SOUTH BEND -

With the holiday shopping season just past us, it's time for downtown South Bend's pop-up shops to start winding down.

Saturday, Dec. 28 is the last day for seven temporary stores participating in DTSB's holiday pop-up program. For the past two months, the store owners have had rent and utilities paid for by the city and the building owners.

The goal is to fill empty storefronts downtown, at least temporarily, if not for the long run.
Nearly all of the pop-ups' owners expressed an interest in opening permanent stores in downtown South Bend. They said business is too good to leave.

Megan Chlebek already has regulars coming into her home boutique store, Upstyle.

"We have about five or six customers that have been in several times, that I know by name, and have said, 'We want to be regulars. We want you to stay,'" Chlebek said.

So stay she will -- at least, that's what Chlebek and her husband are hoping for.

"We're wanting to stay in this location, but we will see what happens," she said.

And they're not the only ones making appointments with landlords this week. Owners of the popular Pigeon and the Hen Pottery store aren't planning on going anywhere, either.
Business has been booming.

"We're making enough money to sustain ourselves without DTSB's help, which is really nice," said Diana Palomo, co-owner of the paint-your-own-pottery shop. "Two weeks before Christmas, things really started flying off the shelves. Even a week before Christmas."

That's exactly what Pam Richardes, owner of Indiana Rug Co., wants to hear.

"Their pottery's exquisite, I hope they stay. Fingers crossed," Richardes said.

Indiana Rug Co. started as a pop-up shop, and opened its doors as a permanent store three months ago. That's why Richardes is a big supporter of pop-ups like Pigeon and the Hen.

As for her own business, it's picked up faster than she thought it would, Richardes said.

"A whirlwind, that's the best way I can think to describe it," she said.

And this year's pop-up owners are hoping it stays that way, long after the holiday shopping season.

"I think we're going to be awesome at this," Palomo said.

This is the pop-up program's third year. Since then, five pop-ups have become permanent stores downtown: Imagine That! Toy Store, Made in Michiana, Bicycle Gallery and Body Art, South Bend Brew Werks and Indiana Rug Co.