This week, we’re going to speak with Krystal Popov. She’s back with another venture. This one is the newest retail outlet in Downtown Tucson called Proper Shops. We’re going to find out more about this unique name, the creative concept for retailers, and what to expect if you visit her shops.
Today is November 20th, my name is Tom Heath and you’re listening to “Life Along the Streetcar”.
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This week, we’re going to speak with Krystal Popov. She’s back with another venture. This one is the newest retail outlet in downtown. It’s called Proper Shops. We’re going to find out more about this unique name, the creative concept for retailers, and what to expect if you visit her shops.
Today is November 20, 2022. My name is Tom Heath and you are listening to life along the streetcar. Each and every Sunday, our focuses on social, cultural and economic impacts in Tucson’s urban core. And we shed light on hidden gems from May Mountain to the University of Arizona. All stops in between. You get the inside track right here on 99 One FM streaming on downtownradio.org, also available on your iPhone or Android if you get our Downtown Radio Tucson app from Google Play or the
App Store. Of course, on our show we have a direct email. It’s [email protected]. Our social media handles on Facebook and Instagram are lifelong streetcar. Our podcast is out there. And of course, if you want to listen to old episodes and check out information on the show or the book, head over to Life Along the Streetcar.org. Must be the holiday season. Thanksgiving is coming up in a couple of days. All kinds of stuff happening to get us festive. Later today, the ice is opening over at the convention center. It’s right you can go ice skating in Tucson, Arizona between now and early January right there in front of the convention center, part of this annual event created by Rio Nuevo. Also on Tuesday, I believe, the 22nd, we’re getting a very large, larger than normal Christmas tree at Hakami Plaza. The Downtown Tucson partnership with the city and the county and again, rie inuevo making it a festive experience in the downtown area. So check out our Facebook page if you want
more info on any of that upcoming stuff. And while you’re downtown, you might want to do a little shopping because retail is making a comeback. And we have a repeat guest. Her name is Crystal pop off. She was on last year talking about coworking and she’s created kind of a retail coworking space across from Hotel Congress. So we sat down with her to get some of the details. So we’re here again with Crystal pop off. It’s been about a year since we talked, which means there’s got to be at least one or two new businesses in your life because that seems to be your trend. But welcome back to life along the streetcar.
Thank you. I’m really excited to be here with you today.
We’re going to have so much enthusiasm. It’s going to be a great interview already. So just to catch everyone up, you and I spoke. I looked it up. It was in December of 2021, so almost a year ago. And we had talked about this crazy concept where you’d open a coworking space in the middle of COVID called the L offices. So briefly, let’s do a quick recap about what the L offices is and who you are.
Yeah, wonderful. Well, I’m a native Tucson. We’ll start there. I love Tucson. I left for a little bit, as most people do. Graduated from the College of Engineering at University of Arizona, went and got a job in Phoenix, worked there for about seven years, got some good corporate experience, went off on my own in a marketing company and was there. I learned entrepreneurship, I learned that I wanted to work for myself. And then when I got married and started a family, I now have three kids. I knew that I wanted to work for myself. However, being an entrepreneur is not always the easiest track, although very rewarding. We have ups and downs like I’ve never seen, and I know everyone does, but as an entrepreneur, it feels like there’s a lot more weight on the shoulders. Like, I remember leaving my corporate job on Friday afternoon and leaving it at the job. Right. And I didn’t check email much over the weekend. I didn’t care as much. Right. But once you work for yourself, it’s your bank account,
your life, so it’s tough. And when I was living in Chicago, I was part of a coworking space that just gave me community and support and optimism because they’re surrounded by all these other people who are doing amazing things. And when I came back to Tucson, we had Connect Coworking, which was above the Rialto there, and I became part of it. But they shut down in July of 2019 and I knew we still needed it. We needed it for the community, we needed it downtown. And so we opened up the L offices in downtown Tucson. In the middle of endemic. Yes, but it’s an amazing place. We have amazing members there and that was such a success. But now we have moved on. So this year in 2022, we opened our second coworking space up at river and Campbell. The L office is north and we are almost full there. We’ve got room from some entrepreneurs that want to be kind of on the north side of town. It is a beautiful, amazing facility. If you haven’t checked it out, you definitely need to. And then we open that
in March of 2022. And like you said, Tom, I just love creating opportunity for people. And I saw a need for flex retail space as well. So that’s the project we’re working on.
