Just under the Texas Street Bridge, Bossier businesses are “Popping UP” in Shreveport.
Downtown Development Authority’s unique Pop UP Project is offering select entrepreneurs the chance to locate in a storefront in the Red River District free of rent for two weeks, May 12-23. The dozen businesses will receive free regional marketing, business banking advice from Citizens National Bank, professional photographic services, and a soft opening event. In addition, the Committee of One Hundred, a private organization made up of the highest-ranking local executives of businesses and professional enterprises in northwest Louisiana, will offer one free year of rent to a chosen Pop UP business.
“We’re helping the business get their feet wet with two weeks rent-free. The Committee of One Hundred is offering an incentive that could be life-changing to a small business person,” said Liz Swaine, executive director of DDA.
One of the Bossier-based businesses taking part in this opportunity is Lora Silva, owner and cake designer of My Pastry Chef Bakery. In her 19th year of business, the bakery is located on Hamilton Road in Bossier City, but the opportunity to showcase some of her specialties was too good for Silva to pass up.
She took advantage of the Pop UP Project to showcase special event cakes and sell thumbprints — shortbread cookies with a buttercream or fudge topping.
“I thought this would be a good opportunity to see how my type of business would do in the downtown scene,” said Silva.
She encourages curious residents to check out and see the business potential of downtown Shreveport.
“I think this is such a cool thing. The more people support these businesses, the closer we are to restoring downtown’s historic charm. There’s a lot of history in these buildings and it would be great to give them life again,” Silva said.
To see examples and find out more information, visit My Pastry Chef’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/pages/My-Pastry-Chef-Wedding-Cake-Factory/115737468447004.
The type of businesses under the bridge range from pastries to printing, with Arklatex 3D Printing.
Bossier resident Mark Holstrum, co-owner and project leader of Arklatex 3D Printing, is offering customers the chance to build whatever they can dream up.
“We can work with customers to make a product. We even have full body scanners that can scan people and make a scalable model of them,” said Holstrom.
The business took root after Holstrum learned 3D printing on his own initiative while at Bossier Parish Community College.
“I was a truck driver and after I went to BPCC, I found out they had a 3D printer that no one could use, so I took it upon myself to (learn to use it),” he said.
After learning computer-aided design (CAD) at BPCC, he struck out with his partner Matt Hopper to establish a 3D technology company with a consumer twist.
“We wanted a store that would include a maker’s space to allow customers to make their own designs,” said Holstrom.
When the Pop UP Project was announced, he knew it would legitimize his business while adding visibility.
“We needed to have a location, we needed that step up from a garage,” Holstrom said. “It gives us the opportunity to try the retail store model instead of renting office space and signing a substantial lease.”
With applications in architecture, construction, industrial design, automotive, aerospace, military, engineering, dental and medical industries, fashion and more, 3D technology offers customization as well as pre-made products for sale.
“What’s really neat is it can be applied to just about any type of industry,” said Holstrom.
He notes that customers will have a 30-minute consultation, followed by Arklatex 3D printing performing the CAD work and then the actual printing.
“Depending on the complexity, the CAD work could be a day or two. Printing ranges from eight hours to 32 hours,” said Holstrom.
“We just tell people come down and check it out. You’ve got to come down here and once you see it, that’s when they get excited.”
Stores are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Another Pop UP will follow in the fall in the Central Business District, and a third will be held in November in Shreveport Common, the new nine-block art and culture district downtown.
Information about the current Pop UP project in the Red River District, hours of operation, special events and more about the businesses chosen can be found at www.downtownshreveport.com.