Should You Open a Pop-Up Shop?

Are you looking for a way to spark excitement around your retail store, test a new product line or reach out to a new market without making a huge financial commitment? The answer just could be to open a pop-up shop.

Should I Open A Pop-Up Shop?

Pop-up shops have transitioned from being a recession-inspired solution to now a trend in the modern retail landscape. Born out of necessity during economic downturns, these short-term retail spaces were initially used to occupy vacant storefronts.

But their charm has only grown, and even top-tier retailers are jumping on the bandwagon, establishing their own pop-ups or even featuring them within existing stores.

What makes them so compelling? Their temporary nature. There’s an urgency that accompanies a pop-up shop, akin to a limited-time offer or a quick sale.

open a pop up shop

Customers are enticed with a sense of exclusivity and the thrill of “here today, gone tomorrow.” While the classic model is to set up shop in available retail spaces, the boundaries are being pushed.

According to Forbes, there’s been a notable emergence of pop-ups near gas stations, supermarkets, and home and garden centers in the U.K.

However, the possibilities don’t stop there. You can find pop-ups inside art galleries, office complexes, or even spacious lofts. Ultimately, it boils down to understanding where your audience is and what kind of environment would resonate with them.

As you consider diving into the pop-up world, reflect on your brand, your objectives, and the unique experiences you wish to offer. While pop-ups can be an excellent strategy for many, it’s essential to ensure it aligns with your brand’s ethos and goals.

open a pop up shop

A pop-up shop can be a great way to:

  • Test the waters in a new market before committing to a longer retail lease.
  • Sell excess inventory or past-season products.
  • Create an “experience” that you can’t replicate in your retail store, such as hosting musical events or putting on an art show. One big reason that customers visit pop-up shops is because they offer more than just products for sale.
  • Attract attention to a new product line or other change at your store. For example, a clothing retailer considering adding men’s fashions could use a pop-up shop to highlight men’s clothing and see how well the products sell.

How Can You Make Your Pop-up Shop a Success?

  • Choose your location carefully. Based on what you hope to achieve (see above), look for a location that attracts attention, gets a good amount of customer traffic and fits your needs. Of course, you also want the space to be near complementary businesses that will attract your target customer base.
  • Promote your pop up. Creating buzz is key to attracting people to your pop-up shop. In addition to spreading the news through all the usual avenues — email marketing, social media or even direct mail — be sure to do public relations to let the local media know about your shop.
  • Have fun with it. A pop-up shop is an event as much as it is a retail location. Create a sense of fun and excitement — this is no time to lie low. You want people passing by to be aware that something special is going on, so pull out all the stops to attract attention with music, decor and more.

open a pop up shop

Traditional Retail vs. Pop-Up Shop

To further inform your decision on whether a pop-up shop is right for your business, let’s examine the key differences and benefits between a traditional retail store and a pop-up shop:

Feature/BenefitTraditional RetailPop-Up Shop
DurationLong-term lease (usually years)Temporary (days to months)
Financial CommitmentHigh (long-term lease, infrastructure, etc.)Relatively low
FlexibilityLimited flexibility in terms of location/designHigh flexibility in location, design, and setup
PurposeGeneral retail sales and servicesSpecial events, testing products, clearing inventory
Target AudienceEstablished clientele basePotential to reach new or niche markets
Location DiversityPredominantly fixed locationsVariety including near gas stations, art galleries, etc.
Marketing BuzzConsistent branding and messagingEvent-based promotions and limited-time offers
RiskHigher due to long-term commitmentsLower, due to temporary nature and smaller investment
Customer ExperienceTraditional shopping experienceUnique, event-like experiences
Success MetricsLong-term sales, customer loyaltyImmediate feedback, sales during event, brand exposure

This table highlights the distinct advantages and considerations of both retail formats. Using this information, you can weigh the pros and cons tailored to your business objectives and decide if a pop-up shop is a fitting strategy for you

While pop-up shops are often associated with fashion and youth, the concept can really work for any type of business. The key is to know what you want to get from your shop, define your target audience and figure out where to find them.


adidas Pop-Up Store Photo via Shutterstock

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Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.

2 Reactions
  1. I couldn’t agree more. Working for a shipping container pop-up shop company, i’d say that there is no limit to what you can do with a pop-up store. Great read, thanks!

  2. I think that it is great for introducing your brand or introducing your products. It always has a limited edition feel to it so I like it.

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