MILWAUKEE — Some entrepreneurs are getting a chance to test having a physical store free of charge through a new program called Pop-Up Milwaukee.
Beth Haskovec is with LISC Milwaukee, one of the organizations behind Pop-Up MKE. She told WUWM-FM that the program takes empty storefronts and converts them into retail space, which participants can use rent-free for a month.
The program aims to help startups build their business while also improving the area's historic corridors, Haskovec said.
"We need to spend some time investing, especially in business owners of color so that we can build their businesses to stay in those neighborhoods so that they aren't displaced by all of the investment and energy that's happening downtown, especially with the new arena," Haskovec said.
Tiffany Miller is one of the 19 minority entrepreneurs who've worked with the program. She runs Fly Blooms, which makes a variety of products including handbags, earrings and lapel pins.
Miller said the program has helped her overcome stigma attached to black business owners.
"Like anything negative about a business that can be said, that's what society tells us about our business, which isn't a fair or true reflection of what we actually do," Miller said.
The pop-up-shop program has allowed her company to share retail space with three other businesses run by black female entrepreneurs. Fly Blooms will be at the pop-up shop until Sept. 16. Miller said she plans to continue selling products online and at festivals after that date.
The organizations that began Pop-Up MKE are working to secure additional funding so the project can continue.