The concept of “Pop-Up Stores” has a long history in the retail world. Years ago apparel retailers traveled to different cities displaying their merchandise in trunks.
After World War II, discount chain stores soon appeared as manufacturers set up pop-up stores to sell their excess merchandise.
Today, pop-up stores are popular holiday season destinations, particularly during Halloween and Christmas. These two retail concepts have been in the marketplace for about 15 years and in the parlance of the specialty leasing professionals, they have been referred to as temporary stores.
But as retailers continue to face challenging economic conditions, the pop-up store concept could be the perfect bridge which keeps commerce energized until long-term commitments are once again the norm.
Pop-up stores offer existing retailers a more attractive opportunity to expand their business, experiment with new locations and/or concepts. Pop-up stores offer the start-up entrepreneur a less expensive way to get up and running without the psychological road block of a traditional 5- or 10-year lease in the current economy.
“It’s Americans being creative,” says Kim Kunasek, CEO of Oei Design, an Arizona company that along with the Ridemakerz team, was the two-time winner of “Pop-Up Store of the Year,” 2009 at Downtown Disney Anaheim and 2010 at Downtown Disney Orlando.
The competition is sponsored by Chain Store Age magazine.
Oei Design has been designing stores for Build-A-Bear Workshop since its first store in 1995. In 2010 Oei designed a pop-up store for BAB at Freehold Raceway Mall in New Jersey. LittleMissMatched, an East Coast retailer that does not yet have a presence in Arizona, had Oei Design do a pop-up store at Water Tower in Chicago.
“Retailers everywhere that are weathering the tough economy as well as entrepreneurs that have a great new concept might be experiencing a kind of paralysis,” says Rizal Oei director of design. “Pop-up stores give them the opportunity to think outside the box to get their product to the marketplace quickly, without the long-term lease, and with design that is more cost effective and sustainable.”
The approach to designing a successful is pop-up store is different than the traditional process. As time is of is of the essence, having an experienced team in place is critical.
A specialty leasing expert can help to identify locations that a particular product, service, event or marketing campaign could be the most successful. The designer would make a thorough inventory of existing assets so as to resurface or reuse without compromising on the client’s brand.
The fixturing would be chosen not only for cost but for its ability to be taken down and reused at another location if the client chose to relocate.
California firm Image 4 has a wall system that can be considered a fixture yet built off site. This process can shorten the lead time and limit the number of permits to just the electrical. Design is crucial. The goal is to make a pop-up store look permanent. A pop-up store can go up in less than 60 days. If funding is required the time frame could be longer.
Pop-up stores also are used for marketing campaigns by national brands. Kellogg’s Pop Tart pop-up stores have generated revenue, making everyone look at their marketing budgets differently. Companies that are Web-based (no physical building in a mall or outlet) are using pop-ups to gain attention to their products. Even big-name retail chains are finding pop-ups vital to their sales. Those include Nike, Puma, and ToysRUs.
In an article in USA Today, John Challenger of outplacement consulting firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas, says he sees pop-ups as a reflection of our changing times. “Retailers,” he says, “are simply taking their best-selling merchandise and plunking it down in smaller stores. They’re shifting because it’s a new world, one with smarter shoppers’.”
“The pop-up store concept may be a result of the challenges in our economy,” Kunasek says, “but it could stay as a desired option even as the economy recovers.”
She says a recent trip to China to learn about design and retail industry opportunities and her observation of the effect the fast pace of developments in technology is having on the consumer in general, might make the pop-up store the desired option for many retailers.
For more information about pop-up stores or Oei Design, visit www.Oei-Design.com.