Innovate Longmont got its start from a program within the Longmont Economic Development Partnership. Now independent from the LEDP, and as a nonprofit, it sows the seeds of community support through its accelerator program. Its evolution continues today with the launch of the Bricks Retail pop-up store.
Located in the Longmont Downtown Development Authority’s retail space at 320 Main St., Bricks will feature a curated collection of local goods.
"I would like, when people walk into the store, for them to feel a sense of local pride," said Jennifer Ferguson, ecosystem builder for Innovate Longmont.
Though the pop-up is in its fledgling stages, Ferguson has a big vision for how it can support members of the accelerator program and the broader Longmont community.
"I'd like it to be a profitable arm that eventually could provide small micro-grants for people starting a new business or for student education," she said.
Bricks will begin with products from 10 vendors, six of whom are member companies of Innovate Longmont's fall accelerator program. The vendors are The AFTER Company, Graphic Revival, Bushwhack Life, Colorado Aromatics, New Beat Foods, EdBoard Technologies, Johnny Sugar Confections, Fools Gold Plant-Based BBQ and Brew Bling, as well as Innovate Longmont.
Lisa Patchem is founder and owner of The AFTER Company, which creates personalized gift boxes for those who want to support family members and friends while they grieve. Patchem also is a participant in the fall accelerator program and is managing the pop-up.
Patchem, a former gift shop manager, said she and Ferguson had been friends for years, and when Ferguson approached her about the concept she was so excited she had to help.
"When she had this idea for a shared retail space, she just wanted my input on what I thought about it. And I loved it so much that I had to become a part of it," Patchem said. “And when she said that the pop-up space was available starting at the end of September, I said, 'Look, let me just set up the retail for you: the (point of sale) system, the inventory, staffing, all that stuff that I've been doing for years.’"
Patchem said she wanted to make sure Ferguson could focus on what she does best — engaging the community.
Ferguson said, "I have two passions — entrepreneurship and Longmont."
The Longmont Downtown Development Authority also wants to see Longmont and its businesses thrive.
"The Downtown Longmont Master Plan includes several major goals. Two of these are to retain and grow locally owned and operated businesses and to attract innovative and entrepreneurial businesses," said LDDA Executive Director Kimberlee McKee.
The partnership between the LDDA and Innovate Longmont provides a new opportunity to achieve those goals.
"The Longmont Downtown Development Authority board is excited to partner with Innovate Longmont on this creative concept," McKee said. "By giving space in-kind, the LDDA hopes to foster these businesses or business concepts becoming a permanent part of downtown Longmont."
Amy Lane, owner of apparel company Graphic Revival, also is a participant in Innovate Longmont's fall accelerator program and her apparel will be featured in the Bricks pop-up shop. Graphic Revival makes eco-friendly wear repurposed from clothing headed for the waste stream.
As with Ferguson, Patchem and McKee, Lane encourages people to support local businesses and entrepreneurs.
"Get out, get off the internet and Amazon and look around the town because there's some cool stuff happening here and some cool products that you can buy," she said.
Many people shop online for convenience, but Lane said it's not always truly a convenient option.
"You never know what you're going to get. If you can go and see things and know, hey, I'm supporting this person whose kid goes to my school or this local person, as part of the community, it's so much more powerful," she said.
Bricks isn’t the only pop-up coming to Longmont. The Longmont Area Chamber of Commerce starting next weekend will hold a pop-up marketplace on four successive Saturdays in the parking lot of Walmart, 2285 E. Ken Pratt Blvd. Businesses are invited to set up in the parking lot to sell products and do demonstrations. There will be space for eight businesses each Saturday. To apply to participate in the pop-up, click here.
Bricks is celebrating its grand opening from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Learn more here.
Correction: Innovate Longmont began as a progrom within Longmont Economic Partnership (not Program).