Open Pop Up Shops San Antonio5Our first OPEN Downtown Pop up Shops experience took place during December 2014. Vacant store fronts were illuminated for the holiday seasons with gorgeous new interiors and a fresh stock of items. This year, OPEN has four pop up shops on Commerce Street in St. Paul Square on the Eastside. In each store, at least two different retailers have set up shop, creating a magnificent shopping experience. With goods ranging from dog treats to art to men’s shoes, we hope OPEN will bring quite a crowd to the forgotten St. Paul Square.

Open Pop Up Shops San Antonio2Open Pop Up Shops San Antonio3open2-open4-Open Pop Up Shops San AntonioJacqueline and I pulled into a parking spot at 5:51 p.m. and walked not even a quarter of a block on East Commerce before we hit the first pop shop appropriately titled “Culture”. Located at 1167 E. Commerce, “Culture” featured:

E & C Designs – fine goods imported from Mexico including handmade silver jewelry, home décor and textiles

Sweet Craft Jewelry – handmade polymer clay food jewelry

Scarlette Dove – handmade Mexican folk art

HERNÁN – packaged Mexican chocolate, Mexican hot chocolate and mole sauces with prep tools

I wanted to buy everything for my familia! The art, the jewelry and the sculptures were gorgeous representations of the Mexican culture.

Open Pop Up Shops San Antonio4Right outside of the first OPEN shop were two food trucks – Mars and Vietnamese Cuisine. Food and shopping in St. Paul Square? We applaud you, San Antonio!

Next was the “Pet Store”, located at 1142 E. Commerce, with PAWsitively Sweet Bakery & Boutique, an all-natural and handcrafted pet products store. If you’re looking for a new pair of shoes, shirt or bow for your pup, this is the place to go! Jacqueline didn’t have her dog, Cooper, with her, so the free dog treats stayed in a bowl.

Downstairs was AME Collaborative, a space for local emerging artists, makers and craftspeople. If you visit the OPEN shops, we hope you’ll make the trip downstairs. There was no signage when we attended, but the art should not be skipped.

Open Pop Up Shops San Antonio6-Open Pop Up Shops San Antonio7Open Pop Up Shops San Antonio8-Personally, I was the most excited when I saw our next stop – “Her” – for obvious reasons. Located at 1160 E. Commerce, “Her” featured:

Kandi Factory – clothing for plus size women

Bonjour Biqui – local handmade fashion from designer Blanquita Sullivan

Adam’s Gift – organic exfoliating body scrubs and gift baskets

Gathers no Moss – plants in recycled, repurposed and restored containers

Open Pop Up Shops San Antonio10Open Pop Up Shops San Antonio9Immediately after walking inside this store made up of four amazing businesses, I knew I had to keep my head parallel with my finances because the fashion was unique and modern and I wanted to buy at least ten different dresses, 5 different miniature gardens and a couple of wonderful and delicious smelling body scrubs.

Jacqueline and I walked onto the back patio for some fresh air (and to Tweet, Insta and Snap) and discovered a garden area with foliage and stone tables. I could hardly believe this dream land existed behind one of the vacant stores on East Commerce.

Open Pop Up Shops San Antonio12Can you guess what store we visited next? “Him”. Located at 1170 E. Commerce, “Him” featured:

M Andrews Satorial Luxury Collection – custom Menswear and ready to wear including handmade Italian leather shoes, handmade silk ties, and cufflinks

Gonzalez Handmade – small handmade leather goods

Handmade silk ties and handmade leather notebooks and wooden combs, a combination you don’t usually find, but the meshed perfectly together. Whatever your style is, you can find something amazing at OPEN.

Open Pop Up Shops San Antonio11OPEN is an initiative to bring life to vacant properties in downtown San Antonio through temporary retail stores. The Center City Development and Operations Department (CCDO) partners with property owners and retailers to create a vibrant, urban space for locals to enjoy. We see OPEN as a window into what the future might hold for St. Paul Square and the East side as a whole. The OPEN shops will be open until May 28th. The hours are Monday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Today was the first time I walked the streets of East Commerce in the daylight (I frequent the location for the 13th Floor Haunted House) and the stores, the signs, the whole facade of St. Paul Square is inspiring and brings light to a part of downtown many people neglect to venture to, mainly because of the lack of attractions. Through OPEN, Jacqueline and I both hope and encourage people to come explore St. Paul Square and support local artists and businesses. This is our time to show the city we want new retail shops and more local businesses to succeed in the core of our city. It’s time to take the leap.

We want to know, how do you feel about the OPEN initiative? Leave your thoughts and comments below!