Galentine’s pop-up offers shopping therapy ahead of Valentine’s Day

The Saturday Galentine Pop-Up and Preview Party is not so much a substitute for Valentine’s Day on Monday, but rather an opportunity for women to have fun while shopping.

With up to 30 vendors, a DJ, a photo booth and free drinks, the pop-up is an opportunity “for the girls to just celebrate the day with each other, just to hang out with your girls and have a good time and there’s no pressure,” said organizer Jen Harmel, founder of A People Party Productions.

Following:A People Party Productions opens a shareable workspace for creators, makers

The pop-up is from noon to 4 p.m. at the SoDA District Warehouse, 806 S. Second St.

Vendors will sell apparel, handcrafted leather goods and jewelry, beauty products, apothecary, ceramics, and homewares and accessories. Edibles will include chocolate covered candies.

The event also serves as a preview for new ventures coming to the space thanks to Harmel and Sydney Dillard, who previously operated The Green Machine food truck at The Green Room.

At the SoDA District Warehouse, 806 S. Second St., Jen Harmel, left, opens the Makers + Creators Marketplace.  Sydney Dillard has Gather in the works, a commercial kitchen for rent, a juice bar and indoor and outdoor meeting space.

Dillard opens Gather, a communal kitchen and juice bar. Food truck operators, caterers, bakers and chefs can rent space in the commercial kitchen and host events such as cooking classes and pop-up dinners.

Events will also be offered outdoors, where a stage is available.

“Food and music – I have such a passion for both,” Dillard said.

Harmel owns and operates the Makers + Creators studio workspace at People’s Plaza, 1290 South Willis St., Suite 200. She has been helping entrepreneurs launch, market and grow their brands since hosting her first pop-up in 2013.

While continuing to operate the studio’s workspace, Harmel sublet part of Gather to open up the Makers + Creators marketplace. She hopes to open the space in March for small traders and creators of handicrafts.

The Makers + Creators Marketplace “will have long-term collected vendors selling their wares year-round during regular business hours,” Harmel said.

Neighbor and florist Florence Posies will also attend Saturday’s pop-up event, Harmel said.

Reasons to Gather

Since moving to Abilene from the Dallas-Fort Worth area more than six years ago, Dillard has worked at several local restaurants in addition to operating the food truck.

She also helped develop the gelato flavors for Honey + Fig that until recently ran inside Florence Posies.

Dillard and some partners originally envisioned Gather to be a restaurant. For a variety of reasons, the concept leaned towards a commissary-style commercial kitchen and rental space.

A peony at Florence Posies, a floral design boutique in the SoDA District Warehouse, 806 S. Second St.

Gather can serve as a gateway for food truck operators looking for a licensed and inspected kitchen to prep, cook and store their food.

“What happens is the laws say, of course, you can do anything with that food truck, but guess what, you still have to meet fire hazard and ventilation standards,” Dillard said. .

“And so you’re spending the same amount of money as if you had brick and mortar as you would in that food truck, which was supposed to be the useful way for people to get into the restaurant business.”

Organizers of monthly dinners and nutrition classes have also approached her about renting the space for events.

“My contribution is that I make sure no one is working at the same time. I like to manage. I like kitchen management. I like kitchen design,” Dillard said.

She also plans to serve slow-process organic juices at Gather’s Bar as well as coffees, smoothies, superfood lattes and craft alcoholic beverages. The juices are made in a process that does not involve heat or the centrifugal speed of a blender.

“The way it’s extracted is a much calmer process, and so the benefits of that are you don’t lose any nutrition,” Dillard said.

Gather is a work in progress, with a target opening in May.

But experimentation with the juice is ongoing. Dillard will be cooking mixes at the Honey + Fig Kitchen for Saturday’s event.

“They will be sold by color,” Dillard said.

For example, the orange drink contains carrots, orange juice, pear and apple. The green variety mixes kale, celery, green apple and lemon.

Bring people together

By hosting pop-up events and helping makers and creators with social media campaigns, Harmel’s long-term goal is to open up a permanent market.

“Now we provide them with a market to sell their products. So that completes the equation for me. One of my slogans is make, create, market, sell,” Harmel said.

In the fall, two months before the birth of her third child, she learned of the availability of subletting at SoDA District Warehouse.

“The timing is weird, but because all the components are there, it sort of happens, and I wouldn’t say effortless, but to some degree, it comes together,” Harmel said.

Ahead of Saturday’s pop-up shopping event, Harmel is hosting a sold-out monthly women’s brunch at Florence + Posey with partners in photography, craft baked goods and beverages and other businesses.

This is an opportunity for attendees to network, take head shots, and learn about the upcoming market.

After Saturday’s event, the market will be reconfigured to accommodate 15 permanent vendors.

“We’re specifically looking for handcrafted products,” Harmel said. It offers long-term and monthly rentals.

Once the market opens, Harmel plans to collaborate with other businesses in the SoDA district “to help increase foot traffic in this part of downtown,” she said.

Laura Gutschke is a generalist journalist and food columnist and manages the online content of the Reporter-News. If you enjoy local news, you can support local journalists with a digital subscription to

If you are going to

What: Galentine Pop-Up and Preview Party

Or: SoDA District Warehouse, 806 S. Second St.

When: Noon to 4 p.m. Saturday

Cost: No admission fees.

Information: Click on the events tab on the website Or, follow on Instagram @apeoplepartyproductions.

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