Boxquare, a three-story container building located near Sinchon Train Station, opened its doors on Aug. 31. Construction started last December, and now the complex is ready to invite street vendors and startups. Boxquare first started to support street vendors in front of Ewha, which was announced by the mayor, Mun Seok-jin on Dec. 15, 2017. Even though these vendors were popular among students, problems regarding dangerous LPG gas and hygiene have always caused concern. To resolve these matters, Seoul Seodaemun District Office announced the construction of a container building into which vendors could move.
“ We a r e g o i n g t o r e l o c a t e the remaining vendors after consultation, just as the previous street vendors have become independent businesspeople through the conclusion of their contracts and business registrations,” said Lee Hye-ra, the officer of Seodaemun District in charge of Boxquare.
Along with the street vendors, the district office has also decided to support young entrepreneurs with startup ideas. The first floor has been designated to be filled with the previously existing street vendors for easier accessibility, and the second and third floors have been reserved to provide business space for the youth. The office recruited youth partners for Boxquare, and, after several screenings, 16 teams were selected including enterprises such as food vendors, a general merchandise store, and a craft beer pub. Food products deemed similar to those of the vendors were excluded from selection.
“We wanted to select young entrepreneurs who wouldn’t end up in simple sales. The new and various ideas of youths and the completeness of their business plans were our standards,” Lee said. “Furthermore, we wanted to provide opportunities for youths who have had experiences of failing or being frustrated several times.” The selected young entrepreneurs and startups were provided with mentoring sessions and startup education throughout August. Marketing using online and offline methods was also supported. The biggest merit of Boxquare is the evidently low expense of rent, which costs about 100,000 won per month.
“ B o x q u a r e i s a m u t u a l l y developing place for street vendors and youth entrepreneurs. By lowering the cost, we wanted to support and resolve these youth start-ups’ and street vendors’ problems,” Lee told Ewha Voice. Boxquare has opened only the second floor for now and is planning to gradually open the rest one by one. The office also aims to make Boxquare a new cultural space for students as the third floor will be a rooftop where visitors can enjoy craft beer and performances.
“ We w a n t t o m a k e a n e w business model in which youths and street vendors can co-exist. By landmarking Boxquare, we are aiming to revive the commercial sphere near Ewha, just as Sinchon street was revived through the reorganizing the Yonsei-ro Street,” Lee said. “Feel free to visit and enjoy Boxquare, where anyone is welcomed.”