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CartWheel's Jessica Rogers looks to the next pop-up frontier

Kansas City's pop-up pioneer Jessica Rogers is behind CartWheel.



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The pop-up scene outside the warehouses the first weekend of the month had grown to include people selling from tables in the middle of streets, sidewalks and parking lots, which Arnett-Bequeaith says blocked access to the 20 established shops and caused traffic concerns — pedestrian and vehicle. She says weekends can bring more than 5,000 people to the area.

Arnett-Bequeaith says the permit is permanent and she has worked out agreements to allow food trucks on the streets, but with restrictions on where and when they can sell. And each pays a fee.

Would she let pop-up retailers back in?

"If they are willing to pay, I'm willing to sit down and talk to them about a business agreement," she says.

But some vendors argue that public streets and sidewalks should remain fair game.

"He found this loophole, and now he has a monopoly on the area," Brezinka says of Summers. "It doesn't seem fair."

So the banned retail pop-ups have turned their efforts to an event several blocks southwest of the Monty Summers zone — the gypsy market. Rogers helps manage Genessee Royale, and her boss, Todd Schulte, gave the OK for use of the restaurant lot. Rogers' bus is now a regular here and at First Fridays in the Crossroads, and she has sold at other festivals and markets around town.

"We're excited to be part of getting this end of the West Bottoms going," Rogers says of the gypsy market. "And besides, we're different from the other end. We're more youthful, funkier."

The July West Bottoms snafu was the first time that Rogers had been asked to leave while selling, but others have made it clear in advance that she isn't welcome.

A couple of weeks before this spring's Brookside Art Annual, she asked to join. She says she received an e-mail response that her presence would be disrespectful to the artists who signed up a year ago.

Food trucks and restaurants had a disagreement similar to the West Bottoms retail argument, recalls John Pajor, with KC Bizcare, though the result was friendlier. Restaurant owners went back and forth on whether food trucks were stealing or drawing business at First Fridays in the Crossroads before deciding the more, the merrier. The settlement, however, came with some rules. The food trucks have their own desig­nated area, called the Truck Stop. Pajor says all involved seem to be happy with the setup.

"I think the arrangement adds to the festival atmosphere down there," Pajor says. "You really feel like there's a party going on."

He recalls Rogers' call to him last fall as the first time he had heard plans for a retail business on wheels. After Rogers started CartWheel, at least a couple of other mobile shops hit his radar. An Airstream trailer carries MoVi, a vintage-meets-modern clothing boutique. A weathered, UPS-like truck holds Blue Collar Antique and Restoration and its spiffed-up masculine finds, such as foundry molds turned into décor. And another mobile clothier is rumored to be in the works.

To avoid issues with the city, pop-up owners must conquer a paperwork checklist similar to that completed by traditional businesses. Pop-ups need sales-tax identification numbers, a registration with the Missouri Secretary of State's office, and a business license. Completing the process costs less than $100.

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