Pop-up stores are, well, popping up everywhere these days — from the uber-hip Warby Parker store in New York’s SoHo neighborhood to springtime flower shops that host local florists at West Elm. These shops are moving in (temporarily) to neighborhoods across the country. Even the NFL has gotten into the game, with a strategically placed shop located just a few blocks away from the 2012 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. These are just a few of the many recent pop-ups from brands big and small that we’ve noticed, but this trend is nothing new, and it’s certainly not slowing down anytime soon.
So what, exactly, are pop-ups all about, and is one right for you and your small business? The answer might surprise you.
A pop-up store is a retail location that does just that — springs up, exists for a short period of time, hopefully creates all sorts of buzz, and then disappears. Pop-ups of all shapes and sizes have been around for years (think: local Halloween stores that would sprout up in the fall). There are also businesses that specialize in the pop-up market, like Vacant, which according to their site, helps find real estate opportunities for pop-ups, as well as design, construct and staff the space once it’s secured. But the lagging economy can also take some credit for the surge in these temporary storefronts, as some landlords, stuck trying to fill now long-empty storefronts and lack of interested new tenants, have been more lenient with their leasing.
But what does a pop-up store have to do with you? If you’re a small business owner, a temporary storefront might be a smart option to consider. Think about…
Seasonal Timing: If your business relies heavily on a particular time of year to thrive (a makeup artist during prom and wedding season, for instance) you might want to consider capitalizing on that by opening up a seasonally timed pop-up.
Commitment: If you’ve ever wanted to own a storefront, or are hoping to expand to a brand-new neighborhood, but are wary of a long-term lease, a pop-up might be a great toe-in-the-water solution for both of those scenarios.
New Products: If you’re working on a new product, utilizing a pop-up can be an innovative way to try out your fresh ideas on potential customers.
New Market: Exposing your small business in the short-term to a new market might mean big returns in the long-run.
Buzz: A great way to drum up buzz might be by opening up a pop-up, where you’ll be guaranteed at least a bit of local interest.
Prime Technology: As this Inc. article mentions, the advent of mobile technology has made it easier than ever for businesses to temporarily set up shop. “Tablets have become a weapon of choice because they let you use mobile point-of-sale systems. No need for a traditional cash register if you’re willing to take only credit and debit cards,” it reads. “This is opportunistic marketing at its best.”
These are just a few reasons pop-ups might work for your small business. But keep in mind: There is almost always risk with a new business initiative, so be sure to do your due diligence before committing to even a short-term lease.
Image: Bleacher Report