Duluth is offering businesses free rent in six vacant, downtown storefronts for the holiday season.

Dozens want in. The Greater Downtown Council announced the competition Thursday. By Friday, 30 people had applied.

“I said I’d be happy with seven or eight applicants,” said Kristi Stokes, the organization’s president, laughing. “It’s been an overwhelming response.”

A committee will cull the potential pop-up shops this week. There are a few rules: They must be complementary — but not competitive — with neighboring businesses. The storefronts should open by Nov. 30 and stick around until Jan. 10. They pay for utilities.

The contest looks a little like one put on in 2011. The Great Space Giveaway offered businesses with winning business plans a year’s free rent, plus advertising, marketing and mentoring. Two businesses now inhabit formerly empty storefronts downtown.

This competition’s a little looser — no extensive business plans required. But Stokes hopes a few of the holiday pop-ups might last.