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Baraboo nonprofits picked for fall pop-up shops

August 17, 2018

Two local nonprofits will enjoy temporary homes downtown this fall as Baraboo renews its pop-up shop program.

Baraboo Children’s Museum and the International Crane Foundation were selected for the program’s second season. Applicants get to use free downtown retail space from October through the end of the year.

Downtown Baraboo Inc., the city’s Business Improvement District, the Chamber of Commerce and corporate sponsors launched the program to give fledgling businesses an opportunity to benefit from greater exposure during the holiday shopping season. Nonprofit organizations need exposure, too.

“We try to bring diversity to downtown,” said Sarah Fay, a downtown merchant who serves as the BID board’s president.

The pop-up shops’ locations will be announced once terms are reached with landlords. Ribbon-cutting ceremonies will coincide with the Oct. 13 fall Fair on the Square.

“New business to the downtown isn’t just a success for our downtown but for our entire business community,” said Bobbie Boettcher, executive director of the Baraboo Area Chamber of Commerce. “Keeping downtown alive and vibrant continues to make it, and our area, a destination.”

The International Crane Foundation wanted to open a pop-up shop to ensure the organization retains a local presence while its rural Baraboo headquarters undergoes a $10 million renovation set to start Oct. 31. The nonprofit educates the public about cranes and works to preserve their habitat around the world.

Chief Operating Officer Kim Smith said if things go well, ICF might establish a permanent home downtown for gift shop sales.

Fay shares that outlook. “I’m hoping once they hang out downtown they’ll prosper,” she said. “I think they’ll do well in our artsy downtown.”

Jed and Traci Crouse established the Baraboo Children’s Museum earlier this year, bringing educational activities to community events. Becoming a pop-up shop will give the “museum on the move” a brick-and-mortar presence. Jed Crouse said a three-month stint downtown will give the nonprofit a chance to introduce itself to the public and prove itself to prospective donors.

“It’s going to make us really visible,” he said. “When you’re asking people for money, you have to prove that you’re into it and you’re doing it right.”

Pursuing a vision of teaching kids up to age 12 practical lessons through play, the Crouses hope eventually to secure a 10,000 square-foot building for the museum. Establishing a pop-up shop is a step toward that goal.

“I think that’ll be worth its weight in gold,” Crouse said.

Applicants must submit business plans and go through interviews before being selected for the program. They’re given the use of vacant storefronts, or offered a partnership with an existing business with excess space to offer.

“You have to be really serious and know what you’re going to do,” Fay said.

The pop-up shop program got off to a strong start last year with the selection of home-brewed coffee makers Spirit Lake Coffee Roasters, wood furniture maker Urbanwood Studio and repurposed home décor maker From My Porch. The first two went on to land permanent homes downtown, with Spirit Lake Coffee renting Con Amici Wine Bar by day, and Urbanwood moving into an Oak Street storefront. Meanwhile, From My Porch has placed merchandise inside downtown shops.

“While the three businesses that participated in the program last year have moved in location, they all stayed downtown in a more permanent capacity, adding to the flavor of the whole environment,” Boettcher said.

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