Local attorney tries fashion design at 60

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 174 views 

BENTONVILLE — Fashion is taking on a new face in Bentonville – that of the pop-up store.

With it, Nancy Martin is fulfilling a life-long dream. Martin is all smiles as she floats about the store, her brainchild and the product of months of work that began when she turned 60.

"Turning 60, I decided I was going to manufacture what I like," Martin said.

What she likes is simple, timeless design that flatters any figure. Cuts that accentuate the silhouette and clothes that are as beautiful as they are functional.

For those reasons, Martin designed a pencil skirt, complete with pockets, for her first pop-up shop. The skirts are made in New York's garment district out of materials selected by Martin and her friend Mary Mumma.

The two of them spent several days in New York deciding on fabrics, cuts and manufacturers before returning to Bentonville to find the perfect location to start a new venture.

The location, as is turns out, is Studio 124, an art gallery just off the Bentonville square. It's the perfect spot to display what gallery owner Thomas Merritt calls wearable art.

Pencil skirts, chunky jewelry, simple tops and scarves replaced paintings in the gallery. Jazz pumps through speakers and a make-shift dressing room has been placed in the back amidst paint brushes and tools.

With a little imagination and a great deal of work, Martin and Mumma transformed the space into a store that rivals many small boutiques.

While Martin's store is easily one of the hippest, the pop-up shop certainly isn't a new concept for Northwest Arkansas. We see them come and go each Halloween with stores like Spirit in Fayetteville and each Christmas when calendar stores literally pop-up inside empty mall store fronts.

Pop-up shops by definition are temporary retail spaces that often spring up in empty store-fronts, rental spaces, and just about anywhere else there is good space and foot traffic, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Multiple messages left at the Center for Retailing Excellence at the University of Arkansas during the past four business days were not returned.
But research indicates pop-up stores are growing in popularity among small retailers in large and small cities alike.

The cost-efficient small stores are now beginning to be noticed by much larger corporations too. Starbucks opened its first pop-up store in Tokyo during September. McDonald's built an operation that lasted 6 weeks for the Olympians in London and Microsoft recently announced its plans to open pop-up stores in 27 states and 3 Canadian provinces before the month's end. Toys R Us said it will add several pop-up stores ahead of the holiday shopping season.

For Martin, the pop-up store provided her with a way to fulfill a life-long dream, that of designing fashion for people to enjoy.

"The pop-up store is a good way to get some buzz and to get going," Martin said, beaming from ear to ear at the possibilities now surrounding her.

"It's like being excited for Christmas every day," Mumma said.

Martin's pop-up shop is open until Nov. 3. during the evening hours as she practices law full-time during the day.