If you were in the Loop last week, you may have seen a creative looking crew – cameras and lighting equipment in tow – directing a woman in a fierce green coat back and forth across a busy street. If so, don’t be alarmed, you were simply on the set of Block 37’s most recent photo shoot.
Popcorn. Pop art. Pop-Up Videos (we see you VH1). It seems that all good things pop! Including the best and the brightest ideas for the next big brands. Yes, we’re talking about Block 37’s Next Great Pop-Up. As a refresher, The Next Great Pop-Up is an annual competition of creative smarts where local designers, artists, and makers of all kinds are given the opportunity to win a FREE pop-up space at Block 37. It’s open to established and emerging concepts alike, giving them exposure, start-up money, and a month to show Chicago what they can do.
In prep for the launch of Block 37’s Third Annual Next Great Pop-Up (which opens its doors Sept. 23), we’ve decided to take a walk down memory lane and reminisce on all the amazing pop-up shops that got their start right here at Block 37. From art you wear on your feet to The Foo Fighters, this list contains some pretty amazing ideas. So buckle up, because things are about to get poppin!
Let’s get started on the right foot, shall we? BucketFeet sneakers are without a doubt the most unique sneakers you’ll ever wear. Why? Because every pair is designed by a different artist from around the world. They get paid for both their work and for each new pair sold, which is a great incentive to keep buying fresh new kicks! And that’s not all. Many designs are made in collaboration with non-profits, which then benefit from your purchases. Convinced yet?
It’s easy to see why this biz is making us so proud. What was once a temporary pop-up, has since blossomed before our eyes into a beloved brand with a booming online presence and a permanent home here at Block 37.
The future is here! Or at least it was for a little while. One of Block 37’s most successful pop-ups, Motorola’s Moto Shop was an “experiential boutique” where customers could have a completely personalized smartwatch shopping experience. With all the customization options laid out before you, this techy ‘topia allowed you to build your dream watch right then and there. What’s that picture of a flooring company showroom doing on here? Glad you asked! That’s the Drop Zone, where you could drop the world’s first shatterproof display on any surface – concrete, ceramic, tile – and watch it, well… not shatter. Pretty smart.
Birds of a feather flock together. That’s why Trendy Sparrow and Block 37 are such a perfect pair. As winner of 2015’s Next Great Pop-Up, Trendy Sparrow is dedicated to serving the girl who “sips champagne any day of the week… enjoys eating macaroons for breakfast… and feels just as pretty in sweatpants as in a party dress.” The brand’s sassy personality naturally lends itself to making everyday merch that has something to say, and that’s not afraid to say it.
Although Trendy Sparrow is no longer under Block 37’s roof, their online store is still one of our favorites for go-to gift buying, and we often pick up tips from their blog, where creator Lindzi Shanks talks about everything from books to blouses to bar carts. All with trendy twist, of course.
‘Cause every girl crazy ‘bout a sharp dressed man. Especially if that man is dressed in Indochino. Lots of Chicago men were dressed in Indochino when it set up a pop-up gig inside Block 37, turning boys into gentlemen, and women into puddles. With the goal of giving men convenient access to quality yet affordable menswear, it has since grown to be one of the largest made-to-measure brands on the market. Indochino is now making men all over the world look like a million bucks online. And Block 37 can’t help but feel like a million bucks when we think about its time here!
Ok, so Lollapalooza doesn’t exactly fall under the classic definition of a “pop-up.” BUT the LollaShop does. Full of official branded Lollapalooza gear, as well as collaborations with festival headliners and Chicago sports teams, this shop annually pumps out everything from tees to fanny packs to skateboards, ensuring that visitors show up at the gates decked in their fest best. The best part? They decided to stage it all at Block 37! Or should we say, Rock 37? No? Ok, somebody take our mic.
I bet you were wondering when we’d explain this one, weren’t you? Well, it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Leading up to last year’s much-anticipated show at Wrigley Field, Grohl and the boys decided it would be fun to open a shop where fans could buy official Foo Fighter finery. And for five days, such a place existed. In addition to exclusive designs, posters and out-of-print vinyl, they also played to Chicagoan’s fierce fanaticism with an assortment of of Cubs-related gear. (It’s rumored that to this day you can still hear “Learn to Fly” echoing through the walls of Block 37).
[YOUR NAME IN LIGHTS]
Voting for this year has closed, but that just means that you have an entire 365 days to perfect all those brilliant ideas swirling around your head (we know they’re in there!). This time next year your business could be operating alongside names like Anthropologie, Sephora, Disney, and Zara… just to name a few. Until then, make your way to Block 37 and check out this year’s fantastic winner – TO BE ANNOUNCED VERY, VERY SOON!