The corner of Pulaski and Glen Street was bustling last month in a way that is rare for Glen Cove. Beginning with a media preview Friday night and then opening to the public on Saturday, June 19, a YouOffice small business pop-up event and art collective brought in vendors, shoppers, exotic automobiles and curious residents eager to get out, mingle and see something new.
Hosted by YouOffice, on Glen Street, in collaboration with the First City Project, the pop-up market brought in more than 30 vendors, who filled the three floors of office suites, and 13 artists, who displayed their work at Aced Gallery on the street level, an installation that will remain open to the public on a limited basis for the next couple of weeks. Vendors came from nearby villages like Sea Cliff and Locust Valley as well as from Franklin Square, Long Beach and Brooklyn.
“We decided to do this event to bring in local small businesses, have them fill our suites,” Grace Flanagan, YouOffice’s event production manager, said, “and invite in shoppers.”
Since the building opened in 2015, YouOffice has rented private office suites to small businesses. Its mission has been to provide a cost-effective space where people can work and also have the opportunity to network with other small business owners. Flanagan said she had decided to host a pop-up market in March, an event that was only three hours long, and despite the pandemic restrictions that were still in place at the time and the fact that it was a last-minute event, there was a lot of interest.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” Flanagan said, “but it was a huge success.”
Vendors at the pop-up market were excited to be a part of it, and some had been looking forward to returning after the success of the first one. They ranged from bakers to artists to collectors and resellers.
Alexis Konstantakis, who owns a clothing company called Vintage by Lex in Long Beach, took part in both pop-ups at YouOffice. “It’s a different experience interacting with people in person versus online, since I’ve been doing it online for three years now,” he said. “I like getting to meet my customers, I like getting to see them shop . . . it’s just fun.”
For the June event, YouOffice collaborated with First City Project to incorporate more artists and exotic cars. First City Project was created by Glen Cove resident and business owner Joe LaPadula in 2017, after he purchased the JH Coles homestead on Glen Street and turned it into an urban art showcase. The historic home is a designated landmark that has architectural details dating to 1810, and other portions dating to 1690. The goal of the project is “to introduce residents … to the next generation of urban-themed artists through the transformation” of the historic structure, according to its website.
“Being that Glen Cove is one of two cities on Long Island, and was the first to become a city,” LaPadula said, “the name stuck.”
First City Project, which has just been incorporated as a nonprofit, hosted three charity events as well as private events in 2017 and 2018 at the historic home until LaPadula began renovating it three years ago. It has been used as commercial space over the years, housing various restaurants and retail spaces, but because it is a 9,000-square-foot structure with multiple floors, LaPadula said, it was too big and impractical for most businesses. Instead, he said, ahead of the renovations, he submitted plans to the city for a four-tenant subdivision, which was approved.
“It would’ve been cheaper and faster to knock the building down,” LaPadula said, “but we restored it, and it took a couple of years.”
The first tenant, Southdown Coffee, opened in April 2020, making the space its flagship store, roasting coffee for all four of its locations. The pandemic has made it more difficult to secure other tenants. LaPadula, who also owns Martino Auto Concepts, has helped organized events such as the Thursday night car shows in downtown Glen Cove and the annual Gold Coast Concours/Bimmerstock, which doubles as a car show and a fundraiser for the Diabetes Research Institute.
For the pop-up event, he said, he reached out to artists he knows to help curate the “Summer Love” gallery exhibit, which includes street art, pop art and gallery art by artists from around the country. The gallery will be open on weekends until July 19, with viewings by appointment only during the week.
“This is a reintroduction to everything we’ve done,” LaPadula said. “I think a lot of people are just anxious for something to do.”
He said he hoped to do another event downtown this month, and wanted to get more storefronts involved. “I hope to do a lot more projects, and want to take over vacant storefronts just to make the city look better and not so empty,” he said. “We’ve got some cool things going on. We just have to keep going.”
Leah Dwyer contributed to this story.