A few days before applications for Project: PopUp, were due, artist and former teacher Carrie Pendergrass woke up in the middle of the night with a business idea.
"It was really strange, actually," she said. "I was really ready for a change, and I had been thinking about a business in the back of my head for years and years. It was always something I thought, 'If I'm able to do it, it will be when I'm a lot older,'" the 38-year-old said.
Now, she has her own business—Sewn to the Sky, which offers handmade gifts, mainly from local artists.
"I represent between 20 and 25 artists, including myself," she said. "I also sell fabric for people that sew. [We have] modern kinds of fabric that have sort of a retro-looking feel that you can't find in regular stores."
She also offers vintage fabrics.
Project: PopUp is a retail incubator program in which River City Company leaders gave participants, such as Pendergrass, first-floor commercial space and six months' free rent in the 800 block of Chestnut Street.
On Tuesday, Pendergrass participated in another River City Company project—the first of several cash mob events.
A cash mob is when a group of people go to a small business on a designated day to make a purchase.
It's a community event driven by social media through which leaders drop hints about the store’s location in advance and announce the location on the day of the event.
“Cash mobs have been tried in cities all over the country as an innovative and easy way to support local businesses," Blair Waddell, retail recruiter for River City, said in a prepared statement.
And Pendergrass said the promotion did seem to draw more people to her store. The cash mob event runs through 6 p.m. Tuesday.
"It's been busier than it usually is, which is awesome," she said.
Pendergrass is taking her business as it comes, six months or so at a time. She has been open for six months and said she will reassess in six more months.
Although it's still in question whether she will be able to financially sustain the business, she said it has already been a personal success.
"[Business is] kind of sporadic," she said. "It's a little on and off, but I still find a lot of people are still coming in and saying, 'Oh, I've never been here.'"