By Sal Pizarro
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) SJ Made, which supports local artisans through shows and pop-up boutiques, recruited the first four retailers — all run by women — which offer a variety of items including plants, apparel, artwork and next-gen women’s undergarments.
Last year, Angie Chua quit a decade-long career in digital advertising to pursue her dream of running her own business, Bobo Design Studio.
The South Bay native had been connecting with customers online, selling everything from pins to bags and shirts featuring her designs, but it was tough going.
“To gain any kind of market share online is getting more difficult. It’s such a crowded space,” she said. But now, Chua — along with three other female entrepreneurs — has a space of her own at MOMENT at San Pedro Square, the new pop-up retail incubator in downtown San Jose.
Chua said she was feeling grateful as customers browsed through her 400 square-foot space. “To be able to give back to my community and showcase my work — to have downtown San Jose want to support artists — it’s hard not to feel romantic about that,” she said. “It’s just a great community.”
And it’s a community that gave up a dozen parking spaces in the San Pedro/Market Garage to make MOMENT happen.
Three years ago, the Knight Foundation awarded a Cities Challenge grant to the San Jose Downtown Association’s concept of creating four mini storefronts on the garage’s ground floor. (The idea’s actually been floating around for at least two decades, according to San Jose Transportation Director Jim Ortbal).
With a wildly popular block of restaurants and bars on the other side of the street, and a farmers market every Friday until fall, this is probably the only stretch of sidewalk downtown with enough foot traffic to give the idea a chance of success. A late-stage addition of a parklet extends the sidewalk in front of the shops and provides welcome seating.