Now, before we get into that, just really quickly, this is a throwback to the L train from your Chicago days, correct?
Yes. So we moved in. Our first location in downtown is in this old Chicago music store and we’re on the second floor and I got the idea when I was in a coworking in Chicago that all just kind of came together synergistically. And so I’m calling it the L, which is the elevated train in Chicago. And we’ve kind of kept that Chicago theme throughout both locations.
Yeah, you got the elevated theme because you’re on the second floor and the Chicago store. And I understand, if I remember correctly, this was not a conscious decision to go into the Chicago music store to sort of worked out for you.
No, it wasn’t a conscious decision. It just happened. Yeah. And so when I went into the place, you know, when you get that feeling when you’re like, okay, I’m on the right track, as soon as I pulled in and walked in, I’m like, oh, my gosh, because I had already thought about it being a Chicago themed office space. And then there my agent was touring the Chicago music store. It kind of just came together. And when that happens, you just go.
Well, I guess this seems to be the theme for you. When something happens, you just go. So now, all of a sudden, we’ve got another series of events that have led you to this next project, which I’m kind of excited to share with the world. And for full disclosure, I have a place in your new retail shops. And we’ll talk about that later, but I’m not coming in here as a disinterested third party. I’m very excited about what you’re doing in there. But tell us, first of all, the concept and location. Let’s kind of get into the basics of it. Then I want to talk about your philosophy.
Okay, yeah. Well, the concept is that retailers, a lot of retailers during COVID went online. It was the thing it was the only thing to do. Right. So if you have a product, how do we bring it to the masses when everyone’s at home? And that is a big online presence. So during that time, everyone dove into Facebook ads, instagram ads. How do I create Facebook groups and invite people to the group? And it kind of got flooded so much that if you’re starting a retail business today to get it in front of people, to get it really visible across social media, it is tens of thousands of dollars of ads, and most people don’t have the resources to do that upfront. So we needed a place where retailers who had these online brands could also be in a kind of brick and mortar, feel the merchandise, see the merchandise, try on the merchandise setting. And people were craving that, I think, coming out of the pandemic, and retailers and shoppers. And so I know there was a need. People kept coming into the
L offices saying, you know, I have a Tshirt shop. I have a jewelry shop. We had a little boutique in there at one point, the elbow Botique, run by Annette, but we’re on the second floor of the Chicago Music Store so that traffic wasn’t getting upstairs. So I knew there was a need. And I believe we found the perfect building for this. We’re right across from Hotel Congress adjacent to the playground in the old proper restaurant. So we’re calling at the proper shops. We have about 20 slots within this building, different sizes, different pricing for retailers to really go in and build out their own little boutique where we can activate and drive people to shop at these local retailers.
As I understand, this came out somewhat organically. As the owners of the building, they think it’s going to be a restaurant again in the future, but we’re not going to activate it for a while. Is that kind of a fair statement?
Yeah, I mean, Scott Steitler, Rudy Dubdub and like the other Love block partnership, they are working on other projects. They reopened the playground, they’ve got the old Corbett building that’s getting opened into a pill ball court, which is a really cool project if you have a chance to interview someone from that crew. But they’ve got a lot going on and so, yes, his idea is we have a restaurant concept that we think would do well here, but we’re probably about five or seven years out and the listing agent, Buzz Isaacson, reached out and said, crystal, connect with Scott. Crystal has ideas, Scott has a space. Let’s see how we can make this work. And so I brought him a wellness concept and a retail concept. And I was leaning towards retail and he said, I like it. And so that’s where we are at.
