PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- When she leased a building to start her latest venture in March 2020, Melissa Michalczyk never expected a battle to keep her business alive.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the entrepreneur to rethink her event-planning services. Her business, located at 3010 Richmond Street, is now a pop-up shop for vendors displaced by canceled events.
She didn't expect the history she was stepping into, either. Michalczyk grew up in the Port Richmond area and would come to own the very storefront where her mother worked in the 1950s.
The small hole-in-the-wall used to be a convenience store. Today, it's an multi-purpose open space she designed to bring the community together.
"I'm trying to give back to a lot of the vendors that lost a lot of revenue because of the coronavirus," she said.
The founder of State Street Events, Michalczyk works with roughly 1,000 local vendors in planning street festivals, weddings, corporate affairs and other community events. Naturally, it's been a quiet summer for her in the wake of a global pandemic.
In order to keep a slice of the industry alive, she is using her property as a means to connect vendors with community customers. Every Sunday in August from 8am to 12pm, she will feature vintage thrift items from local collectors.
"I realized just how much I missed just talking to strangers and getting to know people," said Julie Kropp, who was invited to sell her wares this morning.
While simulating the colorful sights and smells of a true street fair, the pop-up shop employs safety measures such as mandatory masks, social distancing, and limited capacity. The storefront is also conducive to the fresh flow of outdoor air thanks to a retractable garage door.
Eager guests walked away with a Mike Schmidt Phillies Jersey, vintage jacket, $10 t-shirts, and in-tact outfits from the 1980s and 1990s. Other trinkets such as cassette tapes and handmade candles were also ripe for the thrifting.
"This is my community. It's really nice to see it turning around," Michalczyk said. "There was a good halt there where things were looking a little scary but the neighborhood's really stuck together."
Nearby residents hope the pop-up opportunities will continue to provide a safe way of recreating and supporting local business.
Michalczyk also opens her space to yoga and dance classes in addition to pop-up shops.
To learn more, visit their Facebook page.