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Pop-up stores: re-thinking the retail space

Written by Klara Vida on 29/04/2015 12:39:00 PM 0 Comment
With a tendency to sprout overnight, attract the crowds and quickly pack up, the pop-up store has repackaged the traditional concept of a shop and the way consumers interact with brands.  

As we’ve seen a jump in temporary consumer spaces around the world and short-term leases filling up fast, we look at the concept of a pop-up store, and how vendors are using it to take their business to new places. 

New concepts, limited spending

Unless you eschew all retail spaces, chances are you’ve walked past a pop-up store in a street, a shopping centre or down a busy arcade.

First trending in cosmopolitan cities like New York and Tokyo, custom-built pop-up stores typically stock limited edition goods, hard-to-find concepts and new designers, alternatively repackaging goods and services already in the marketplace into something new. The pop-up market is attracting a full scope of retailers spanning multi-nationals to online companies presenting their goods in new and interactive ways.

A key plank of the pop-up is being temporary – lasting one day to three months, limited quantities are available creating pressure to spend quickly and making shoppers feel they are buying something exclusive. New pop-up locations are often released to exclusive email lists shortly before they open.

Magnum pop-up melts consumers

The Magnum pop-up store appeared in locations around the world including Paris, New York and Sydney’s Westfield where ice cream lovers could design their own Magnum with their choice of chocolate and three or four of 18 toppings. Served in a customised box at a reasonable price, the eight-week concept saw so much success around the world that it opened up the following spring for a further two consecutive years. The Magnum pop-up store was a hit which took an existing brand and re-released it to the market in a way which consumers loved – starting conversations, creating publicity and boosting sales.

Pop-up bars and eateries

The pop-up concept isn’t just limited to retail spaces – bars and eateries with food-loving patrons ordering the latest tapas or cocktail du jour are also filling the temporary space.

If you were one of the thousands of Adelaide locals who visited Little Miss Mexico in the trendy East End last year, you would have seen how a temporary space can pull in the crowds and pack down just as quickly as it opened – almost like a collapsible establishment. The Mexican-inspired tapas and wine bar specialising in shared delicacies, cocktails and imported beers, took a vacant site and turned it into a colourful and welcoming space. With the popularity of street-style food and events like the Adelaide Fringe Festival pulling in crowds and creating demand for new venues, the pop-up bar was a success with locals. Little Miss Mexico closed its doors last year, but the space quickly evolved into The Crab Shack, a Carribean-inspired venue with specialty drinks, and is likely to transform into another new concept in the near future.

A common feature of pop-up bars is themed spaces, artisan menus, and customised, imported drinks in the same line of limited edition goods and specially-designed concepts in their retail counterparts.

Pop-ups on a shoestring

While bigger brands like Magnum have the market share to open expensively fitted pop-ups, most can do it on a tighter budget. With minimalist and industrial-style looks trending around the consumer space, a high-end, polished fit-out isn’t essential, so retailers don’t need to pour big budgets into the setup.

Advertising alternative

With temporary consumer spaces filling quickly, the trend is skewing towards choosing pop-up stores in lieu of traditional advertising. A BRW article recently reported that Salvatore De Luca’s pop-up store in Sydney’s Strand Arcade came with a hefty price tag of $35,000 for two months’ rent, which represented the cost of traditional digital marketing or social media campaign. When placed in the right high-traffic areas and approached with strategic thinking outside the box, pop-up stores can create stronger results than traditional advertising and ascertain consumer response through an interactive experience. 

Pop-up stores are booming, but demand outstrips supply

While pop-up stores are trending, be prepared to face some competition when it comes to securing temporary space, especially where vacancies are limited. The same BRW article reported that while the concept is booming, landlords are prepared to hold out for long-term leases.

2,200 retail members with Bartercard

Bartercard works with more than 2,200 retailers to conserve cash flow and offset costs across a wide range of business expenses. Many Bartercard members also provide essential services to the retail sector such as interior fit-outs, shop fronts and furniture so you can get your pop-up store up and running without the price tag.

With no joining fee, no lock in contract and a 100% sales guarantee, now is a great time to join Bartercard. Visit for more information.

Have you been involved in setting up or running a pop-up store?  Share your experiences here by commenting on this blog! 

Topics: Re-thinking the retail space, retail

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