The Black Box: Portland’s First Retail Incubator Space
PORTLAND, Maine (October 29, 2018) --- Portland’s growing Washington Avenue corridor welcomes a group of new retail options to the block, in the form of a multi-unit incubator space built inside repurposed shipping containers. Introducing The Black Box, the first retail space of its kind in Portland, offering unique and move-in ready spaces for small businesses to test their product and market without a long-term lease commitment.
The Black Box contains five street-front retail units, all of which are currently occupied and officially open for business. The flagship tenants of The Black Box include:
The Cheese Shop of Portland - This specialty food store is owned and operated by Will and Mary Sissle, both veterans to the cheese industry, and seeks to elevate and inspire everyday meals by pairing exceptional foods with knowledgeable service.
North Optical - A curated handmade eyewear collection shop, owned by Christopher Wheaton, offers products from around the world.
Campfire Studios + Mulxiply - As a maker’s partnership, Campfire Studios is designed and run by Kristen and Joe Camp who create a collection of ceramic heirlooms designed to inspire the art of entertaining. Mulxiply (pronounced “multiply”) is owned by Tanja Cesh and houses a collection of modern, minimal accessories and gifts designed in Maine, inspired by the Himalayas, and made collaboratively by fair-wage artists and craftsmen in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Evangeline Linens - Owned by textile industry professional Ben Ray, Evangeline is a fine, heirloom-quality textile company and curator of fine art and vintage furniture.
All Those Who Wander - This specialty coffee shop is owned and operated by husband and wife duo John-Henry and Cynthia Mlyniec, and features seasonal single origin coffee, loose leaf tea, chai, pastries and more.
This is the first storefront venture for all five businesses.
“We were looking for a space to launch our first storefront in this area, and The Black Box project really fell into our laps at the right time,” said Will Sissle, co-owner of The Cheese Shop of Portland. “We’re receiving a lot of amazing feedback and interest from the community so far, and we hope to be here for a while.”
The Black Box leases are designed with flexibility in mind to accommodate tenants who want space to test a concept or provide street front retail space for their existing business without a long-term commitment. The five units share a common patio and a rear connecting unit with two bathrooms and tenant storage. Month-to-month leases are available and all leases include utilities and WiFi.
“I’ve been working in the design and textile industry for a long time, but this is the first time for me, and all of us here, to have a storefront,” said Ben Ray, owner of Evangeline Linens. “It’s a low commitment opportunity for me to test selling my product directly to consumers, while also meeting like-minded artists and makers in a built-in community.”
The single-story structure is located at 93 Washington Avenue and was built off-site using repurposed shipping containers by SnapSpace Solutions in Brewer, Maine. Each unit is approximately 300 square feet, offering move-in ready space with eight feet wide double-glass doors off the sidewalk. The concept was first conceived by Jed Harris of Cotton Street Holdings, the previous owner of the lot.
“This is a very exciting part of Portland that has experienced a lot of growth in the last few years, and we hope The Black Box helps promote more year-round foot traffic to Washington Avenue,” said Jake Edwards, Managing Partner at Dayton Group, who purchased the development from Harris prior to its completion. “The Black Box is here to support local, small businesses that are looking for space to grow, while also helping to showcase the efforts and success of the existing business owners on the street.”
A public grand opening event to introduce The Black Box and its tenants to the neighborhood will be held on Friday, November 2 from 4 p.m. - 7 p.m.
About The Black Box
The Black Box offers unique and flexible retail space in Portland, Maine's East End, in the heart of inner Washington Avenue. The single-story structure is built using repurposed shipping containers. Each of the five units is approximately 300 square feet, offering move-in ready space and 8’ wide double glass doors off the sidewalk. For more information, visit www.tbbwashington.com or follow the journey on Instagram or Facebook.