If you like parklets, then you need to check out "market stalls," the newest streetside feature in Dallas' Bishop Arts District.
Market stalls have begun cropping up in front of businesses around Bishop Arts, as a way for vendors to display their wares and allow customers to remain outside while shopping.
They're a timely innovation that comes during these coronavirus days when people are striving to observe social distancing practices. They also add European flair and contribute to Dallas' journey as a more urban, walkable place.
Bishop Arts property owner Jim Lake asked the Better Block Foundation, the urban advocacy group, to build these wooden shelving stands for their tenants, and has already fielded reservations from businesses that include Ely Artisans, Indigo 1745, and Bishop Street Market.
"We have a few tenants who have reserved the stalls in order to sell their products on the sidewalk, since many people are still easing up to entering stores for shopping," a Jim Lake spokesperson says.
The market stalls are built from the same handsome blond planks of cedar used by the Better Block team to build the parklets, the trendy pop-up patios with built-in seating, installed in a parking space in front of a restaurant entrance, also designed to enhance social distancing.
Better Block founder Jason Roberts says that the stalls are another element in their program to transform streets into more open places. They'd already done outdoor vegetable stalls to help restaurants such as Oddfellows in Bishop Arts turn into bodegas, and these were a bigger offshoot.
"The inspiration came from a design in Slovenia whose capital city Ljubljana is noted for the market stalls on its main streets," Roberts says. "The stalls we did are beautiful and also collapsible, so that a merchant can fold them up at the end of the day."
Making them sturdy was important, both from a pragmatic standpoint and in terms of making the project feel polished and credible.
"The alternative would have been pop-up tents from Walmart, that require you to weigh them down with sandbags, and they fall apart," he says. "The ones we built won't blow away in the wind, and they also feel cohensive. It helps win people over."
That includes not only local politicians but also people for whom the act of taking away a parking space is beyond the pale.
"Dallas likes to be able to see the entrance from their car," he says. "You can park your car at a Target and it'll be okay to park a great distance away. In Bishop Arts, you never have to park more than two blocks away, and yet people will bitch mercilessly."
Another amusing objection that's floated is the idea that parklets and market stalls will be hit by a car.
"You have cars parked in a parking space and no one seems worried, but this is the thing, with an umbrella on top, that people are worried about hitting," he says.