativity,” he said.

Christion’s team will do the build-out of the individual containers, and site construction will take around 25 days. He hopes to fill the remaining eight vendor spaces by mid-April and have the market open for business by the summer. The market would run until Oct. 31.

“The only hurdles we’re coming across are the vendors and their commitment behind it,” he said. “We're not reaching out to established businesses. We're trying to give opportunities to people that have great ideas and a great product.”

Shab Chic will sublease from the existing owners of the lot. A vendor would then lease a shipping container for $1,000 to $1,200 a month.

The market would have regular hours six days a week as well as programming like movie nights and live music.

The location for the market is still being hammered out. Christion has narrowed the search to Loeb Properties’ empty lot at the corner of Central and Cooper, Wiseacre Brewery on Broad Avenue and an empty lot west of Gus’s Fried Chicken Downtown.

If Shab Chic lands at 2120 Central Ave., it would fulfill an earlier, somewhat similar vision for the site. Last year, restaurateurs Taylor Berger and Michael Tauer scrapped plans for The Truck Stop, a food truck court complete with a bar and restaurant constructed out of shipping containers. At the time, they cited financial concerns and zoning limitations.

Helping Christion in the location search is Ben Orgel, who is behind pop-up beer gardens at Tennessee Brewery Revival and Station 3: The Memphis Fire Haus.

“I think it will be successful,” Orgel said. “I think it’s an amazing idea. Anything innovative and cool coming to Memphis I’d love to support.”

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