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June 19, 2018

Pop-up 'Play Kiosk' deployed in Congress Square Park

Courtesy / Gamage Shipyard
Courtesy / Gamage Shipyard
A view of the 16-by-8-foot OpBox, built by the Gamage Shipyard in South Bristol, that Portland Container Co. has installed as a "Play Kiosk" in Portland's Congress Square Park.

Entrepreneurs Ben Davis and Emily Davis, sibling owners of the Portland Container Co. in South Portland, have deployed a "Play Kiosk" in Portland's Congress Square Park.

Friends of Congress Square Park, the nonprofit that supports the park, says the temporary pop-up installed in partnership with Portland Container Co. will offer board games and other recreational items for free public use in the park.

"In less than five years, Congress Square Park has transformed from a largely vacant space into a lively, thriving gathering place for arts, work and recreation," the nonprofit stated in a news release announcing the Play Kiosk's deployment in the park, which is scheduled to host more than 22 events and activities offered by more than 435 local artists, teachers and organizations this season.

Ben Davis, a Nobleboro native, is the founder of the yacht management company True Course Yachting Inc., founded in Yarmouth, whose concierge services include everything from boat delivery to making sure that when sailors are ready to launch, their boats are too.

He opened with his sister the storage business last year, converting an old 80-foot-tall, 110-foot-diameter cylindrical oil tank on Lincoln Street in South Portland into a storage container, to offer local storage and moving services, the Portland Press Herald reported late last year.

"We're in the container business. This is just a big container — the ultimate container," Davis told the newspaper.

The Davises also began to lease branded, portable 16-by-8-foot storage units in 2017, entering the Portland market as a local, service-oriented alternative to portable on demand storage, or PODs, and other home storage competitors.

The Forecaster reported the twin goals of the Play Kiosk project, in partnership with Friends of Congress Square Park and the Westin Portland Harborview Hotel, are to highlight new uses for storage containers and to create a platform for businesses to deploy items like board games, art supplies and workout equipment in a communal space.

The Davises created what they call the OpBox (for "open for opportunity), a portable storage container that can be customized for use as a retail popup, cafe or, in this case, Play Kiosk.

"With the city of Portland undergoing a building boom, every available square inch represents an opportunity," Ben Davis said in a news release. "It's inspiring when our partners bring their own vision to OpBox."

The Davises said the Congress Square OpBox illustrates how the customized units can be adopted by retailers, restaurants, breweries, galleries and others for a wide range of uses.

"We're offering flexible, affordable and highly visible spaces for brands and community partners," said Emily Davis. "That usually comes at a premium in Portland, particularly during the summer. We're trying to level the playing field."

An opening for the Play Kiosk was held Sunday. Hosted during "Flea Bites," a bite-sized food truck festival organized by Portland Flea-for-All, attendees enjoyed live music, local food to purchase and free dessert and drinks. The Play Kiosk was open for game and activity rentals during the event.

Supplies in the Play Kiosk are offered with support from the Westin Portland Harborview Hotel, a key sponsor and partner for Friends of Congress Square Park.

"Flexible design in parks and other public places are vital. They serve the need to connect neighbors, showcase creativity in new ways and bring joy," said Dela Murphy, executive director for Friends of Congress Square Park. "The Play Kiosk in the Square will be a colorful invitation for folks of all backgrounds and ages to gather for casual, outside and likely serendipitous fun. We'll have over 30 games to start, as well as art supplies and some workout equipment."

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