A new movement is slowly taking root in San Antonio: the pop-up. Over the course of the past few years, the city has seen an increasing number of physically temporary businesses, taking the form of dinners, concerts, art exhibits, meetings, block parties, movies, and fitness festivals, to name a few.

The latest addition to the ever-growing list of pop-ups? The Pop-Up Emporium. Selling “funky finds, furnishings & art,” this pop-up sale aims to add depth to an expanding cultural trend, by donating 10% of proceeds to Contemporary Art Month (CAM). The Emporium will also be hosting several other pop-ups within the warehouse at 1119 South St. Mary’s including a Special Projects SocialDinner at the Emporium,” exercise classes by MBS Fitness, the Artist Foundation’s annual Moveable Art Party, and a coffee cart by Local Coffee.

Pop-Up Emporium

Stacey Hill and Lori Dunlap, well-known supporters of the arts in San Antonio, came together to make their idea for a pop-up art and furnishings store a reality. They easily enlisted several friends, also supporters of the arts, collectors, and artists, to add to the Emporium, and set a date during CAM.

“Stacey and I had been talking about doing it,” Dunlap said, “and everybody’s timing seemed to work.”

“The concept of a pop up is an interesting thing. Its fairly new in San Antonio … and people are having a hard time grasping it,” Hill said, pointing to several questions she’d received about the duration, location, and purpose of the sale. Both Hill and Dunlap agreed that the Emporium, added to the lengthening list of similar events, could help to broaden the definition of a pop-up and solidify the community’s understanding of the concept.

Items in the sale include designer furniture, original art, light fixtures, rugs, giant eyeballs and more ranging in price from $10 to $6,000. Local Coffee, rumored to have an eye on opening a Southtown location, will serve customers on both weekends of the pop-up.

Among items for sale at the Pop-Up Emporium are a pair of large eyeballs. (Photo courtesy of the Pop-Up Emporium’s Facebook page.)

Tim McDiarmid, chef and co-curator of Special Projects Social, which is celebrating its second anniversary on the night of the Emporium dinner, said that she and business partner Peter Zubiate will donate partial proceeds from the event to CAM. One of the first SPS dinners took place in the Emporium’s South Saint Mary’s location, a warehouse owned by Stacey Hill. Guest chef Stephanie Sugawara will cook, and Miss CAM Antonio is expected to make an appearance.

Special Projects Social's Dinner at the Emporium.
Special Projects Social’s Dinner at the Emporium.

Scheduled on the same night as Luminaria, McDiarmid expressed no concern of a potential conflict. “It adds to how much action there is downtown,” she said. “Everyone should do something! It’s nice to add to the hustle and bustle.”


The Emporium will be one of the stops for the Artist Foundation’s Moveable Art Party, featuring video pieces by local artists. MAP, a ticketed event, will take place on the night of March 2. Attendees will receive a map revealing the location of art and film venues around Southtown where the work of Artist Foundation award recipients will be displayed.

Included in the Pop-Up Emporium’s MAP exhibit will be a video piece by artist Justin Parr, founder of FL!GHT Gallery and a featured Emporium purveyor. Parr described the film as an autobiography of the city, “You watch it and it’s little San Antonio moments: doing artwork with Franco Mondini, going in to a bakery and buying pink cake, cleaning an air conditioner out at a carwash, all spliced together.”

Parr will have blown glass pieces and other works of art included in the Emporium sale.

Glass pieces by Justin Parr will be on sale at the Pop-Up Emporium.(Photo courtesy of Justin Parr.)
Glass pieces by Justin Parr will be on sale at the Pop-Up Emporium.(Photo courtesy of Justin Parr.)

The future of this pop-up will depend on the success of this sale, but Hill and Dunlap speculated that future Emporium events are a real possibility.

“It’s been so easy and spontaneous to pull it together, and there were so many people who wanted to participate that we kind of ran out of space,” Dunlap said.

McDiarmid noted the mutual benefit of the cross-promotion between the Special Projects Social and the Emporium: “Clients of mine wouldn’t have known about the Pop-Up and vice versa.”

Hill was encouraged by the amount of buzz generated so far by the event, noting that the sale appeals to a diverse crowd. “There’s a little bit for everyone,” she said. “Collectors, young people – there’s something here for everybody.”

The Emporium will be open Tuesday through Saturday, February 26 to March 10, from 11am to 5pm and by appointment on Monday. See the Pop-Up’s website or Facebook page for more details and images of featured items.

Miriam Sitz works for Accion Texas Inc., the nation’s largest non-profit microlender. A graduate of Trinity University, she blogs on Miriam210.com and sells handmade goods on TinderboxGoods.com. Follow her on Twitter at @miriamsitz. [Click here for more stories from Miriam Sitz on the Rivard Report.]

Related Stories on the Rivard Report:

Cheers to Pop-up Dinners, and the Women Chefs who Spawn Them December 2012

Tim the Girl Brought the ‘Pop-up Restaurant’ to San Antonio December 2012

Twilight on the Plaza: Dining al Fresco in the Shadow of the Alamo November 2012

Where I Live: Southtown August 2012

Miriam Sitz writes about urbanism, architecture, design, and more. Follow her on Twitter at @MiriamSitz