News & Trends

Putting the “pop” in pop-up shop

Posted by: Rick Turner Rick Turner
on March 19, 2018

Temporary real estate establishments date all the way back to the 1200s, when seasonal Christmas shops began to appear in medieval cities. But it’s only recently that retailers have truly begun to master the art of the pop-up shop.

Typically meant to fill a temporary lease while a landlord looks for a more permanent tenant, these shops, appearing for anywhere from a single day to a few months, have become increasingly common as retail continues to shift to an experienced-based space. Everyone from Target to “Gilmore Girls” has tried their hand at the pop-up shop, with great results.

With pop-ups competing against regular box retail and other pop-up stores, how can you make yours, well… pop? Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of this popular retail experience.

Have a strong theme

Pop-up shops tend to do well because they fill a specific need. Holiday shops are exclusively stocked with items for that holiday, during that holiday. Other themed stores, like retail stores themed around movie releases, or coffee shops centered on TV shows, have strong pop culture ties that bring in fans looking for a deep dive into their favorite media experience.

A strong theme can cultivate interest for your store beyond “another clothing store” in the same shopping center. Specialize in beachwear, or a certain color, or a particular type of shoe. If you can’t do this, try and make your design stand out with its theme—cover everything in polka dots, or graffiti, or even giant dog silhouettes to create a stand-out space.

This turns the pop-up, in its limited lifetime, into a quick but focused experience that customers are more likely to be curious about. They probably already have all the popular chains at their local mall—how is your cosmetics pop-up going to catch their eye to compete with Sephora, Blue Mercury, or Ulta?

Tie into center events

Another way to give your pop-up some extra attention is to tie it in with a shopping center’s programming. If the center frequently has events for kids, teens, or adults, look into what events may share a demographic with shoppers interested in your pop-up, and plan your timing accordingly.

Even if there’s nothing that links directly to your pop-up, offer to participate in the shopping center’s events. It ties your small pop-up into a larger presence, and could draw in customers who might not have originally been interested.

Go to the customer

You want to make sure that your product or service sells. The best way to do that is to have interested customers, and the best way to have interested customers is to open in an area where your product or service is in high demand.

For example, if you want to open a hiking pop-up store, the middle of a city, an hour away from the closest hiking venue is probably not your best bet. A more rural area or a city closer to the mountains may better fit your concept. Likewise, opening a Christmas pop-up in a predominately summer vacation town probably won’t yield you many customers.

Research what kind of customers frequent the space you’re looking into, study your neighbors, and find a location that matches what you’re trying to sell. This maximizes the chances of getting shoppers interested in your store, without even having to advertise to them.

Get the word out

With pop-ups’ short timespan, your timeframe for achieving success is lessened. Therefore, building buzz about your store is critical to attracting customers. If your stay is short and your center less populated, spreading the word beforehand may be a great way to drive interest. However, if you’re planning on staying for a few months, or the area naturally gets a lot of foot traffic, it might be better to warn customers when you’re close to closing, creating an air of urgency that drives customers to show up and buy their goods before it’s too late.

Either way, social media is a huge benefit to pop-up stores. It’s the best way to keep up in the fast-paced world of smartphones and social networks, so make sure you’re prepared with social accounts, Snapchat filters, and hashtags beforehand. Install WiFi in-store as well, and encourage your customers to spread the word themselves. Store signage is another method to advertise and appeal to those who are already loyal customers of the shopping center. Ask your contact at the center if there is any pre-designed signage you could add to your storefront for a cohesive look.

Put some pop in your pop-up

These are just a few ways that pop-ups can help make a splash at their local shopping center. Their short-term leases give them a boost of exclusivity that few stores can claim, but this needs to be properly prepped and maintained so that the store doesn’t go stale before its time is up.

Pop-ups don’t need a lot to stand out. With the right amount of preparation, some research, and strong themes, they can give shoppers a quick and exciting shopping experience. And in a world where experience and exclusivity mean a lot, pop-ups can be a welcome boost to any shopping center.

Interested in starting your own pop-up store? Apply to Kimco’s new program, Pop It Up Here!, and look through our searchable marketplace to find the site plan and location that are the best fit for your idea.

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