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VOL. 132 | NO. 220 | Monday, November 6, 2017

Shipping Container Retail Village Coming to Medical District

By Andy Meek

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A shipping container retail village is planning to open in the Memphis Medical District in mid- to late-November as part of an effort to give entrepreneurs a creative alternative to traditional bricks and mortar.

The Shab Chic Marketplace at The Edge will set up across from Edge Alley. It will be comprised of intricately designed shipping containers for a pop-up retail experience that combines small business concepts with the opportunity for community engagement.

Co-founder Ebony Doss says to think festivals, movie nights, cook-offs, that sort of thing.

The effort has also just finished collecting applications from entrepreneurs who want to take part.

“However,” Doss said, “we will be opening the applications back up probably within the next few weeks to a month. So we can start gearing up for the new vendors that may want to come in after the leases are up for the current vendors.

“Right now, we have about 20-something applications. Out of those, we’re going to narrow it down to about five, and then from there we’ll start a small interview process with those five, and we’ll choose the top three or four after that.”

The plan is to then rotate those vendors every six months or so.

“The concept is about essentially creating a space for small business owners to kind of try out what it’s like to have their own store,” Doss said. “And the store will be made uniquely out of a shipping container. It will make up basically a retail container lot, which will allow the community to come in and shop locally with those brands. It’ll also be available to do private events, so individuals will be able to rent the space. That’s essentially the concept.

“It’s a space meant to bring the community together, but it’s also a space to help people like us entrepreneurs, small business owners that want to get out there and get their hands dirty and want to open a shop without the normal brick and mortar.”

The plan for the space has been in the works for a while. Shab Chic Marketplace’s co-founder, Brian Christion, told the Daily News last year he was already looking at the shipping container concept back then – he referred to it as “a real shopping mall but for pop-up shops.”

Christion said it would have regular hours six days a week, as well as programming like movie nights and live music. Locations considered included the corner of Central Avenue and Cooper Street, Wiseacre Brewery on Broad Avenue and a vacant lot west of Gus’s Fried Chicken Downtown.

Doss said the Memphis Medical District Collaborative jumped on the idea of partnering with the concept that’s now only a few weeks from opening. And Abby Miller, the collaborative’s director of programs and data, calls it a perfect fit with the group’s community and economic development work, where it’s focused on bringing new concepts and small businesses to the medical district.

“In our work with the Edge neighborhood, we’re really trying to focus sort of on continuing to build and revitalize the commercial corridor along Monroe,” Miller said. “We love supporting this idea, because it’s a really great, fast way we can sort of infill the area with active, vibrant businesses and continue to incubate small businesses in the district.”

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