Home Local What to Expect from REV’s 3-Month Pop-Up Retail Project

What to Expect from REV’s 3-Month Pop-Up Retail Project


REV Birmingham believes that cool places to shop are vital ingredients for vibrancy in a city—and REV believes Birmingham needs more of that. That’s why this fall, the REV team is launching a demonstration project designed to prove and improve downtown Birmingham’s market for more retail.

From September 29 to December 14, 2019, REV is parking shipping container stores, hanging hammock swings, and planning fun events in a surface parking lot located at 1900 2nd Avenue North. They’re calling it Upswing – because Birmingham is on the upswing, because local shops are making a comeback, and because there are literal swings on the lot.

Make plans to shop local with these Birmingham businesses in converted shipping container stores: Domestique Coffee, Hide & Hunter + Great Bear Wax Co., and Urban Vintage Clothing + Magic City T-shirts. Hang out on brightly colored swings, rockers or plain ol’ bistro sets and work (or play) using Upswing’s free wifi. And, mark your calendars for Upswing’s events this fall. Here are a few examples of events to come, and even more events for the three-month project will be announced soon.

Friday, Sept. 27

  • Formations on The Plaza & Upswing Soft Opening, noon – 12:20 p.m.
    A brief lunchtime performance from Forma’s dance company.

Sunday, Sept. 29

  • Alabama Multicultural Street Fair, noon – 5 p.m.
    A festival celebrating the cultural diversity and the heritage of Alabama with arts, music, dance, and food.Tickets required.

Sunday, Oct. 6

Tuesday, Oct. 8

  • Mountain High Run Club Fun Run, 5:30 a.m. – 6:30 a.m.
    A morning run with Mountain High Outfitters Run Club, followed by coffee at Domestique at Upswing.

Thursday, Oct. 17

  • Outdoor Movie Night with The Pizitz: Hocus Pocus, 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.
    Take a trip to Salem, Massachusetts, with Disney cult classic Hocus Pocus.

Sunday, Oct. 20

  • Sundays on 2nd: Pop-Up Boxing, 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
    A Sunday afternoon boxing class hosted by Battle Republic.

Thursday, Oct. 24

  • Mountain High Run Club Fun Run, 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.
    An evening run with a twist: Group run with drinks to follow at The Louis.

Sunday, Oct. 27

  • Pup-swing, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
    A dog-themed HOWLoween event, with more details coming soon.

Saturday, Nov.  23

  • The Big Pitch presented by PNC, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
    REV’s live business pitch competition designed to find and feed Birmingham’s next big things. More info at bigpitchbham.com.

Visit upswingbham.com and follow @revbham on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and hashtag #UpswingBham for event updates, reminders and announcements!

REV would like to thank Hamburger Creative for their design work on the Upswing logo and Ladd Real Estate for helping elevate the Upswing lot for this project.

About REV Birmingham: REV Birmingham (REV) is a place-based revitalization and economic development nonprofit with a mission of creating vibrant commercial districts. revbirmingham.org.

Downtown Birmingham is ready for an ‘Upswing’ in retail

By David Fleming
CEO & President, REV Birmingham

Birmingham has award-winning green spaces, renowned restaurants, a multi-million dollar tech company whose logo will soon grace the top of downtown’s tallest building. Right now, we have more momentum, investment and growth than Birmingham has seen since the early days when we earned the name “Magic City.”

But amidst all these triumphs, I believe that Birmingham is still missing something important—something that inspires people to experience downtown on foot, that can tell the story of our city and its cultures.

It’s retail—one of the most vital ingredients for vibrancy in a city—and we need more of it.

Vibrant business districts embody the soul of a place. They make you tout your hometown, or broadcast where you travel, and reminisce when you return home. They draw you in and call you to explore, to lay roots, to share what you discover with family and friends.

It’s about even more than how our city makes us feel, though. Lively retail districts have tangible effects on a city.

  • Retail encourages walkability. People don’t like walking past vacant storefronts. A filled-in fabric communicates that a district is established, safe and treasured.
  • Retailers of all sizes connect major anchors. That means destinations like the McWane Center and Birmingham Civil Rights Institute draw people in, but retail keeps them here to spend money longer. We need urban fabric to feel connected; and we need revenue to build a stronger city.
  • An active retail market allows us to incubate locally grown businesses—which shape our city’s personality and celebrate its character.
  • Unique, convenient retail options add to the quality of life for the growing residential population in the district. It’s as beneficial for those who live here as it is for those who work and visit downtown.

In Birmingham, 2nd and 3rd Avenues west of 20th Street were once the city’s primary retail destination. This district’s history can also be a painful reminder of our city’s role as a battleground for civil rights, because, in its heyday, not all were welcome here.

Now, in a place full of historic buildings ripe for adaptive reuse, it’s time to renew this retail district for everyone.

That’s why REV Birmingham is launching Upswing—a 3-month-long demonstration project designed to prove and improve downtown’s market for retail.

From September 29 through December 14, REV will transform a surface parking lot at the corner of 2nd Avenue North and 19th  Street (across the street from The Pizitz and McWane) into a mini retail district with Birmingham businesses operating out of converted shipping containers. Brightly colored hammock swings will flank the shipping container shops, and bistro sets and rockers will line the sidewalks, inviting people to stop and enjoy whatever bit of fall weather Alabama gets. A calendar of events will occupy the space many nights and weekends, giving people reasons to enjoy downtown throughout the week. (Check upswingbham.com and REV’s social media for event details.)

We believe our city is ready for more authentic, vibrant retail – and we’re looking forward to proving it through the Upswing experience this fall.