Try-out platform The Box opened its first commercial building in Antwerp on Thursday afternoon. In the ready-to-move-in building in the Kloosterstraat, entrepreneurs are given the opportunity to test their retail business for the general public. A concept that seems to be catching on, because the ‘box’ is filled up to and including the summer of 2023. Alderman of Small Businesses Koen Kennis (N-VA) is pleased with the arrival of The Box. “Young creatives are the pepper and salt that the city needs.”
“With The Box we want to reverse the whole concept of a pop-up store: not one entrepreneur in different places, but different entrepreneurs in one location. They are given a minimum of one week and a maximum of three months to do their thing. Apart from the fact that we only focus on retailers, the entrepreneurs do not have to meet any conditions,” says Esther Vandebroeck (49), project manager of The Box.
The Box originated from an idea of Stebo, an organization that is committed to groups that distance themselves from certain things. The intention is that the platform helps entrepreneurs on their way. “This is the perfect way to check whether your trading plan would work or not in Antwerp,” says Vandebroeck.
“Whoever pitches his tent here hardly has to pay any start-up costs. In addition, we provide a ready-made ‘box’ that entrepreneurs can decorate to their own taste. The store must radiate the look & feel of their product.”
Pepper and salt
After six buildings spread across all Flemish provinces, The Box now settles in the Koekenstad. “Antwerp has been a blind spot on the map for some time. Moreover, there was a lot of demand from the business world for a building in the city. It has been a relatively long-term project, but we are happy that we are finally here”, laughs Vandebroeck. “We have an agreement with the city, but of course hope to stay a little longer.”
Aldermen of the Middle Class Koen Kennis (N-VA) is already enthusiastic about the arrival of the Limburg concept. “Young creatives and entrepreneurs are important to us. They are the salt and pepper we need to make the capital of retail in the Low Countries attractive.”
“In the past, we had a similar concept in Antwerp with the ‘New Nation’. But that was an intensive and difficult process for us. If there are people who are happy to set it up, why should we as a city still do it”, Kennis wonders.
Hip maternity clothes
In his speech, the aldermen immediately welcomed the very first female entrepreneur to move into Kloosterstraat: Rebekka Jeurissen (33), the creative brain behind clothing brand Momster. “I design trendy maternity clothes for women. It’s normally quite good, but I try to respond to fashion with fun colors and fashionable prints. I started the adventure in May and through The Box in Ghent I was already able to get a taste of my own building.”
“But my real target group is in Antwerp. The hipster and fashion vibes reign here. It is also a great honor to be the first to move in here. I’m really looking forward to it.” (lava)