Flex retail space Proper Shops opening Downtown

click to enlarge Flex retail space Proper Shops opening Downtown
(SWOON Media/Submitted)
Proper Shops founders Krystal Popov and Tracy Nicasio at 300 E. Congress Street, ahead of grand opening weekend.

Downtown Tucson will see a new flex retail space at Congress Street and Fifth Avenue on Saturday, Dec. 3.

Proper Shops has room for over 20 small businesses and boutiques, offering a community-minded and supportive workspace for emerging and established local retailers, vendors and artists. Local food, beverages and live music will be provided for the grand opening weekend at 300 E. Congress Street.

From 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4, the public is invited to celebrate and support local business. They can shop from the 13 boutiques and purchase artwork, prints, crystals, cosmetics and woodworking.

Food and drinks will be available on the outdoor patio with live music scheduled for Saturday: Touch of Grey from 2 to 5 p.m. and Little House of Funk from 7 to 9 p.m.

The location, which seeks to lower the barrier-to-entry into the Downtown market, allows retailers flexibility with their lease agreements so they can focus on their respective brands, concepts and entrepreneurship. Of the 20 spaces, 13 will be occupied for the grand opening.

Friends, former co-workers at a network marketing company and now co-owners of Proper Shop, Krystal Popov and Tracy Nicasio, recognized the need for a Downtown flex workspace.

“Opening an office or a boutique is really tough for new business owners or people that are trying to get a physical space,” Popov said.

In May, the two became aware of the available space and pitched the concept to Rio Nuevo a couple of months later. The tax increment finance district (TIF) offered 80% of funding to the boutique owners to help “build out” their individual spaces, Popov said.

“We want it to be a mid- to high-end retail space,” Popov said. The two business partners put out feelers within the community in search of finding retailers who would be a good fit in the space. Those who were interested jumped at the opportunity to have a presence Downtown, she said.

The two also hope to activate an existing patio behind the retail space, bringing in live music, weekend markets and other events.

“Just helping these retailers also fulfill their dreams and maybe having a storefront that they couldn’t have otherwise, I’m honored to be a part of that,” Nicasio said.

Flirté Beauty — a beauty brand that makes clean, vegan and cruelty-free lip and hair care products — is one of the retailers. Founder Renae Franz started her business in December 2019, just before the pandemic.

“The whole premise of the company is that we use an app that’s now patented technology to scan your nipple color and match you to your perfect lip color,” Franz said.

The app takes the initial photo and after finding the color match, it deletes the photo.

“We keep your nips on your lips,” Franz said.

click to enlarge Flex retail space Proper Shops opening Downtown
(SWOON Media/Submitted)
The Bra Spa founder, Margo Hall, in her new microshop space at Proper Shops.

Flirté Beauty products can also be found at the local eastside lingerie store, The Bra Spa. A full-service bra fitting boutique that carries an extensive range of sizes and fitting specialists. The luxury experience will soon open a small location at the Proper Shops.

“It’s a great collaboration that really fits with bras because it’s all about the boobs,” owner Margo Hall said.

Hall said she was approached by Nicasio in October, and found the retail space to be fabulous and an exciting opportunity to collaborate. “I think it’s really great to have this second location that’s all affordable and has a completely different demographic,” she said.

Nicasio and Popov recently hosted a happy hour, Hall said, where they invited the retailers to meet each other. She said she feels like the space will allow the small businesses to feed off each other’s energy.

“I’m really looking forward to connecting with the community (and) the vendors in that whole space,” Franz said. “This is going to be a fun place where people can walk through with a glass of wine and mix and mingle not just with the vendors but (with) each other.

Proper Shop Grand Opening

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3 and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4

WHERE: Proper Shops, 300 E. Congress Street

INFO: @propershopstucson, propershoptucson.com

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