Pop-up businesses spark downtown revitalization

Flores and his family gathered at The Guild to check out an animal rights activism film. Photo by Justine Lopez / NM News Port

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller unveiled a new business initiative to invite pop-up vendors to fill vacant business spaces downtown. This initiative is part of the One Albuquerque: Engage  campaign and will feature a variety of local businesses and artisans to occupy spaces at 505 Central Avenue. This plan for economic development is aimed to showcase the potential for these spaces and aims to encourage public safety.   

“We’re really looking to fill vacant spaces to affect the whole environment,” said Director of Marketing and Innovation Carlos Contreras. “More feet on the street and more eyes on the street. Just a more engaged area… we think that we can affect public safety and our local economy fairly positively in one effort.”

Contreras works on the committee for One Albuquerque alongside project manager Eric Renz-Whitmore. One of the focuses of the Economic Development department under the Keller administration is to shed light on the creative economy in Albuquerque and to quickly implement these types of economic initiatives.

“The whole effort has really been one of what you can call ‘strategic doing’,” Contreras said. “You do it once, look at it, see what worked, what didn’t… it’s a very organic process.”

Carlos Contreras emerged from Albuquerque’s creative scene to join the city administration. He has over 15 years of experience in the city’s creative economy. Photo by Justine Lopez / NM News Port

The first trial of the pop-up took place early in September at the SOMOS Albuquerque event and again for the First Friday ARTS crawl for September. Victor Flores and his wife Karla Reyes organized the featured pop-up called Plant Powered Events. The two worked with the city’s Economic Development Department and Mark Baker, owner of 505 Central Avenue, to put together this pop-up.

Flores works for the international non-profit Vegan Outreach, and created Plant Powered Events to highlight the different facets of the vegan community. His mission is to educate the public about veganism and to make these markets accessible to everyone.  

“There’s different aspects that you can portray to different people to really show them the vegan message,” Flores said. “For so long, it has been looked at as an angled movement. People being able to relate to it is important and people being able to eat something that is delicious is important.”

The schedule of the pop-up vendors is still in the works, but Flores hopes it can be incorporated into the events occurring on First Fridays. Vendors and community organizers who wish to participate in this initiative are encouraged to contact the Economic Development Department.

Justine Lopez is a freelance reporter at the New Mexico News Port. She can be contacted at jmlopez1215@unm.edu or on Twitter @justine_lopez95.