pop-up #2, cincinnati!
After so much support at our first stop in Chicago, we were excited to see what Cincinnati had in store. It was the first time either of us had been to the city and it didn't disappoint! We're grateful for the continued support for our mission, and touched by those who contributed to our donation at Cincinnati Children's Hospital.
Trading Stories for Cookies at Trader Joe's
After a particularly long day in Cincinnati, it was cold and we were hungry. Trader Joe's never disappoints so we made our way to the nearest one, grabbed their sample of the day, and walked towards the prepared foods section. Munching on our sample of a dark-chocolate-covered star cookie, we scanned the options. Salads seemed to be the responsible choice (the lack of vegetables in our diet was concerning) but it was cold enough to snow outside and the soup was calling our name. Harvest Chili, Hearty Minestrone, Chicken Noodle?! The Airstream didn't have a huge power supply but we had to make it work. Overly aware it was fifteen minutes before closing time we scanned the store quickly for a microwave and spotted one next to the samples. The TJ's sampling employee was putting away the leftover star cookies as we approached.
"Excuse me, we're on the road and don't have access to a microwave, but would love a warm soup. Would you mind microwaving these for us?" She was extremely friendly, and as each soup took four minutes to microwave we had plenty of time for conversation. "So where are you traveling to?" she asked. After Jake gave her the 60 second elevator speech about our tour, she asked so many follow-up questions, we barely noticed the timer go off on the microwave. She handed us our soups, we thanked her and began to walk away when we heard, "wait a minute! Take these." She held up a box of dark-chocolate-covered star cookies. :)
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Knocked Our Socks Off!
We were greeted with the warmest of welcomes during our donation at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. The staff in Development gave us a tour of the hospital and shared just a few of the reasons they're ranked #3 in the nation for best children's hospitals. One of the highlights was their Seacrest Studio: an internal broadcasting studio where patients can request songs, act as a guest DJ, or be on a game show. They also discussed renovations for their Ronald McDonald House-which after completion will be the largest in the world! We were super impressed with all they offered patients to make their stay more comfortable, including the hospitality of the staff. A few members of their team made the trip to visit us at Kenwood! We're thankful we could contribute to all their community has to offer.
We were excited to collaborate with nearby media channels and got in touch with Connect Cincinnati run by the Cincinnati Bell. They visited Kenwood Towne Centre and featured us on their Facebook and Instagram during a live streaming event. (Check out the video here if you missed it!)
Another fun visit came from a familiar face. During our pop-up in Chicago at Water Tower Place, a woman stopped by and asked about our future tour stops. It turned out she's from Cincinnati and was thrilled to hear it on the list! Our second weekend at Kenwood she stopped by our pop-up, looping back to buy more socks for people she'd thought of. It was fun to reconnect in a different city!
We had several people approach the Airstream expecting us to be a food truck. We felt bad telling these hungry visitors we actually sell socks, but thankfully most people were less upset by the lack of food and were touched by the mission. One man was particularly skeptical. When he discovered we didn't sell food, he asked several questions about the company. He departed saying he'd stop by on his way out of the mall. He returned a few hours later and directly asked, "Are you guys legit?" He'd looked up our website and couldn't believe what we were doing was true. He bought socks promising he'd find out if we were a scam, casually shouting "You guys sock!" as he drove by. We're taking it as a pun for "you guys rock" and not "you guys suck."
Bringing the Heat
Our pop-up store included almost everything we'd envisioned, but one problem was becoming increasingly challenging: the temperature was dropping! They wouldn't be easy to transport but we agreed we definitely needed space heaters. We found ones in stainless steel (to match the Airstream, of course!) and put them to use our final weekend in Cincinnati. They were the final, cozy touch we needed to complete our pop-up!
The only drawback to these new additions was the amount of space they required. By the time we left Cincinnati, we had significantly more loot than we started with. We picked an 8-foot table, the two enormous space heaters, 8 boxes of sock inventory, a few chalkboards and several baskets for display. The truck had been full to the brim before we got here, so this posed a problem for our drive to our next stop in Boston. We'd have to pack the Airstream to have a chance at fitting all our gear, which meant we couldn't sleep in it.
The solution was extreme, but we had few choices: we decided to fill the Airstream and make the 14 hour drive from Cincinnati to Boston overnight!
As we piled everything we'd need to transport to Boston, we weren't overly hopeful it would all make it there. We mentally noted the items at the bottom of the totem pole which would be the first to go if we ran out of space. Miraculously (and after some serious tetris-style packing) we were able to fit every last box! Once the truck was finally hitched and all boxes were packed, it was 7:30PM and we were starving. We grabbed dinner at Whole Foods, but had specific snacks in mind for our road trip that required another Trader Joes stop. By 8:45PM we pulled out of the TJ's parking lot with dark chocolate-covered almonds, dark chocolate-covered espresso beans, and (of course) dried figs. Despite a winter storm warning at 2AM on the drive, lack of an available coffee source until 5AM, and multiple encounters with irritated toll road employees, we made it to Massachusetts in one piece. We arrived equal parts exhausted and accomplished at Natick Mall the following day at 3PM, excited for our next stop!