MELROSE — The City of Melrose announced this week that it has launched a pilot program to fill vacant storefronts with small retailers, artists, and makers. The project, funded through a grant from Massachusetts Office of Business Development is designed to provide opportunities for economic growth and added vitality in downtown Melrose.

Project: Pop-Up allows small retailers to access 1-2 currently vacant storefronts at a significantly reduced cost. The retailers will “pop up” for 1-3 months to introduce their businesses to a wider audience, and will have access to a range of support services such as marketing and PR opportunities, and signage and event stipends to help ensure their success.

Melrose will partner with UpNext, a Newton-based, woman-owned business that connects emerging brands to available spaces. UpNext is working with local community groups and the Melrose Chamber of Commerce to identify small businesses that will occupy those spaces later this summer, with a focus on local e-retailers, artists, and artisans.

“New business ventures are always risky, and that’s even more true given the economic impacts of COVID-19,” said Mayor Paul Brodeur, “This project will give emerging businesses and entrepreneurs the space to test drive new concepts and innovation in a brick-and-mortar setting without the commitment of a lengthy lease. I can’t wait to see what vendors are selected.”

Vendors must apply with UpNext to pop up for 2-3 months at 14-16 Essex St., across from City Hall.

“Economic development is an important priority for the city, and the location for these popups couldn’t be more perfect,” said Margot Fleischman, Melrose’s new Director of Strategic Initiatives and Communications. “With the its proximity to Main St, in the heart of our already vibrant and walkable downtown, it’s a great opportunity both for entrepreneurs to take advantage of foot traffic, and for Melrosians to benefit from the added liveliness to the city.

Melrose is the third community after Newton and Needham to host Project: Pop-Up. The program will run from late summer into the fall.

“Pop-ups are a new concept for Melrose,” noted Melrose Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jennifer Manning, “and the Chamber is pleased that the City of Melrose is trying something innovative to support local businesses. The pop-up program is a great fit for our local small retailers, and especially our thriving arts community, and it will be exciting to see vacant spaces occupied with new and diverse brands.”

To apply for Project: Pop-Up please go to

You can follow Project: Pop-Up on Social Media platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.