With Amazon being the latest retailer planning dozens of pop-ups across U.S. shopping malls over the next year, if you’ve not already done so, now is the time to take a serious look at this growing phenomenon.

Small and large merchants are embracing the pop-up trend, both online and physical retailers alike, with the pop-up shop industry valued at $50 billion (including food trucks and flea markets) according to Pop-up Republic.

Shopify describes a “pop-up shop” as a shortterm, temporary retail event that is “here today, gone tomorrow”. Pop-up retail is the temporary use of physical space to create a long term, lasting impression with potential customers. A pop-up shop allows you to communicate your brand’s promise to your customers through the use of a unique and engaging physical environment while creating an immersive shopping experience.

harborfest_adodsonstentharborfest_livelovepaperRetail Alliance and LOVEVA have trialed our own pop-up at Festevents’ HarborFest this year. We rented a large tent, sectioning it into four booths we gave to LOVEVA business members. LOVEVA, A.Dodson’s, The Store for Stores, Live Love Paper, Care-A-Lot Pet Supply, The Creative Wedge and Westside Produce and Provisions all set up “shop” for either a day or two days, promoting their business and selling merchandise, with some aiming to provide a shopping experience similar to what their stores offered.

We’re sure they’d love to share their experience. Contact us if you’d like to be put in touch with them to chat about how they did it, what they learned, and what they would change next time.

Infographic: 8 Reasons to Do a Pop Up Shop (PDF)

Types of Location for Pop-Ups
1. A Store-Within-a-Store

This is an ideal situation for someone just starting their journey in retail. Not only does it come with the potential of built-in foot-traffic, loyal clientele, and the ability to acquaint your target demographic with your brand, but it also helps the store owner offset their biggest expense, rent.

Start by doing some research and finding stores that best compliment your brand and also overlap when it comes to lifestyle messages, target demographics, and also happen to be situated where you’d like your own boutique store to be one day.

2. Gallery or Event Space

Galleries and event spaces are a fantastic pop-up shop venue because of their open concept floors and minimalistic set-up. They can be very inviting and carry an elegance that is great for brands in women’s fashion, jewelry, or other high-end apparel.

A great way to get started is to take a look at upcoming events and seeing if there are any booths available. Make sure to ask past participants about their experience and how you can get the most out of doing a pop-up there.

3. Shopping Center or Mall

For many consumer brands, the mall symbolizes the holy grail of retail with its massive amounts of foot-traffic and exposure. It’s also a stamp of credibility and allows you to interact with the everyday consumer in hopes of becoming a household brand that they turn to again and again. But, how exactly are you going to “pop-up” in a mall?

Generally, you’ll have two options. You can go with renting a kiosk or booth space that allows you to set up shop right in the middle of the action. Or you can look at vacant in-line stores that the shopping center may reserve just for pop ups or has had a hard time renting out for a long time period.

4. Vacant Street Level Retail Space

Though perhaps a distant reality for many smaller ecommerce store owners, having a street level retail space is certainly a possibility. In essence, a vacant commercial property that may typically be used for pop up stores or the commercial real-estate agent is having trouble selling and will settle for more short-term engagements are ideal for starting with.

For the true sense of the word “pop-up shop,” the last option of vacant street level space is usually the most popular.

Where to Look for Pop-Up Spaces?

Some of the traditional and digital tactics you can employ in your hunt include:

  • Ask around and find out how other store owners found their space
  • Find referrals for trustworthy real-estate agents (we happen to have a few as RA members!)
  • Walk around ideal destinations and contact property owners directly
  • Look in the classified section of your print newspaper
  • Look at online classified sites like Craigslist.

But perhaps the most easiest way to find space is through the pop-up space marketplaces like:

  • The Storefront
  • Republic Spaces.

Although looking at both these sites, presently nothing is listed for Hampton Roads. If you’re interested in hosting a pop-up in your store or would like to have a pop-up, contact one of the Retail Alliance team and we’ll get the word out.

What to Look for in a Pop-Up Location?

Now when it comes to scouting a possible location for your pop-up shop, there are two main categories of things you’ll want to keep in mind, the exterior and the interior.

Here are some questions you’ll want to keep on hand.

  • What is the potential target market foot-traffic in the area?
  • Who are the other notable retailers and consumables in the area and are they complementary?
  • Are there events or community gatherings taking place in the vicinity?
  • Is the retail space in a nondescript building with a small entrance sign, or does the building have a grand entrance with a large logo?
  • What’s the cleanliness level like?
  • Is there parking nearby?
  • Is the location accessible by public transit?
  • Is there a large window that you can dress up for a display?
  • Is there back stock space?
  • What does the lighting communicate? Can lights be dimmed or alternative lamps and lighting brought in?
  • Is there a camera to prevent theft and shrinkage? If not, what other loss-prevention tactics can be made available?
  • Is there Wi-Fi to carry out credit card transactions with your POS solution? Can it be made available to customers?
  • Is there a sink and a washroom?

There are a few more considerations and steps to take before you’re up and running such as rental and insurance costs, ability to modify space, etc, but we hope these tips will be a good start.