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Broadway Carts Coming For Holiday Shopping

City prepares six Retail Merchandising Units are being prepared for Liberty Bell Plaza.

Something is about to pop up in the heart of downtown. Actually, it's six somethings.

Coming in time for the holiday shopping season is a "retail pop-up village" with six carts — Retail Merchandising Units (RMU). These are venues for small specialty retailing as the city promotes pedestrian shopping at Liberty Bell Plaza, where the Broadway sidewalk bulges wide in front of Il Fornaio and a fountain.

"We want to be flexible," said Ron Gerber, Walnut Creek's economic development manager. "We're looking at a variety of things. Maybe some could be trendy and chic. There's a whole array of children's toys — green toys or puppets, for example, that may not have their own stores — that would be great to have out there as one of the venues or vendors."

The city is partnering with Main Street Property Services of Lafayette, a real estate firm  that has handled leasing programs and remerchandising for Salvio Pacheco Square in Concord and Park Plaza in Lafayette.

Retail incubators?

The RMUs could be incubators as well. The idea is a growth area for local retailers who might not be ready to sign up for rents at places like Broadway Plaza or Broadway Plaza, Gerber said, but would have the opportunity to take the next step "to see if they're ready to go big time." It's a small place where a growing business could see how the public responds to retail concepts.

There would be more than retail carts. "It's an opportunity for the city to make that a gathering place," said Gerber. "It has not been activated to its potential." Gerber said perhaps "strolling minstrels" could provide entertainment there. Il Fornaio has outdoor tables for diners and latte quaffers.

 Liberty Bell Plaza is a stone's throw from Nordstrom, Apple, Neiman Marcus, and the newest retail engine, Anthropologie.

The carts can be locked up overnight. When the gates are closed, the idea is to have historical scenes of Walnut Creek showing.

In August purchased six retail merchandising units from Creations Global, Inc. for $156,588.

The RMUs would be leased for three months, six months or one year, according to the agenda report on the initiative prepared for an Aug. 7 City Council meeting.

The agenda report states:

  • The units would be rented for an average of $1,500 per RMU per month.
  • The 10-year projection is that the city would generate $966,000 from the RMUs, the agenda report states.
Triple Canopy October 10, 2012 at 01:33 AM
Those pop-up carts are unfair to the brick and mortar businesses, especially small businesses, who made a commitment to being in Walnut Creek.
Bob Brittain October 10, 2012 at 03:12 AM
Hi TC, You could be right, of course, but I would hope that enlivening the downtown with more opportunity would draw more people and help the other small businesses. Based upon what I read in the article, the pop-up carts are trial runs that may lead to the stronger commitment you speak about for those who are successful.
Julie Jepsen-Grant October 10, 2012 at 03:27 AM
Didn't Broadway Plaza have these carts last year?
The Merry One October 10, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Let's hope that the people working at these pop-up carts don't harrass passerbys the way the ones at Sunnyvalley Mall do. My daughter and I were literally accosted by a young man who wanted to sell us hand cream and wouldn't take no for an answer. I finally told him that I was going to scream for security if he didn't leave us alone. IMHO, they don't fit in with the vibe of Broadway Plaza. Definitely a step backwards.
One more time with feeling October 12, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Government funded food http://walnutcreek.patch.com/articles/unveiling-the-new-vendor-to-operate-the-librarys-coffee-bar http://walnutcreek.patch.com/articles/cafe-opens-at-downtown-library and now Government funded retail space. wow. The RoI is questionable - but I guess if one's job is to provide job-security, then one pulls revenue from the sky that can justify the expense regardless of the reality of the revenue. Remember, that's how another large retailer was relatively recently rationalized to the community. I don't remember the Apple Store, Tiffany's, Target, Macy's Starbuck's, Safeway, Camera West, Daskalos or any other downtown retailers being so "propped up" by City Hall. Interesting how these *things* started as "kiosks" and are now "carts". According to dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cart?s=t yet I see no wheels on these and have no reason to believe there is any portability. They will be a nuisance to visitors/shoppers looking for a pleasant rest stop. The summer heat and winter rain will be especially exciting for the employees. "The Merry One": Just a clarification: Liberty Bell Plaza is not part of Broadway Plaza. That block is part of a different development known as "Broadway Pointe" and is not related to Macerich (Broadway Plaza owners). "Julie Jepsen-Grant": Broadway Plaza had them a few years ago. Rumor is they did not make money which is why they are gone.

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