Pop-Up Fair Course - Revive Your Dead Downtown by SaveYour.Town

Help! Our downtown is dead! What can we do to make it a lively place?

That’s the question that we hear most often. And there are lots of ways to answer, lots of things you could try. We’ve decided to coach you through one idea–just one idea–that will work in a town of 500 or could scale up for a town of 50,000.

The One Idea: A Pop Up Business Fair

What is it?
It’s a festival of local businesses, artists, direct marketers, home-based businesses and others who have neat stuff to sell, creating pop-up temporary businesses right on your downtown sidewalks, just for one day!

Why call it a pop up?
Pop ups are kind of a new and popular idea, but really, we’re talking about a pretty familiar idea. You’ve seen a county fair with business booths, or people setting up business sales tables at local events. This is a fresh take on that old idea. More than just plain old display tables, businesses will create temporary stores–pop-ups–that generate more excitement.

Does this work in really small towns, under 1,000 people?
Yes, because you’ll focus on the smartest ways to build some excitement with the fewest resources. We’ll coach you with ideas. Even if you can’t figure out how to start this as a big event, DO IT ANYWAY. You need a place to start, and next time it will be bigger. When the snowball starts down the hill, it’s very small. But you have to push it over the edge first!

Does this work in larger towns, with 10,000 or more people?
Yes, because you’ll get to pick the best section of town to work with, and you’ll have more potential pop-ups to draw on. We’ll coach you with ideas tailored to your resources.

Pop-up Fairs bring people downtown

Why this pop-up idea and not some other project?


  1. It’s not a hard idea. It’s a temporary, one day in and out, event.
  2. It builds enthusiasm. People will get excited and excitement is catching.
  3. It brings attention and interest downtown, right where you need it most.
  4. It supports your local businesses you already have, both the downtown businesses and the other businesses that participate as pop-ups.
  5. Even if you have no businesses now, it’s a way to give people a first start in business. They can create a pop-up store just for one day, and that might just give them a jump start to a bigger business idea.
  6. It works in any size town.
  7. It showcases your community.

So what’s in this mini-course?
It’s a lot more than just the idea. You can take the idea for free, just like we’ve described it. In this course, you’re getting the HOW-TO and the focus on IMPLEMENTATION. We’ll be talking you through the process. We’ll answer your questions. We’ll help you tackle problems. When you take the course, you have us in your corner.

What will we get?
You’ll get a series of lessons over four weeks, walking you through the whole process step by step, and a post-event lesson in week five. You can do them at your own pace, save them for later, or even print them out if you like. However you work best.

Can we pull this off in just four weeks?
Deb managed to pull of the Tour of Empty Buildings in just four weeks. Becky pulled off a big conference in six weeks. So, yeah, you can do it. Don’t try to do it all alone. We both found a few key people to help out. And don’t try to get everything done. Just focus on getting enough done. There will always be more things you can add next time. This time, just do enough to make it a success.

Will you help me?
We’re always there by email. On every page in the course, you’ll find a form that sends us a direct message. You can ask us anything. We’ll both pitch in and share our best thoughts to help you succeed.

Should I do this?
Implementation is the watch word! The idea is worth nothing if you don’t implement it. So we want to coach you through this process from right now until you actually have pop-ups on your sidewalks, all the way through a debrief on what went right. Then the goal is for you to take this success, and build on it with more activity and life for your downtown. Because it’s all about taking your downtown from feeling dead, to being a lively place.

Pop-Up Fair Course - Revive Your Dead Downtown

If you aren’t satisfied with the course, let us know in the first 30 days. We’ll refund your money.

Real world results

I’ve great confidence in this new online course in holding a Pop-Up Fair because I’ve seen great things shaped within the clever, careful hands of the creators. Deb Brown is the director of the Webster City Area Chamber of Commerce in Iowa. She just held a Junque Market Pop-Up Fair in Webster City, bringing thousands of people into the community to not only shop at the event but to spend money locally and become more familiar with Webster City. Becky McCray is a retail store owner from Alva, Oklahoma and publisher of Small Biz Survival. She’s traveled to hundreds of cities and towns to help the interested community members revitalize existing businesses and stimulate growth. You will learn A LOT about pop-up fairs from them.
Jonya at Rochester Fibers

How one small town took the Pop-Ups idea and ran with it

Jeanne Cole is a downtown business owner, part-time chamber employee, and a long time chamber volunteer in the town of Waynoka, Oklahoma, population 990. She took the Pop-up Mini Course and lead the planning of a Pop-up Fair in September. She shared these great photos from her event, and we asked her how she put what she learned into action.

How did you pick your date? What influenced your decision?
We wanted to ensure a good crowd for the first event so we chose a date that would give us that. Our town holds a once-every-five-years all-school reunion, and we chose that weekend Saturday afternoon to hold the event. Our town has a lot of vacant buildings, and we had a desire to fill some of the space with activity to give the alumni something to do in our downtown area. We’d just finished a sidewalk and street project and this was another reason to draw visitors downtown.

How many vendors signed up? How many actually participated?
We had 14 vendors sign up and 10 actually participated. Two were sick and one had car trouble, one just didn’t show!

You had a good variety of offerings. Did anyone surprise you with their pop-up?

The pop corn vendor was a surprising success! She came from Texas, and was one of our alumni so she had a vested interest in the event. She was extremely happy with her sales for the afternoon.
How did you pick your location in downtown?
We chose a street with existing open businesses to compliment the pop up vendors. The existing businesses welcomed the vendors, shared bathrooms with them and shopped with them as well. We felt it was better to showcase existing vendors than empty buildings.

Why did you put the pop-ups in the streets rather than on the sidewalks?
We decided that our sidewalks were not wide enough to allow foot traffic with the vendors set up on them. We were able to block the street and allow the vendors to set up just adjacent to the curbs. This facilitated foot traffic of the sidewalk and down the middle of the street and allowed some measure of safety to those walking and crossing back and forth between the vendors on either side.

How many storefront businesses participated? Did they let you know how it went for them?
Just two store fronts were open for business during the pop up fair. Both reported good business and enjoyed having the pop up vendors in town.

How was customer turnout for the Pop-up Fair?
Customer turn out was pretty brisk most of the day. The temperatures were pretty warm in the middle of the afternoon and slowed the traffic a little. We also had tourist visitors for the afternoon,

What did you think overall? Will you do it again?
We thought the event went very well and yes, we have already scheduled a follow up event for October 24. We will hold this in conjunction with a fall fest.

Any advice for others thinking about doing a Pop-up Fair?
The information provided from Becky and Deb throughout the planning process really helped out a lot! I think every community should evaluate what they have and how best to showcase potential to the pop ups and keep the existing businesses involved and encouraging.

Pop-Up Fair Course - Revive Your Dead Downtown

If you aren’t satisfied with the course, let us know in the first 30 days. We’ll refund your money.
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