I’ve met some of the people that are coming in. Many of them, like you said, were online with no physical presence, but a handful of them have a physical presence in a different part of town. But they’re trying to get into the downtown market.
There’s a lot of great boutiques in Tucson, really great boutiques. St Els Plaza on the east side on St Averte. And to get into downtown at a retail location in downtown can be very expensive. So downtown, the prices for downtown is some of the highest for commercial in all of Tucson. So retailer to go and sign a large commercial lease in downtown Tucson is a very risky move if you don’t know if the clientele downtown is even going to like your project. So this fills that gap that allows retailers to actually test drive downtown as a possible future boutique location. So they get a spot within proper shops, launch a boutique, see how their merchandise does downtown, and then it gives them the idea of how to expand or if to expand into the downtown area.
The concept then if you’re going to be, I don’t say transient, but you have people that may be in your shop for a period of time and then expand, which would be kind of an ideal scenario for everyone, but that means you’re without a tenant. So how do your leases work?
Yeah, our leases are very low risk. So similar to our Flex office space, we do everything month to month. So we just require a one month security deposit up front and a 30 day notice if they’re going to move out of the shop. So this is truly very, very low risk to the retailers that are moving into the proper shops. And the nice thing also is we were supported by Rio Nuevo or these boutique owners are being supported by Rio Nuevo. Ryanuevo is actually given funds to the initial retailers that are going into the shop for their build out. So here you have someone that either has a curtain shop like Desert Mariposa on the east side or the Bras Spa on the east side. Both of them are coming downtown, so they want to expand to a new location. They come into the proper shops, they pick out their designated shop area, and now Rio Nuevo is funding 80% of the build out of their new shop. So you have these types of shops that are opening, and then you have a lot of new shops that are opening. So kind
of like the Tucson Gallery, which we’ll get into but reap. And so close down their Wellness line in Orange County in California and close it down during COVID They move to Tucson and they get to relaunch their boutique. Inside of proper shops, we have flirti Beauty, which is clean vegan lipstick with a great kind of a cool concept that the lipstick color matches the woman’s nipple color. Thomas, you’ve talked about this, but this concept, when you hear and see how she believes your natural skin tone should be what you should be wearing on your lips with all vegan lipstick and lip gloss, it’s a really cool concept. So flirti Beauty is one of the shops going in. Willow’s Bizarre Boutique is one of the ones that is a big online brand. And they wanted to open a boutique, but really, again, wanted to do it with no risk. So these month to month leases make it super easy for retailers to kind of test drive this concept.
So we’ll be right back with this interview with Crystal Pop off in just a moment. I want to remind you that you’re listening to Life Along the Streetcar on Downtown Radio 99.1 FM and available for streaming on downtownradio.org.
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Welcome back. We’re going to jump right back into the interview with the Crystal Popoff and learn a little bit more about proper shops and what makes it unique. Not just the shopping, but what other things shoppers will experience.
It’s not just a place to go shop. It’s an experience for a consumer to go and really enjoy community.
This here, if I was a retailer, this is why I would hands down be opening in proper shops is marketing is a niche that sometimes when you’re opening a business I’ve learned this when I opened the L. It’s tough to figure out if you’ve never done it. And here we are opening a space that we’re going to be driving consumers to the retailers. And you have synergy between these retailers. So we have artists in there, we have jewelry, we have clothing, we have a mix of retailers that are in the space that all are marketing for proper shops. We also have a wine bar in there where we’re going to bring in vineyards to do wine tasting and have some local breweries on tap. We have a huge patio that we’re going to activate with live music. So you’re exactly right. Consumers are going there for the experience. They get to shop around all these different retail shops. They get to do some wine tasting, grab a drink. They can go out on the patio, listen to live music, grab a bite to eat from Little Love
Burger, who we share a patio with. So it is an experience. This is a place, this is a destination shopping place that we have not seen yet in downtown Tucson. And I think we are going to crush it.
