Come Christmastime, downtown’s empty Macy’s building — the most painfully obvious bellwether of record State Street vacancies — will transform into a pop-up Christmas Night Market. Retailers, food vendors, winemakers, and other merchants will occupy individual stalls set among holiday decor, carolers, and a special space for Santa Claus. The Night Market will open on evenings for six weeks, beginning on Black Friday, November 23, and ending January 6.
At least that’s the plan hatched by Glen Broomberg, a downtown tenant gone hog wild with the spirit of giving. Broomberg — who moved to Santa Barbara from South Africa seven years ago and has a background in retail and entertainment — said he was struck by the emptiness of State Street when fire and flood wiped out last year’s holiday sales. “I just felt bad for retailers,” Broomberg said. “One day I stepped outside, looked up and down the street, and literally saw no one.”
Broomberg said the Night Market idea was inspired by similar models in Europe and on the East Coast — like at Bryant Park in New York — and that he easily brokered a deal with the owners of Paseo Nuevo, who’ve been “extremely supportive.” Broomberg is footing the entire bill himself and charging only a nominal rental fee to participants. Ugg has already signed up, and talks with Williams Sonoma and Pottery Barn are ongoing. Broomberg said he’s just starting to get the word out and hopes to attract smaller, local vendors as well.
City Hall supports the concept, too. “The Night Market is a wonderful idea to bring together artisans to create a festive holiday shopping experience that welcomes families downtown in the evenings,” said Assistant City Manager Nina Johnson. “Temporary retail opportunities generate excitement and more energy on the street.” Johnson highlighted similar city-sponsored initiatives, including a pop-up program launching this month, with an informational meeting scheduled for September 12 and a speed-date type event on September 19 to connect entrepreneurs with property owners. For more details, visit santabarbaraca.gov/popup.