Storefront Contest

Got a new business you're looking to get off the ground? We're granting six months of free rent to a retail or experiential concept at our newest renovation, 2616 Cherokee.

South Side Spaces is granting six months of free rent to a small business with no commitment beyond the initial six-month term at our latest renovation, 2616 Cherokee. The storefront is being renovated to historic standards with modern amenities and will offer a plug-and-play floor plan with no build-out required.

Eligible businesses may be retail or experiential, new or existing, although preference will be given to those branching out to their first brick-and-mortar location. We’re hoping to tip the scales in favor of making an impossible, unlikely, or experimental concept, possible. We’re looking for creatives, risk-takers, bootstrappers, pot-stirrers, entrepreneurs, and scrappy DIYers, to light up 900 square feet of Cherokee and make their mark. Do you have a good idea for a business that doesn’t already exist on the street? Great. Something that doesn’t exist in St. Louis – even better! Bad ideas are welcome, too.

The contest application will open on February 21st and close on March 31st, 2023. Our team, with input and guidance from the Cherokee Street Community Improvement District’s Business Development Committee, will then review the submissions and select the finalists.

The finalists will be announced to the public in early April; each finalist will then give a brief pitch at the Cherokee Street CID meeting on April 20th, with fellow business owners and neighbors in attendance at that meeting ultimately voting to select the winner. Construction is scheduled to be wrapped up in June 2023. The winner should be prepared to begin their lease within two weeks of project completion, and we’ll be in touch with more specifics as the move-in date nears.

Note: In accordance with our compliance with the Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program, permissible tenant alterations are limited, and the space is not suitable for use as a bar, restaurant, cafe, food/beverage service, salon, barbershop, beauty studio, or any other use that would require modification of the existing plumbing plan. See the contest application for additional details. 

More About 2616 Cherokee

Cherokee Street is an eclectic commercial corridor that spans the neighborhoods of Gravois Park, Benton Park West, Marine Villa, and Benton Park. 2616 Cherokee is located on the first block west of Jefferson, offering high visibility and commutability in one of the densest neighborhoods in the City of St. Louis – Gravois Park. Within this block alone are a variety of shops and restaurants including SoJeff Retro, Mesa Home, Your Friend’s Apartment, November Baby, Apotheosis Comics, Nebula, Saint Louis Hop Shop, Brandin Vaughn Collection, and Teatopia. Walk another few feet to the next block east or west and find more, such as The Fortune Teller Bar, Clements Lock & Security, Bridge Bread Bakery, Elaine’s Sandwiches, Profield Reserve, Ruby Francis, The Whiskey Ring, Infinite Spin Records, and Swade Dispensary, to name a few. Cherokee is also home to a killer food scene, an extensive collection of street art, and more than 30 black-owned businesses.

The Cherokee Street business district is one of the few places in the city where the barriers to entry are low enough that experimental new businesses can thrive. We’re committed to fostering an environment that is conducive to unique, locally-owned, independent businesses, and one that resists uses that are predatory (payday loan, rent-to-own furniture, etc.), ubiquitous (chain stores), or boring (office-based businesses in storefronts and residential storefront conversions).

This project is a quintessential example of that commitment, as one rent-to-own establishment gives way to three new storefronts and six residential spaces. We look forward to seeing your ideas!

More About Cherokee

Meet our Finalists

We received an overwhelming response of over 75 applications – all of which were well-thought submissions for viable business ideas. The Cherokee Street CID’s Business Development Committee, alongside the South Side Spaces team, selected six finalists. Each finalist would bring something new and unique to Cherokee, and we look forward to hearing each of their pitches at the Cherokee CID meeting on April 20th!

Here are the finalists (listed clockwise, starting in the upper left):

Hawthorn Hat Co, by Michelle Senay
Dirty Blossom, by Ratissia “Tee” Johnson
Ethical Bodies, by Maura Hampton
Palette, by Brock Seals
Virtuoso Collective, by Julianne Wise & Jessie Mees
Jon Blanco, by Anthony White

Attend the Cherokee CID Meeting

Congratulations to Virtuoso Collective!

Each finalist gave a brief presentation at the neighborhood meeting on April 20th, and Cherokee’s business owners, property owners, residents, and employees cast their votes. We are so pleased to share that Virtuoso Collective was selected as the winner!

The brainchild of Cherokee artists Julianne Wise and Jessie Mees, Virtuoso makes its mark by creating the street’s first, permanent, retail-only art collective, by and for Cherokee Street artists. It’s a “permanent pop-up” showcasing approximately 30 Cherokee Street artists and builds on the success of events such as Print Bazaar and Second Saturdays. Virtuoso aims to enable artists to make their living from their art by removing the barriers to running a brick and mortar retail space: costs, time, and risk.

Stay tuned fore more information about their grand opening this summer!