A group of entrepreneurs have transformed a derelict building on Bayswater’s main coffee strip into a community hub via a collective pop-up offering locals coffee, yoga and retail wares.
The building on King William Street has been donated by Yolk Property Group to enterprising individuals as a place to trial business ideas and test the market rent-free, for the period between acquisition construction.
Brothers and business partners Matthew and Charles Stewart moved into the space last year and have built a loyal customer base at their café Howdy, serving artisan coffee seven days a week. Charles said the opportunity to establish a café at the pop-up came at the perfect time.
“We were in the final stages of opening a café with business partners in Fremantle and at the last minute it fell through, leaving us with everything we needed for a coffee shop except the shop itself,” Mr Stewart said.
“A mate told us about the pop-up opportunity and within three weeks Howdy was open for business – it worked out perfectly in terms of timing,” he said.
Mr Stewart said the pop-up has allowed them to test different ideas and explore opportunities with very little risk and with maximum support from the community. In December they trailed Howdy Sailor, a pop-up event in the building’s rear car park, with a bar, gourmet burger van, DJs and activities.
“Through our cafe pop-up we’ve gotten to know people in the area – there are a huge number of young families and couples all calling out for fun and new things to do locally. We talked about the idea with some of our customers and they loved it so we went ahead with it. It’s been so popular we’ve run it multiple times,” he said.
Mr Stewart said they were in the process of opening a permanent café in Claremont with the knowledge and experience garnered from the pop-up behind them.
“Our Howdy pop-up has allowed us to develop a strong brand, attract great staff and figure out how we want to run our new café. It’s also let us take time in scouting the ideal location for the new café because we didn’t have to rush into a lease due to the income from Howdy.”
“The opportunity has been really valuable. Anyone looking to start a hospitality venture should definitely try their hand at a pop-up before taking on a lease,” Mr Stewart said.
Sharing the space with Howdy is Pedalare, a business offering customized cycling clothing, run by Cameron Jose. A Research Scientist working full-time at a vet school, Dr Jose spends his weekends at the Bayswater pop-up sewing cycling caps and designing Lycra kits in his corner of the building, which he’s transformed into a workshop, store and office.
“Over summer while I wasn’t working I set-up in the space, mainly sewing cycling caps on the machine. People that came in for a coffee would come and chat and they were sort of blown away by what I was doing. A lot of the time I’d sew a custom cap for someone while they waited for their coffee,” Dr Jose said.
Dr Jose said the pop-up opportunity has been a valuable one and exceeded his expectations.
“I’ve been able to get my brand out there in a personal way. I can share the story of Pedalare to people and they can see how I work with their own eyes. That interaction is fantastic and having an audience while I’m working is great motivation.”
“When I first set up I didn’t think I’d sell a thing but I ended up selling a kit a day – they were flying out the door. It’s made me want to open a permanent retail store,” Dr Jose said.
Co-Director of Yolk Property Group Pete Adams said it made sense for property developers to offer vacant buildings to the community to use.
“After acquiring a site it can take up to 18 months before construction begins and all the building will do is sit there idle. It’s a waste when entrepreneurs, artists and creatives could be using it as a test tube space,” Mr Adams said.
Mr Adams said the Bayswater site was a trial to see whether the idea had merit and after positive feedback from the operators and support from the community, the company would be offering pop-up opportunities at other sites and encouraged other developers to do the same.
“Perth has such an abundance of creative, talented dreamers – we should be fostering this entrepreneurial spirit and giving them every chance to succeed. Supplying them with a space to work from, rent-free, costs very little to us, but could make a huge difference to them,” he said.
The next pop-up is set to take place in Fremantle sometime in April.
The pop-up is located at 11 King William Street, Bayswater and is expected to run for another six months. Howdy operates 7 days a week from 7AM to 2PM; Pedalare operates on weekends from 10AM to 2PM. In addition to Howdy and Pedalare, Bourne to Strutt runs yoga classes at the premises.