A mobile marketplace built from reconstructed shipping containers will soon pop up in Memphis — if Shab Chic founders Brian Christion and Ebony Doss can nail down 16 committed vendors.
"We have high hopes," said Christion, a 32-year-old Memphis native. "We know it can be done. It just needs a little push."
Shab Chic can move forward with leasing property when Christion and Doss secure the vendors. More than 30 businesses have applied, and five are committed. They've scouted land in Cooper-Young, along Broad, and in the South Main Arts District. Doss and Christion discussed hosting the marketplace in St. Louis, where Doss is from, due to interest from that city government to assist with the project. Christion says there's been no dialogue between Shab Chic and the city of Memphis, but launching the marketplace in Memphis is a priority.
"The first choice for me is Memphis," said Christion, who has a background in real estate and property management. "Memphis has the most saturated amount of undiscovered talent in the country. We chose Memphis because of the demand for new and innovative outlets for creative business owners. ... I'd rather it be that Shab Chic kicks off in Memphis and other cities follow."
If the project comes to fruition, Shab Chic Marketplace wouldn't be the first pop-up shop Memphians have seen. It would, however, be the largest, based on the scale of their ambitions. The Marketplace will feature 16 vendors. Shops will range from clothing boutiques to art galleries and food vendors, each located in a repurposed shipping container. The Marketplace will also cycle through events like happy hours as well as movie and skate nights.
"We want to create a platform for creative, small business owners and the community," said Doss, 35, whose professional background ranges from medical finance to event planning and promotion. "With a creative background, I want to push the bar and think outside the box. I've always wanted to do something huge, to promote creativity, art, music, and fashion."
Doss and Christion share a mutual adoration for pop-up shops. Small businesses can often struggle through the traditional business model. By establishing a temporary location, vendors have more breathing room to grow their brand. The duo researched building homes from shipping containers, and that led to the idea of a "shipping container mall." If the project works out, Shab Chic will exist in one area for six months, likely between May and October, and move to a different location every year.
"Businesses will finally have a place to test their hand at running their own shop," Christion said. "Our mission is to give businesses a real shot at getting their brand out to the masses."
Each shipping container will be designed by the vendor with assistance from Shab Chic's design team. Shab Chic will cut doors and windows into the container, but will leave the decor to the vendor.
"Too much business without the creativity is a failure," Christion said. "Too much shab and no chic, and it can't work. It's the yin and yang of style — the idea of mixing highs and lows to create your own following."
Interested businesses can apply at shabchicmarketplace.com to be a vendor through Friday, April 8th.