By Paul Koenig
Gardiner Main Street managed to fill three of the six spaces available for its pop-up project, which offered free rent for new stores in November and December.
One pop-up store, Pooch’s 2nd Hand Shop, decided to stay in the location after the free-rent offer ended. The store sells donated and consigned home goods with all proceeds going to animal rescue agencies and shelters. Executive Director of Gardiner Main Street Patrick Wright and Nate Rudy, director of economic and community development for the city, both called the project a success because they said it filled some empty storefronts and created buzz for Gardiner. Rudy said they weren’t expecting the stores to stay after the two months, but the number of calls from businesses looking to open in Gardiner in the future indicates that the project accomplished what the city wanted. Jennifer Bergeron, owner of earth bound, one of the pop-up stores with permanent locations in Hallowell and Waterville, said she had hoped her store would have been more successful. The owner of the women’s clothing boutique said some sales in Gardiner may have gone to her other locations regardless since many big purchases came from existing customers. Although she won’t be opening a permanent Gardiner store in the near future, Bergeron said the location is still a possibility down the road. “I think that Gardiner’s got a little bit of work to do before I’d be ready,” she said. “I think the potential is there for that to be a great downtown.”