And I really enjoy this concept of bringing people out to our local vendors because we spend so much time and I know with COVID even more time in isolation, clicking links on national websites to have things shipped to our home. And that kind of changed how marketing and advertising were done and how items were purchased. And you’re sort of reverting that. You’re like, you know what? I’m standing up for a local and we’re bringing people back. You know that Tucson has this really rich history of having the grocery stores and the markets with inside of our neighborhoods and they were community gathering places. We have that with a few of those that are out there, but not on a retail level. I’m excited by this philosophical shift of let’s stop clicking in the dark and isolation and getting stuff shipped to our house. Let’s get out and be a part of our community and share in the growth of these businesses as well as the products that they offer. So philosophically, I think you really hit onto
And Tucson especially, I mean, the Tucson people support local business in the masses. You see it all over. And I think downtown especially, we want to we create relationships that we want to support them again, other than clicking on a big box store. And we get that we get that right inside proper shops.
And we’ve teased it a little bit, but I am going in with some partners and we’re opening something called the Tucson Gallery inside of the proper shops, just very briefly, because I don’t want to take too much time away from your project just because we brought it up. Our focus is to really help some of our local artists get a place to show their work. An opportunity to kind of interact with their patrons and really kind of build their own artistic business with the idea that if they can spend less time trying to figure out how to run a business or make money and more time on their art, it’s going to make Tucson a better place. So we’ve got six artists going in on the outset. There are more permanent collection, so to speak, and then we’ll have artists coming in from all kinds of different genres and with our goal, really, is to kind of export them to the world versus bringing in the world’s art to Tucson. We want to take Tucson’s artists and bring them out. We’re very fortunate to have
some of the most prolific muralists. Nasio Garcia, Joe Padrick, and Jessica Gonzalez, they’re kind of part of those six that are anchoring that spot. And we’ve got people doing texture art photography. Sean Parker is a phenomenal photographer in Tucson. He’s agreed to be a part of this initial gallery, all of them with this intent of let’s get more art into the hands of Tucson’s and tourists, as well as providing a space for that up and coming artists. That’s kind of the concept behind the Tucson Gallery. I’m going to stop talking because it’s more than I normally talk in any interview and want to get back to the proper shop. So tell us the details. Like, how do we find out more? When are you opening? What’s the skinny and all that stuff.
Yeah, and I’ll tell you that in a second, but I know you just threw out the names, but let’s just realize what you and your partners have done with this Tucson Gallery is pull together not only the famous muralists that you see all over downtown Tucson and the surrounding areas, but these are awardwinning muralists. They’ve been featured in Sports Illustrated. They’ve gotten awards all over the world. And so we get to go in, we get to meet with them. You’re pulling them in. We get to ask the artist, you know, Ignacio, maybe have wine with Ignacio. And we get to see them paint live. We get to see them filming podcasts. So there’s so much that people are not going to they’re not going to realize how incredible it is to step inside proper shops and really create a connection with these people until we open. But it’s just amazing what you’ve done tom and we’re so excited to have you within the proper shops. But we are opening, we’re launching, we will have our soft openings on December 1 and
second and then open to the public on December 3. Perfect time for shopping for Christmas and to really come out and support these local artists where we’ll have some bands that let me touch of Gray, Little House of Funk we’ll be playing that weekend. So on our patio we’ll have live music, we’ll have food in the area and come down, support these local artists, support these local merchants and really support Downtown Tucson.
And then on an ongoing basis, I know there’s some limited hours, so can you kind of talk about the thought behind that?
Yeah, we are only initially going to be open Thursday evening, Friday evening, Saturday most of the day and then Sunday. So Thursday and Friday 04:00 p.m. Till 08:00 p.m., and then Saturday will open eleven to 08:00 p.m. And Sunday will be twelve to five. Now, the reason for these shorter hours is a boutique owner also has a lot of expenses in staffing and we just know the nature of Downtown Tucson. Right now. It is hustling. It’s vibing mostly in the evenings and on the weekends. So right now we don’t want retailers to have these extra expenses of staffing. It through the day when we don’t have shoppers coming in. So it’s really going to be geared to that night time traffic that’s coming in and the weekend traffic coming into Downtown Tucson.
