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Quickstarter explores 'pop-up shop' concept

Thursday, March 2, 2017

It’s been called any number of things: flash retailing, temporary retail, pop-ups; put simply, they are temporary retail spaces that sell merchandise of any kind. They’ve become a popular alternative to bricks-and-mortar stores in many large urban cities. Putting the concept to work in Erie is Ben Hyman, who is hosting his second Brainchild’s Pop-Up Shop on Sunday, March 12, at Urraro Art Gallery, 135 W. 14th St., from noon to 5 p.m. His efforts are being assisted by Mercyhurst University's Quickstarter program, headed by intelligence studies associate professor Kristan Wheaton, and students from Mercyhurst, Penn State Behrend, Gannon and Edinboro.

Hyman’s second foray into the avant-garde marketplace is focused on local artists; he says he expects more than a dozen vendors. Among them are Kristi Caflisch, with her natural soy “ChinchillaMade Candles;” Todd Paropacic, on-the-spot portraits; Rachael Webb, clothing designs; Will Baldauf, original paintings; and Chris Sexaur, low-rez paintings. Hyman will be selling records and an odd assortment of other items, including local hand-made puppets, t-shirts, and more.

Hyman’s short-term goal is to change the art scene in Erie by organizing a string of pop-up stores where shoppers can purchase one-of-a-kind pieces produced by local artists.

“So many talented artists call this place home and we need more art,” said Hyman. “The more folks show up to check this pop-up out, the closer we are to a cooler place to live.”

Hyman’s long-term goal is to launch a Kickstarter campaign with the support of Mercyhurst University’s Quickstarter initiative that will seek crowdfunding for a permanent store, which will be known as Brainchild's Wonder Factory.

“The pop-ups will help us understand the market for these kinds of products and help us build a buzz,” he said. “Once we have a good feel for what is working, we will utilize crowdfunding to get the store up and running.”   

Mercyhurst’s Quickstarter team is assisting Hyman with his pop-up store while gearing up for his Kickstarter campaign. The Mercyhurst Quickstarter initiative is funded by the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority’s Ignite Erie: Industry-University Business Acceleration Collaborative, led by Mercyhurst and Penn State Behrend.

Quickstarter uses the talents of university students across Erie County. This particular project is headed by Mercyhurst’s Emily Platt as manager. She is assisted by fellow Mercyhurst students Trang Nguyen and Michael Mongera, along with Alex Hurley of Edinboro University. Platt is also in the process of hiring two more student workers, including a communications major from Gannon University.

For more information, or to save a vendor space, contact Hyman at 814-897-6095 or