Some time ago a new pop-up store concept opened doors in North Amsterdam. The little shop called Mama Louise is a so-called ‘Wisselwinkel’, or ‘Shift Shop’, which means that the shop owner and the shop type change every six months.
The idea is pretty simple. Starting local entrepreneurs are offered the opportunity to kickstart their business in this small, flexible space, that was designed by MOS Collective. After the six months experiment, the entrepreneur decides whether or to rent a ‘normal’ shop in the neighborhood and go for the whole shebang. As soon as the entrepreneur has moved out, a new starting business gets the opportunity to give their idea a try. This way the concept aims to make the neighborhood stronger by offering chances to hidden local entrepreneurs.
The Van der Pekbuurt district in the Northern part of Amsterdam is in an early phase of gentrification, characterized by a large share of low incomes and vacant shops. The Shift Shop idea is interesting as it combines the temporary spirit of the pop-up concept with a more fundamental investment in the neighborhood. When it works out, the neighborhood will slowly get filled up with new shops and the spirit of starting entrepreneurs. This makes the area a nicer place and helps people to earn an income at the same time.
The first entrepreneur at Mama Louise is Rathu Gunawardana. He lives in the Van der Pekbuurt and used to repair bikes at home and in his garden to earn some money. The Shift Shop has enabled him to start his bicycle repair shop Rahtour, where he repairs and sells second-hand bikes. Besides he provides information about preparation and equipment for bicycle trips.