How do we find out more? As our website. I’m sure you’re on social media. What’s the avenue to get the details?
Yeah, first thing you want to do is go to Instagram at Proper shops and it’s actually at Proper Shops Tucson and connect with us on Instagram. Our website is propershopstucan.com and our Facebook is propershops. So find us on social, go to the website, sign up for the newsletter so you can get all of the information. We will even be launching something on our social in the next couple of days that you could be invited to our VIP event gala. It’s going to be a lot of fun with a lot of influencers in Downtown Tucson. So we’re launching a contest there. So jump on.
Well, Crystal, your excitement is contagious. I’m excited by extension and also I’m already thinking about next year when I interview you, what the next project is that you’re going to be working on.
We’re excited. We’ll get one project at a time, one project, but this one’s a really exciting one.
Looking forward to it. Not just because I have a place in there, but I think this shop has a place in downtown. It’s going to start bringing that retail fill back to downtown, something we’ve been missing for years. My name is Tom Heath and you’re listening to Life along the streetcar downtown Radio 99.1 FM and available for [email protected].
You’re listening to Ktdt, Tucson, Arizona 99, one FM downtown radio. I’m Brother Mark, host of a show called Radio Club Crawl that airs every Tuesday at 03:00 P.m.. We try to focus on most of the bands that are coming through Tucson, and we give you a tasty taste of their music. If you want to check out what’s happening around Tucson, check out Radio Club Crawl Tuesdays, 03:00 P.m., right here on Ktdt, Tucson, Arizona, 99, One FM, downtown radio.
Thank you very much. Enjoy your evening.
Bye bye. Thank you again. Crystal pop off one year later, open up another venture. We’ll talk to her in 2023 and see what’s going on next week. We’ve got a cool show. We’ve got the founder of El Grupo and the founder of Meet Me at Maynards on the show talking about their project called Beyond Tucson. It is a remarkable story, again, coming from tragedy into something very wonderful for our community. We’ll get all those details next Sunday after Thanksgiving. We’ve also got some cool shows coming up here in December, so stay tuned. If there’s ever any topics you want us to share, hit us up on Instagram or Facebook. Lifelong streetcar our email address. [email protected] if you’re still using email, which seems to be fewer and fewer of us. And as always, if you want information on past episodes, a little bit about our show, and information on our book, don’t forget we wrote that book this year called My Life Along the Streetcar collection of interviews that focuses on the very
first year. We launched some key interviews that were important to the show as well as important to our community. So if you’re looking for a gift, maybe for holidays coming up I didn’t say that right. It’s not even Thanksgiving. I’m talking about gifts. Anyway, head over to Alexandustreecar.org for all that info, man. Lots of stuff coming up. Ice skating later today. The tree will be lit in hockey Me Plaza later this week. Then we’ve got the holidays. And then we’ll get right into the Thanksgiving holiday and we’ll get right into shopping and maybe head over and check out Crystal’s Place or the Tucson Gallery inside of that. And then we haven’t even talked about parado lights that’s coming back after two years. So that’ll be in December as well. So we’ll maybe talk a little bit more about that next Sunday. I’m talking about gifts, and it’s November, and I’m kind of jumping the gun here, right? Christmas trees and holiday lights. We don’t forget about a good old Thanksgiving day of reflection
this Thursday. So we’re going to leave you a little music today by Matthew West. It’s a single hour from 2020. It’s called gobble. Gobble. It is the Thanksgiving song because there’s a lot about Christmas, but not too much about Thanksgiving. Well, I’m thankful for you and I appreciate you listening. My name is Tom Heath. This is life along the streetcar. Hope you have a great week and a great, great and reflective Thanksgiving.