Kansas City's pop-up pioneer Jessica Rogers is behind CartWheel.

CartWheel's Jessica Rogers looks to the next pop-up frontier 

Kansas City's pop-up pioneer Jessica Rogers is behind CartWheel.

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Kansas City, Missouri's most restrictive rule for pop-ups is an ordinance mandating that street vendors stay at least 50 feet away from established businesses selling similar items. Rogers and her pop-up pals say they haven't brushed up against this dictate, and she says the run-in with Monty Summers remains the most significant issue they've had so far.

Pajor says the question of where to sell poses the biggest challenge for pop-ups. The low-cost, relatively easy model lures new businesspeople, but they still depend on customer volume.

A year ago, when vendors asked him where they could sell, he referred them to Nate's Swap Shop on East 63rd Street. Now, marketplaces are sprouting faster than he can track and include Katz Midtown Market. In September, Redeemer Fellowship church turned the former Katz Drug Store site, at Westport Road and Main Street, into a community building that holds an indoor and outdoor market the first Saturday of each month. Farmers, artists and other vendors sell goods there, and visi­bility is substantial.

"All this spontaneous retail has spawned in recent months," Pajor says. "It's amazing how resourceful these people are. It's fascinating to sit back and watch this."

Observers of the pop-up culture also are looking at the local undertaking called POP. Backed by a Charlotte Street Foundation and Spencer Museum of Art Rocket Grant, POP's organizers have launched what they call a "series of social happenings." So far, the events have consisted of such things as yoga classes, dinners and a barter-driven art market, each with separate temporary locations. The artists behind the project say the point is to find common ground with various community groups while blurring the lines between art and life.

"We're taking a lesson from the classic lemonade stand here," says Lacey Wozny, who brainstormed POP with Maria Calderon. "You're street-level in a really immediate way, where you're inviting participation from a broader audience that wouldn't necessarily feel comfortable walking into a known entity."

Rogers' CartWheel was among the vendors at last month's POP Trading Post, where no money was allowed. The currency for these goods and services was in trade only. The University of Missouri–Kansas City's Gallery of Art in the Fine Arts Building held the public event two Thursdays in September, and for a week, the gallery displayed a shrine representing the alternative exchange. Its title: "Locality As Reliquary."

"We're a rich, rich community in noncurrency ways," says Wozny, who previously served as assistant director at Grand Arts and completed a fellowship with Mildred's Lane Historical Society and Museum. "Who doesn't want to walk up to a bus painted in bright colors like CartWheel and shop? Or a tiny Airstream trailer serving tapas, with a beautiful woman sticking her head out the window?" she adds, referring to El Tenedor KC. "And it's all within the backdrop of a cityscape where you have the whole landscape before you rather than just more stores and walls. You feel like you've been let in on a secret."


Find the one thing you're really good at and stick with it."

Rogers heard that over and over again while growing up and as a student at Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia. The mantra didn't sit well with her.

"Why do I have to find this one thing?" she wondered. "Why can't I make art, bring people together and teach?"

She majored in fiber and minored in printmaking, a coupling that she says catered to her broad ambitions by allowing her to dabble in screen-printing and weaving and felting and points in between. She designed leggings with a trippy pattern ("rastapasta," she called it) one day and made pretty earrings from feathers the next.

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