Application Number: 14
INITIATIVE: What is the title of your initiative?
Building a Virtual Knowledge Commons for Pop-up Shops
RATIONALE: Why was this initiative developed? Briefly describe your vision for this initiative: what changes would you like to see in your community, in the college/university, and for the student experience?
Commercial activities are the engine of an economy and backbone of socially vibrant communities. Vacant storefronts in a neighbourhood indicate declining activities overall in that area, contribute to reduced aesthetic appeal, increased safety concerns, and discouraging walk-by traffic. Pop-up shops, as temporary stores that “pop up” for a few days or months, offer one solution to revitalize these areas, especially when positioned as incubators to test the market and/or new products. Domestically and internationally, pop-up projects have been implemented, yet knowledge learned has not been systematically curated and mobilized. This proposed initiative fills the gap by researching and disseminating best practices nationally via a digital platform. University students, as aspiring entrepreneurs and city builders, will gain opportunities through this project to participate in processes of knowledge creation and application through implementing pop-up shops in identified communities. According to a recent McKensey report (2016), engaging radically with society is the new frontier of competitive advantage for businesses. This initiative will cultivate the spirit of strong social engagement for the students’ future success. We propose to build a Virtual Knowledge Commons for Pop-up Shops (VKCPS) as an online community resource centre. It will: 1) provide a civic space for those pursuing pop-up solutions to gather, search for inspirations, and exchange ideas; 2) facilitate knowledge dissemination to communities throughout Canada and beyond who seek to revitalize street front spaces; 3) foster online-offline interactions among community leaders, municipalities, and citizens who are eager to promote economic and social cultural vibrancy of their neighbourhoods; and 4) establish a learning resources bank for undergraduate and graduate students to participate in research, experiential learning, and civic actions. We envision the VKCPS and student engagement continuing beyond the timeframe of this initiative.
GOVERNANCE AND PARTNERSHIPS: Who will oversee and manage the initiative? How does it connect with other local, regional, or national projects or networks?
Dr. Hong Yu, Director and Associate Professor, and Sean Sedlezky, Manager of Program Design, at the Ted Rogers School of Retail Management (TRSRM) at Ryerson University will oversee and manage the initiative. Kay Matthews, Executive Director of Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (OBIAA), will be the collaborator who serves as business community liaison for knowledge mobility and student experiential learning projects. This initiative will connect the students with local organizations (such as Enterprise Toronto and BIAs) along with an open digital hub allowing regional and national communities to replicate and share best practices. Other trade associations, such as The Retail Merchants Association of Canada, and The Retail Council of Canada’s My Store division, will also be leveraged to expand the reach of this initiative.
OVERVIEW OF ACTIVITIES: Briefly describe the activities of the initiative: when did it start, what organizations and departments are participating? Give a few examples of what participants will be doing.
For the past 10 years, Ryerson’s TRSRM has implemented a number of pop-up retail related projects. The plan to expand the initiative was inspired by a successful pop-up shop project done by WoodGreen Community Services along with the Danforth Avenue East Community Association (DECA). The proposed initiative will provide a sustainable home for this project (as requested by GreenWood). Additionally, we will research internationally on pop-up retail and community revitalization best practices in various contexts, including urban core commercial centres, gentrifying neighbourhoods, less privileged areas, and rural main streets to develop 5 case studies. These case studies will form the core content of the VKCPS, which will be used for knowledge dissemination cross communities in Canada and as a learning resources bank for students. The OBIAA will help identify communities and liaise Ryerson students’ experiential learning projects working with the communities. In addition, OBIAA’s national conference will provide a platform for knowledge mobility. Please see the appendix A for detailed action plan and timelines.
STRATEGIC LEARNING: What will success look like both in the short-term and the long-term? How are you assessing results? What will you do with this information, and with whom are you sharing lessons?
Short-term success will include completing 5 case studies, establishing the VKCPS, participating in an OBIAA national conference to promote the VKCPS, and completing one students’ experiential learning project with an identified community. Long-term success will include continued update of the VKCPS and outreach to Canadian communities and sustained experiential learning projects for students. Additionally, we plan to continue to run pop-up retail case competitions among undergraduate and graduate students, as well as high school students to promote knowledge-sharing and city and community engagement. Results will be assessed qualitatively (i.e. interviews and questionnaires) and quantitatively (i.e., course surveys, # of experiential learning opportunities, VKCPS viewing times, and #of participants in case competitions). Please see the appendix B for details.
Would you consider your initiative to be a social enterprise?
