You start to notice them around the first of October. Former furniture, electronics, or pet supply stores that now sport bright orange signs featuring a spooky ghost. By the end of the month those signs are gone, and 30 days later they’re replaced with red and green ones displaying a jolly elf.
Seasonal staples like these are actually a callback to the first pop-ups stores, which can be traced all the way back to the Vienna December Market of 1298. Today, pop-ups have extended beyond seasonality. Reports vary as to the exact genesis for the modern pop-up shop. Some thoughts place the origin with Comme des Garçons, a Japanese fashion line, and a temporary store it opened in Berlin in 2004. Others believe the trend may have originated in the early 2000s when Vacant, an L.A.-based apparel company, began to operate stores that moved sites every few weeks.
Regardless, pop-up shops have quickly become a staple of the modern retail environment. What was once exclusive to the largest metropolitan areas –New York, Tokyo, London, etc. – is now a common fixture in every area where there are groups with purchasing power.
Pop-up stores are exciting – and their temporary nature is exactly what drives sales. Consumers cannot afford hesitation. If they see something they want, they better buy it. It’s not just that the product might not be there when they go back – the entire shop could be gone forever.
How to Find the Perfect Pop-Up Location
There are many elements to consider when searching for a site for your pop up.
When you find an area you like, snoop around a little to check out its general cleanliness. Lots of litter blowing around could send the wrong message to your potential visitors. Next, do some research and discover the average volume of foot traffic and its peak hours. Also, make sure you know how people are going to find you. Is there plenty of available parking and/or easy access by mass transit?
The next thing you should consider is how the surrounding retailers will complement or clash with your brand and products. Either option is fine, as long as you understand and embrace the potential possibilities. Also, get a feel for the surrounding community. Is there an area nearby where people gather, (park, theater, etc.) and how can you take advantage of these assemblies?
A pop up can be located anywhere (that’s what makes them so fun).
That being said, and to get your creative juices flowing, here are some of the more popular places.
Vacant Retail Space:
There once was a time when landlords were hesitant to loan space out on short-term leases. Those times are long gone. Today, property holders would much rather generate revenue when they can, however they can. Savvy searchers can usually get a decent deal on a prime location by simply doing a little homework first.
Pedestrian Areas in Malls:
If you’ve been to a mall lately, you’ve likely noticed an abundance of kiosks lining the walkways. Malls are taking a hit and, as a result, landlords are willing to offer deals on prime space. However, if you go this route, you have to find a way to stand out from the typical mall tchotchke dealer.
Galleries routinely rent out space for shows and events. If your brand fits with the general vibe of the space, they may be amendable to showcasing your pop-up shop. This type of space tends to work well with higher-end products like jewelry and fashion. Of course, there are some funkier galleries out there that fit with more eclectic offerings.
This is the latest trend, establishing a pop up inside an already existing store. This benefits the existing retailer by helping the owner offset their rent and delivers a fun value-add to their shoppers. You benefit from the existing clientele and general foot traffic. You may need to do some selling to convince the storeowner that there is mutual benefit in adding your shop. This relationship works best with complimentary brands where the target demographics overlap.
This could literally be anywhere, such as a park, vacant lot, beach, under a bridge, etc. You are only limited by your imagination. The benefits of an open-air setting is that you are not beholden to any existing space to establish your brand. However, you will need to find a structure to contain your pop up. Fortunately, there are some low-cost solutions that can even add to the whimsy of your shop.
One example is the AirClad mobile architectural structure. AirClad portable structures are designed to be set up in different environments, including uneven surfaces like sand. The contemporary design of these structures looks great and is so unique that eyes are drawn to these buildings.
In addition, the front and back entrances feature clear Plexiglas panels and doors, so shoppers can easily check out what’s happening.
The AirClad line provides a variety of configurations that can be sized up and down to fit your exact requirements. In general, the structures are modular, so they can be mixed and matched as needed.
- XPO: The XPO single story model is available in two sizes of approximately 20’ and 33’ wide. Extend the depth in increments of 8’ as far as the eye can see, simply by adding on additional AirCells.
