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Pop-up shops

Dec 12, 2014

Pop up shops have been ‘popping up’ a lot recently, and a strategy widely used by both established companies and small start-ups. It’s a method that’s become popular due to its limited commitment which is ideal as a trial business model and has many flexible benefits.

What is a pop up business?

A pop-up shop is a business that temporarily occupies a vacant space/outlet for a short, limited period of time. Using this model means you don’t have to commit to large amounts of money on long term overheads (some people have even managed to wangle free usage of the outlets for a few days). With more and more high street spaces becoming vacant, temporary lets are becoming more commonly accepted in a bid to keep high streets looking attractive and to grow the local economy by allowing temporary businesses to operate and attract more businesses.

Pop up strategies have been used by large retailers as a branding exercise, for example; John Lewis opened a pop-up shop in Exeter before they opened up their new department store to drive awareness and PR about the new store. Tesco used this method to support the Goodwood Revival and set up a temporary store that replicated a Tesco store back in the 1960’s (complete with 60’s uniforms!). More and more examples can be found every day as small businesses find it a perfect solution for their small business shop and major brands can use it for marketing campaigns.

Small start-ups have also popped up around the nation with many boutique fashion retailers and food establishments appearing in London, Manchester and other areas across the nation.

Will a Pop up shop work for every business?

This business model isn’t restricted to retailers. Creative agencies, architects and art exhibitions have also tried using the pop up model, the government are even working on passing new planning systems to allow a range of commercial buildings to convert temporarily to a set of alternative uses.

Benefits of pop up shops mean you don’t have to commit to paying large property overheads for a long period of time. It can also drive customer footfall and sales with a “limited time only” message attached. The short term letting contracts means that you can be more creative in when, where and how your shop presence lies.

If you have an eCommerce shop that is growing, and you want to venture into a physical presence, a pop up shop can help you ‘test drive’ the idea and build awareness and marketing without you actually committing to the idea, giving you an opportunity to tweak the business if necessary and to create a more sustainable business model through trial and error.

What do I need to think about if I want to open a Pop Up Shop?

A Pop up shop will operate in the same way as any permanent business, so the considerations are the same, with the addition of a slightly different model as you’re limited to a shorter period of time, and the model will have to be adjusted to your purpose of the shop. Things to consider are:

·         Financials

·         Location & Premises.

·         Licenses

·         Staff

·         Pre-opening marketing/Awareness drive

·         Open day

·         Day-to-day operations

·         Strategy

·         Any promotional offers

·         Exit strategy

For more information on Pop Up businesses you can check out other communities such as Pop Up Britain which offer a number of spaces available specific for a pop up shop.



Karen Horne


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