Does the proposed initiative have potential to be applied elsewhere in Canada? If yes, please explain.
Yes. The VKCPS is a digital hub and knowledge commons that can be accessed across Canada and beyond. The process of knowledge creation and dissemination can be applied elsewhere as well. The initiative will make a positive impact on society through knowledge creation and sharing among various stakeholders and promoting active participation of civic actions among citizens, especially university and high school students.
1. APPROACH: Which departments are involved in this initiative? How will they work with community organizations, social enterprise, local government and within post-secondary institutions (i.e. with professors, administration and students)?
Hong Yu and Sean Sedlezky, members of Ryerson TRSRM, will lead the project overall and the development of the VKCPS resources along with the network of internal and external participants to expand student and community engagement activities. This will include the creation of new materials to complement the Pop Up Shop Toolkit created by WoodGreen that can serve as turn-key kit for new communities and as learning resources bank to be used by Ryerson or external university/college professors. The project will also include the establishment of a digital hub and events to facilitate new connections and collaboration opportunities between interested participants. Seung Hwan (Mark) Lee will help guide an undergraduate research assistant and incorporate a project plan into his RMG920 Retail Case Studies course for students to develop and write 5 Case Studies on Pop Up Retail and Street Front Revitalization including the DECA Pop Up Shop example plus national and global initiatives, with a goal of having at least one case officially published. Kay Mathews, Executive Director of Ontario BIA Association, will be the collaborator who will serve as business community liaison for knowledge mobility and student experiential learning projects. Diane Dyson, Director of Research and Public Policy from WoodGreen, and Gay Stephenson and Tina Scherz, WoodGreen’s Community Economic Development Co-ordinators will serve as project advisers. Pauline Larsen, Senior Economic Development Manager with the Downtown Yonge BIA, will also act as a project adviser with relevant experience and local/regional networks.
2. INFLUENCING POST-SECONDARY INSTITUTIONS: Will research or teaching within the post secondary institution you are a part of or working with be changed as a result of this initiative? How will the administration staff, faculty, and students be involved and recognized for their accomplishments within the college/ university?
The faculty, staff, and students who are involved in the initiative will have a unique opportunity to gain new knowledge, work within a multidisciplinary team, engage in developing solutions to real world problems, and interact with civic leaders/volunteers. Within Ryerson, we expect the initiative will draw interests of students from various disciplines, such as Retail Management, Real Estate Management, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Business Technology Management, Fashion, Urban and Regional Planning, and Community Services, to form multidisciplinary teams. In addition, potential engagement can also be expected from those in Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone, City Building Institute, the Fashion Zone and student groups such as the Ryerson Consulting Initiative and ENACTUS Ryerson’s Start-Me-Up initiative. All faculty and staff involved will be recognized for their service achievements, an integral mandate of their job responsibilities. The students may be able to earn a course credit or be recognized as their volunteer/leadership achievements, which are part of meaningful university experiences.
IMPACT: What will you be able to accomplish now that you could not before the collaboration? In what way will your organization work differently as a result of this initiative?
In March, OBIAA will begin a parallel project to gather the return on investment of Ontario’s economy and community since the inception of the BIA legislation in the 1970s. As a part of this project we will be identifying key indicators for success for BIAs as well as identifying and, if possible, creating tools which will help keep our downtowns relevant and vital. Developing the popup research (VKCPS) will assist our BIAs in strategically developing incubator and popup businesses. In 2005 the OBIAA Board presented to the Planning, Environment, Resource, and Land-use (PERL) Deputy Minister arguing that the vacant unit rebate is actually adding to the decline of our downtowns and that it should be reignited as an Attraction Rebate. The Attraction Guidelines include popup vs incubator for Main Street Class. For over 200 years, our downtowns have nurtured independent businesses and are the last bastion for the independent local entrepreneurs to develop and flourish. This project may be a key tool in the BIA tool kit.
Dr Hong Yu
Phone Number: 416-979-5000 x.2540
Ms Kay Matthews
Phone Number: 647-521-5341
Ms Dana Marlatt
Dr Seung Hwan (Mark) Lee
Other relevant information/comments
Advisers: Diane Dyson, Director – Research and Public Policy WoodGreen Community Services 416-645-6000 x.1252 email@example.com Gay Stephenson, Community Economic Development Coordinator WoodGreen Community Services 416-645-6000 x.1322 GStephenson@woodgreen.org Pauline Larsen, Senior Economic Development Manager Downtown Yonge BIA 416-597-0255 x.231 PLarsen@downtownyonge.com