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3 Tips for Hosting Your First Pop-Up Shop

Growth and Operations

3 Tips for Hosting Your First Pop-Up Shop

Updated: Dec 26, 2019

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Now that your business is drumming up online and mobile sales, it’s time to test out physical retail locations. Diving head-first into launching brick-and-mortar stores, however, requires a hefty financial investment. Instead, it’s a good idea to test the waters first. This is especially true during periods of heightened global uncertainty, with the economy subject to the whims of trade tensions between the U.S. and China. 

Starting a pop-up shop could be just the right solution. Knowing how to run a pop-up shop boasts many benefits: 

  • Pop up shops are nimble and can be set up and dismantled quickly. 
  • They command only a short-term commitment with the potential for long-term profits. 
  • If a spot isn’t working, you can readjust and relocate or test multiple locations at one time.  

The benefits of brick-and-mortar

You’re not crazy for wanting a physical location. Maybe the plan is to expand into a full-fledged brick-and-mortar. Or, perhaps, you just want to create an avenue to meet and greet customers and bolster the profile of your brand. Interestingly,  according to Shopify, e-commerce is responsible for a small slice – 11% – of U.S. retail sales. So by engaging with more people by starting a pop-up shop, you could capture more of those otherwise elusive sales. 

Even the e-commerce giant Amazon is doing it. The company announced in recent months its plans to launch nearly a dozen Clicks and Mortar pop up shops throughout the UK. The idea? “To help up-and-coming online brands grow their high street presence.” 

Even if you don’t know the first thing about how to run a pop-up shop, don’t worry. There are some strategic steps you can take to bring you closer to your dream. Here are some tips for hosting your first pop up shop. 

Why start a pop-up shop?

Before we get into how to run a successful pop-up shop, let’s establish what it is. Pop up shops are akin to a store within a store. They’re more elaborate than just a kiosk but less involved than opening a physical location of your own. They are temporary retail spots inside other established venues launched by business owners like yourself. Also, they could be open anywhere from 10 days to 30 days or longer. 

Pop up stores have really come into their own over the last couple of years. As a business owner, you can craft your pop up store to meet your needs. But there are some ways to make the opportunity work for you. Below are some tips for how to host a pop-up shop. 

1. Timing is everything when running a pop-up shop

Consider the timing of when to start your pop up shop. If you’re only going to keep it open for a couple of weeks, why not make the most of the time and do so during a holiday stretch, when consumers are spending more money anyway? Christmas is clearly the most high profile time when businesses like yours are looking for their share of the holiday sales. 

If there’s no holiday right around the corner, find another high-profile event such as a sporting game or concert. When there is more foot traffic in the area, there’s a higher chance that those footsteps will make their way toward your temporary store. 

2. Location, location, location

When you are starting a pop-up shop, where you choose is just as important as what you sell. There is no cookie-cutter design for a pop-up store – you and your host location decide. 

Let’s say you currently run your business on Etsy, and you want to showcase your brand in a big box retailer. There are marketplaces whose very job it is to match business owners like you with potential pop up store locations. For instance, the Lion’esque Group in New York or UK-based Popertee.  

Or you could do your own research and think outside of the box. Here are some creative suggestions for how to run a successful pop-up shop:

  • If a local business isn’t optimizing its square footage, that could be an opportunity for hosting a pop-up shop. For instance, say a business has had an empty storefront for months. Inquire with the business owner or realtor about accessing the space for a short-term gig. 
  • Art galleries or concert venues are outside of the retail box and are designed to attract many people to their events. By nature, you get the added charm of the excitement that typically surrounds these events and establishments that are generally already aesthetically pleasing to the public. 
  • Don’t forget local businesses or even your local mall. Here, you can capture sales from consumers who are already there to shop. 

Use the location you choose to host a pop-up shop as a barometer to gauge how potential customers will respond to your product or service in this area. Also, considering the omnichannel nature of your business now (online, physical location, etc.), you might want to explore cross-honoring coupons across these various platforms. Doing so could further incentivize customers to buy your merchandise. 

3. When you run a pop-up shop, time is money 

While hosting a pop-up shop might not be as capital intensive as launching your own physical store, it will still require an investment for expenses such as overhead, marketing, etc. The costs can vary wildly, depending on features. These include how long you plan to keep your pop up shop open and where you plan to do it. Research suggests it can cost anywhere from $1,500 on the low-end to $33,000 for a 30-day gig

You’ll want to create a budget for both your finances and your time. But, keep in mind the allocations could change over the life of your pop up. Let’s say things go well. If your item is flying off the shelves, you might need to hire more help – temporary or otherwise – and this would lead to higher expenses. 

If your expenses fall on the higher end of the scale while running a pop-up shop, you should consider taking out a small business loan. If you qualify, it could save you from having to ask friends or family to help finance your dreams.  

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