- XPODH: Looking for an open feel? Need more height? Double it with the XPODH. Like the XPO, the depth of the XPODH can be extended, simply by attaching additional AirCells.
- xDek: Expand space upward with the xDek. This sturdy steel and aluminum freestanding deck was designed so an XPO can fit below it. The xDek provides an upscale, open air space.
- Yum Yum: the Yum Yum is an 8×8-foot pod that is designed for selling food and merchandise through a hinge-up serving window.
There are no limits to your options with AirClad. Since flooring panels lock in place to help ensure the structures stand solid, there’s plenty of space under the floor to customize your electric grid. Which means you can include an optional climate control system or even go so far as setting up a fully functional restaurant. And the structures can be fully branded – inside and out.
Don’t forget that you’re going to have some paperwork to take care of.
Make sure that you have all the necessary permits required for your specific business – this goes double if you’re serving food or alcohol. Also, as a shot-term occupant, you’ll likely need to sign a license that allows you to access the property for your shop. Or, depending how long you wish to run your pop up, you may need to sign a lease.
Make sure you have copies of all the necessary paperwork on hand. Any mistakes could cause your store to be closed sooner than you intended, which will be a hassle in both time and money.
Whether you’re strictly an online shop or you have an established brick-and-mortar presence, there are several benefits to establishing a pop-up plan.
Scarcity encourages action.
In fact, creating this “get it while it lasts” urgency and excitement is the main reason most people establish a pop-up shop. That’s the whole appeal: there is a limited time for consumers to grab these exclusive, limited edition, one time only deals. By telling visitors that there is a limited window for them to connect with your brand and purchase these wares, you are providing instant purchase motivation.
Maximize your financial resources.
Setting up a pop-up is extremely cost effective. In addition, the profits earned are significantly more for a pop-up ($1,230.00 per square foot) compared to a permanent retail location ($341.00 per square foot).
Let people know who you are and what you’re about.
No matter how well you’ve saturated your market and promoted your brand, there are always going to be geographic areas where you remain a mystery. A pop-up is a cost-effective way to enter those areas of low permeation. The more you can delight new customers, the more likely they will be to seek you out (in person or online) and continue to buy your wares once your pop up is gone.
Unload that old stock.
No matter how well you plan, there is always some product that, for whatever reason, just won’t fly off the shelves (sometimes it won’t even crawl off the shelves). Instead of being stuck with that merchandise, a pop-up shop can let you offer this finite stock as a limited time, low-cost bargain. The very nature of a pop up can help formerly stagnate products move fast.
Dip your toes into a new market.
Because it is so cost effective to run a pop-up shop, they are ideal for experimentation. If you are uncertain about the promise of a new product, why not give it a test run in a pop up? This is also a great way to gather customer feedback about how to improve the product. Or do you want to generate some fun, pre-launch buzz? A pop up is an ideal solution. It’s a great solution for gauging consumer reaction to new launches – and you can rake in a significant profit, as well.
Get out there and meet and greet your customers.
This is mainly intended for shops that are online only. Once you gather enough data on how your ideal customer is and their preferences, you can head into the areas and locations where that customers in most likely to frequent and surprise them with a pop-up shop. It’s an extremely fun way to bring your online personality to life in an ideal setting.
Promote holiday and seasonal merchandise sales.
As mentioned earlier, the first popups were themed around holidays, and there’s no reason to break with that rich tradition. Don’t get tripped up on the traditional holidays. There are already a bunch of winter-themed stores around. Why not do a Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day pop up? Or get even crazier. Who wouldn’t love an Arbor Day pop up? Only a real curmudgeon, that’s who. Maybe you could find a holiday and make it your own. It’s a great way to add some personality to your bands and make some moolah to boot.
If You Build It, They Will Come
A pop up is a great way to promote the creativity of your brand. Whether you want to come across as quirky and humorous or professional and elegant, you can accomplish it with a pop up.
For help establishing some creative pop up ideas or to learn more about AirClad, reach out to The Trade Group at 800-343-2005. We can turn your wildest ideas into a functioning pop up shop.