The Pop-Up Shop is certainly no longer a novelty – they’re everywhere, literally popping up all over the world and doing their thing, which is brief, intense retail therapy that comes and goes like a spring thaw. In fact, the pop-up shop concept has gotten so mainstream even Big Box Retail like Target has gotten into the game. It’s time for a bold prediction: Pop-Up Retail is going to become the dominant form of retail in the near future. Say goodbye to Big Boxes, flagships, and other permanent locations – sooner rather than later you’ll be buying your shoes in a store that won’t be there next week.
Pop-Up retail has plenty of advantages over traditional long-term retail space:
But the most important advantage of the Pop-Up store lays in its game-like nature: The Pop-Up turns shopping into what most people already treat it as: A sport. A bloody, competitive sport.
Consider the old-school version of the Pop-Up: The Sample Sale. For years savvy shoppers have used extensive networks of backstabbers and spies to alert them to cool sample sales the second they go live, and then it’s off to the races, using planes, trains, and automobiles to get there before everyone else. Who hasn’t stood in an endless line outside an old warehouse in a dodgy part of town, burning with jealousy at the lucky folks who emerge first, laden with bags, smiling like movie stars.
The Pop-Up Store recreates that excitement on a regular basis. Alert services have already sprung up that promise to give shoppers the competitive advantage of first alert when new Pop-Ups appear, and because of the limited nature of the Pop-Up store itself, stock is always severely limited. Getting there first and aggressively hunting down the bargains is perfect for the shopper who thrives on “winning” at the shopping game!
Pop-Up Retail also have obvious advantages for retailers. Costs can be controlled much more closely, because they don’t have to invest in long-term leases that create a fixed cost no matter how the storefront performs. They can test new products and designs in real time, on the street. They can dispense with full-time staff and keep their sales team lean. And most importantly, they can generate excitement and buzz any time they like with a cool launch and a little theatre.
And as Pop-Up Retail grows, permanent storefronts will shrink. While major designers and brands will likely still want to maintain flagship stores in locations like New York or London as a point of pride and a symbol of success, Pop-Ups are losing the “guerilla” image they once had and are increasingly being embraced even by glamorous brands. This is because the excitement and drama of the Pop-Up store far outweighs the “gritty” nature of throwing together a quick store with minimal décor and rough edges.
The Pop-Up Shop is here to stay. Do you have your playbook ready?
Vari is an online writer who has recently taken over the Glitterstore blog (an ecommerce store in the UK) and specializes in fashion and lifestyle articles. Her topics vary in content and style from how to apply the latest Manic Panic hair dye to the history of cosmetics and anything in between.