Dear PoPville – How Do I Open a Pop Up Store?

Photo by PoPville flickr user rockcreek

Dear PoPville,

Friends and I want to organize a pop up store where local vendors could sell their products (both crafts and edible products). I am having a hard time figuring out what permits would be needed from the DC government. I read their website and perused through the permit categories and I am super confused. I am thinking that I will definitely need permits because vendors will be selling packaged food and I envision them giving samples. Someone mentioned that I may not need permits if the the event is held at a restaurant or related facility that would already have a food permit. Any help to point me in the right direction would be appreciated.

7 Comment

  • I can’t imagine that you would not need some sort of permit or business licensing, even for a pop-up temporary shop. The District has strict standards, especially for operating a small-food-business operation (stricter than some other cities). I haven’t looked into opening up a pop-up here, so I’m not an expert in these matters. However, it sounds by your own admission that you find the process complicated (and I would believe so knowing how DC tends to write its policies on other matters) so perhaps you shouldn’t try to embark on something you don’t understand, not without, at least, consulting with an attorney.

    Good luck with your endeavors.

  • claire

    I know that in order to sell food, it has to have been prepared in a kitchen that has been inspected and awarded a permit. I believe (but could be wrong) that if someone new (a new “business”) is coming in to start cooking in a kitchen, they have to be present for a new inspection. See information with community kitchens such as:

    I bet you could also get some great information just by going to a currently open pop up (perhaps the ramen one in Columbia Heights?) and asking them!

  • If you don’t know, go find those who do. This sounds a lot like what “H St Bakes” is already doing. May be time to hit the Twitter machine.!/HStreetBakes Post again if you get it off the ground.

  • you might also want to check out the folks at DC Kool. i don’t think they’re doing food, but they may have some intel. good luck!

  • or the Pleasant Pops folks who are doing something similar on U St–PoP just posted about this earlier today.

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