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Erik Eliason Headshot

Turning Vacant Spaces Into Vibrant Squares With Pop Up Shops

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Many cities across the U.S. have experienced a drought of talent, shops, and activity in their urban core. Retailers such as Borders, Circuit City, Best Buy, and others are closing their doors and downsizing to smaller footprint stores. But it's not all doom and gloom. In fact, there is a renaissance of sorts happening in cities across the U.S. In Brooklyn, New York they're hosting pop up markets in abandoned warehouses. In Los Angeles, the fashion truck revolution is popping up in forgotten parking lots. And in San Francisco, the pop up shop movement is filling vacant spaces and empowering makers to sell their wares.

SQFT, an idea that was conceived at Creative Currency's 48-hour hackathon, is an online platform that connects entrepreneurial renters with short-term leases in the Mid-Market neighborhood of San Francisco. For decades, San Francisco's Central and Mid-Market area has struggled with a number of challenges -- high vacancy rates, grave physical blight, dwindling private investment, persistent homelessness, compromised citizen safety, and suffering small businesses. Yet it has true assets -- a central location, superior transit access, a diverse population, vibrant community and arts organizations, noteworthy architecture, and an abundance of public spaces.

SQFT is changing the environment via a its official launch event, 'By the SQFT: Popping up in Mid-Market.' on Wednesday, August 1. The event will feature round-the-clock pop-up activity along the Market Street corridor, livening the streets with retail, food, music, games and other activities. The event runs from 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Grab a cup of joe in the morning from De La Paz Coffee Roasters. Lunch will feature Alicia's Tamales, Pop Nation popsicles, Curiosity Atlas booth, Etsy Stores in the flesh! The afternoon includes Streetside Chess + Pop up Library. And the evening is topped off with homefries game night and drinks.

Below is a complete schedule of the day's activities:
// COMMUTE + CAFFEINATE //
7:30am - 9:30am
Free bicycle repairs by Huckleberry Bicycles
Coffee by De La Paz Coffee Roasters (regular price)
Location: Huckleberry newsstand kiosk, 1073 Market Street

// EAT + SHOP + DRUM //
11:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Alicia's Tamales, Pop Nation popsicles, Curiosity Atlas booth, Etsy Stores in the flesh!
Location: International Museum of America, 1025 Market Street

12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
West African drum class
Location: International Museum of America, 1025 Market Street

11:30 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Onigilly (Japanese cuisine) + Jablow's Meats
Location: SF Food Lab, 1106 Market Street

// COMPETE + READ //
2:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Streetside Chess + Pop up Library
Location: 6th & Market

// UNWIND + RELAX //
5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Level 1 hour Power Yoga class led by Kate Clemens of YogiBreak
Location: GAFFTA, 923 Market Street

// PLAY + DRINK //
7:00 p.m.- 11:00 p.m.
homefrys Game Night and drinks
Location: A Temporary Offering + SF Food Lab, 1106 Market Street