Mitchell’s biggest tourist attraction is providing small businesses an opportunity to sell their products during events at the Corn Palace, helping support the local economy, one pop-up shop at a time.
Corn Palace Director Doug Greenway envisioned the idea of pop-up shops prior to his first day on the job. Similar to kiosks found in malls, Greenway charges a percentage fee for each pop-up shop that sets up in the Corn Palace lobby. Greenway said 15% of the total sales each pop-up shop brings in during the allotted time is how the rental fee is structured.
“The intent is to promote small business and Main Street businesses to a large group of people who are experiencing the Corn Palace at a sports game or event,” Greenway said. “It’s not about the sales. We just want to justify and make it fair for everyone because some pop-up shops may have sold a lot of products, while others may use it more for a marketing opportunity.”
As basketball spectators from across the country were funneling in and out of the Corn Palace during the recent Hoop City Classic, set up in the front entrance of the lobby was Adorn Boutique. It marked the second pop-up shop the Corn Palace welcomed in 2019, as Dakota Wesleyan University’s bookstore was the first to set up during a recent home basketball game. Although colleges and schools don't fall in the category of small businesses, Greenway said it's a great way for the local and area schools to sell athletic apparel and spirit wear to the respective fans.
Lydia Brink, sales associate at Adorn Boutique and owner of L&J Kreations, said her first pop-up shop experience was a success in multiple ways. While she was pleased with the sales numbers after the second consecutive day in the Corn Palace lobby, Brink said the exposure alone helped guide a handful of shoppers down Main Street to Adorn’s storefront.
“I’ve had a lot of people stop by and browse our selection and ask where we’re located,” Brink said. “With halftimes in the middle of games, there is a decent amount of time for people to move around and check things out. These pop-up shops not only help local businesses but they give people more things to do during a break.”
Considering the online retail era has negatively impacted brick-and-mortar stores, Brink said she’s grateful to see Main Street businesses and the Corn Palace work together to keep downtown Mitchell energized.
“If you only get one sale throughout the entire day, no big deal. But if you have people stop by and take your card, that's another great for marketing and advertising,” Brink said. “It’s so important for downtown stores and any city entity to work with each other and not against each other.”
The early success that Adorn and DWU have experienced with their pop-up shops has caught the eye of more local retailers, as Two Dreams Boutique, a clothing and accessories store, will become the third pop-up shop set up during the upcoming Hanson Classic in late January at the Corn Palace.
Greenway is encouraging businesses and entities who are interested in setting up a pop-up shop to contact the Corn Palace to make arrangements.
“We look forward to welcoming businesses here at the Corn Palace, and I hope it continues to expose people to the unique stores we have on Main Street,” Greenway said.