Pop-ups battle for free space at Fairlane mall

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News
Customers take a break from shopping at the Fairlane Town Center in Dearborn on Thanksgiving Day.

Fairlane Town Center joins the list of malls nationwide on Friday when it hosts a pop-up challenge,  where entrepreneurs vie for free space for their product. 

The winner of "The Challenge: Battle of the Pop-Up Contest" receives four months of free rent at the mall. 

The prize includes store fixtures and free utilities as well as a $500 merchandising package that includes interior signs, displays and graphic design services worth $4,000. 

Applications are opened to entrepreneurs of new, existing or online concepts until March 30. Contestants will be notified by April 19 if they've been selected. The nationwide winners will launch their stores on June 1 and operate them through Sept. 30, according to the official rules. 

According to the rules, applicants will be judged on business strategy, creativity, projected profitability, writing skills, how effectively the business will fit into the location and overall appeal. 

The contest, sponsored by Starwood Retail Partners, is being held at 19 other malls in California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Virgina and Washington State.

Sam Constantine, owner of End Grain Woodworking Co., said a recent pop-up at Cadillac Square Holiday Market helped expand his business. 

"It definitely helps ... The amount of traffic we got in just a short time was incredible," he said. "It's really about getting your brand out there and it expanded our customer base with at least 300 to 400 more 'likes' on our Facebook page."

Constantine also said his company received a jump in inquiries regarding custom pieces.

He said vendors selling locally made products should jump at the opportunity. 

"It's a good opportunity to be out in a public space like that," he said. "We received lots of positive feedback about our product being made in Michigan. Buying local is a trend right now. It's a great opportunity, especially in malls, where more of the items are mass produced."

To enter "The Challenge: Battle of the Pop-Up Contest" 

  • Applications can be filled out and submitted online by downloading The Challenge Application.pdf and emailing it to thechallenge@starwoodretail.com 
  • Submit by visiting the mall management office at 18900 Michigan Ave., Dearborn.