Greenfield, GCC partnership looks to create ‘strong entrepreneurial system’

  • Wendell resident Kelly Surprenant of The Rainbow Rack, pictured in The Goods Pop-Up Shop at 357 Main St. in Greenfield. Her business will occupy the space through Oct. 15. STAFF PHOTO/Mary Byrne

  • Wendell resident Kelly Surprenant of The Rainbow Rack, pictured in The Goods Pop-Up Shop at 357 Main St. in Greenfield. Her business will occupy the space through Oct. 15. STAFF PHOTO/Mary Byrne

Staff Writer
Published: 9/22/2022 1:47:10 PM

GREENFIELD — Greenfield Community College is partnering with the city to offer local entrepreneurs a space on Main Street, called The Goods Pop-Up Shop, to put their ideas to the test.

“The Goods came up as an idea a couple of years ago when GCC still had the Downtown Center,” said Max Fripp, the college’s director of innovation and entrepreneurship. “The idea was, ‘How can we do two things — help revamp vacant storefronts in downtown to revitalize our downtown community, and how can we support entrepreneurs and other people who dream of owning their own business?’”

Fast forward, he said, to the city securing a grant earlier this year in the amount of $50,000 — $32,000 of which was used to beautify the space at 357 Main St., cover rent through December, and pay a stipend to Mpress Bennu, who will help vendors ensure they have the necessary insurance and help to run their social media pages.

“We’re trying to get people who might be on the cusp of opening up a storefront in our downtown,” said MJ Adams, director of community and economic development. “We’re hoping that when they’re done with the pop-up, we’re leading them down the path to take a look at another storefront in the downtown that might work.”

She said the remaining dollars from the grant will be used to help business owners improve their storefronts with funding for signs, awnings, window lighting and storefront fixtures. The city also plans to hire a design consultant to work with businesses.

Thanks to the city’s grant, Fripp said, vendors will retain 100% of the profit.

“We are looking for businesses that are mature or maturing — not necessarily early, early startups — so that we know they have enough product to fill a store,” he noted.

That’s with the exception of two businesses, he said.

“We will have two youth-led pop-ups, including one cafe, where they will serve smoothies,” Fripp said. These students, he explained, are part of the BEACON Program, which is a partnership between GCC and Greenfield High School.

Among the first to set up shop is entrepreneur Kelly Surprenant, according to Fripp. The Wendell resident takes vintage clothing and upcycles it (creatively reusing an item) using elaborate embroideries and hand-woven designs. She said the business, which she has been running out of her home for the last year, was inspired by a love of embroidery and a family background in square dancing.

“I’m super, super excited about this opportunity,” said Surprenant, owner of The Rainbow Rack, which opened for business in the pop-up shop this week. “It’s going to give me an opportunity to see what business would look like in a storefront.”

Surprenant typically sells her products at live events, as well as online through Etsy.

“Something like this is such an amazing chance, not only to make sales but to gain this invaluable data,” she said.

Echoing a similar sentiment, Fripp said pop-up shops are an important part of the entrepreneurship work happening at GCC.

“By having multiple touchpoints and ways we can support entrepreneurs, we think we’ll create a strong entrepreneurial system in Franklin County with Greenfield as a hub,” he said.

Following The Rainbow Rack, which will occupy the Main Street space through Oct. 15, programming is scheduled for the Children’s Business Fair from Oct. 21 to 23. Mother Hen’s Pantry will be there from Oct. 24 to Nov. 6, Beeso Box from Nov. 7 to Nov. 13, Crown Top Designs from Dec. 2 to Dec. 4, and finally, Africana Store and Fitness from Dec. 15 to Dec. 31.

“With GCC’s Downtown Center being on the market, we don’t want to lose GCC’s presence downtown,” Adams explained, referencing the January announcement that the college would be consolidating to its main campus. “So this has been a great partnership with the GCC staff, because they’re actually running it and making connections, and connecting it to their entrepreneurial efforts.”

Fripp said he hopes The Goods model of offering pop-up shops becomes a long-term strategy in terms of helping landlords and entrepreneurs, and creating a sense of community pride by showcasing local artisans and makers.

“We imagine these pop-ups being an opportunity to literally launch businesses,” he said, “and businesses that are financially stable.”

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne.


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