DIY Downtown: Spaceworks Tacoma, indie retailers fill vacant storefront

A new retailer has opened in a former vacant storefront in downtown Tacoma thanks in part to the innovative Spaceworks Tacoma program. Poppy & Co., located at 765 Broadway, is a co-op of local furniture painters that includes Next, Mod Century, The Modern Cottage Company with Bride on a Bike, and Euphemeral Designs with Restoration House Interiors.

This is the third small business that Spaceworks Tacoma has stabilized into a formerly vacant retail space in the past six months, according to Tacoma Arts Administrator Amy McBride.

“Poppy & Co. is the first business that has transitioned out of a Spaceworks location to lease and fill another empty storefront in downtown,” said McBride. “We’re investing in the next generation of startup businesses and organizations, and laying the groundwork for a sustainable, creative economy in Tacoma.”

Spaceworks Tacoma is a joint initiative of the City of Tacoma, the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, and Shunpike designed to activate empty storefronts and vacant space in downtown Tacoma. The initiative makes no- and low-cost temporary space available to artists, fledgling creative entrepreneurs, organizations and community groups.

Since starting in 2010, Spaceworks has supported 26 active projects, exhibited 54 large-scale art installations, incubated three new businesses into previously vacant locations, activated 22 underused spaces in the downtown footprint, and supported over 100 events and performances.

“Spaceworks gave us the opportunity to test out our business model and tweak it so that it works,” said Poppy & Co. co-founder and The Modern Cottage Company owner Alison Bryan. “Sales are up 50 percent and we’re here to stay!”

Poppy & Co. will celebrate its grand opening on Sept. 14.

Locations for Spaceworks Tacoma are provided by property owners Ted Johnson, Herb Simon, Steve Rose, the Marie T. Wilson Trust and AT&T. Support for Spaceworks Tacoma is provided by The Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, Harborstone Credit Union, Landau & Associates and Tacoma Contemporary. Community partners include Broadway Center for the Performing Arts, King’s Books and BLRB architects.

More information is online here.