Hartford Market Set to Transform Vacant Storefronts During Holiday Shopping Season

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The pandemic left a lot of storefronts lonely; lost business meant lots of closed doors and empty stores. But, there’s a push in Hartford to make them lively again.

Six pop up shops are set to open both on Pratt and Trumbull Streets for the next six weeks in vacant storefronts.

Organizers say it's a chance to help cross items off your holiday shopping list and perhaps help business turn their pop-up into a permanent storefront.

Winterfair, as it’s called, is a first of its kind event in the Capitol City.

“We don’t need to rehash what happened last year. We all went through it. We all felt it. And this opportunity to open up the Winter Garden here at 88 Pratt, it’s magic,” said Joe Ploof, founder and CEO of Hanging Hills Brewing Company.

The coronavirus crisis forced Hanging Hills to hang up its hat, closing the company’s Hartford brewery in March of 2020.

It’s setting up a pop-up bar at 88 Pratt Street, a vacant building, during the holiday season.

“We’re a Hartford brand, I live in Hartford, my kids go to Hartford schools. I moved here, but this is my city. I just really wanted to be a part of the makers that are down here," Ploof said.

“It’s so amazing that now we won’t be alone. We’re going to have tons of retail back in downtown Hartford,” said Rory Gale, owner of Hartford Prints!, a popular family-run store on the same street as some of the pop-up shops.

Gale says she’s been dreaming of the day these vacant storefronts breathe some life again.

So while shopping local may take a little extra effort, she says your support this holiday season could make all the difference to downtown Hartford.

“Showing that you care and you want us to be here, that you want Hartford Prints to be here and that you want these other small makers to have storefronts in Hartford. If they do well in the Winterfair program, we have tons of vacancy. They could have a home here,” said Gale.

The 23-day Winterfair holiday market will kicks off Friday, November 26 from 6 to 10 p.m.

For a list of the pop-up locations and hours for the rest of the holiday season, head to its website.

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