Should You Open a Pop-Up Store?

Author: A. Wren Date: December 19, 2011

Starting a Small BusinessThe Great Recession affected small business owners in a lot of negative ways, but it also left them with a new potential weapon in their retail arsenal: pop-up stores.

Pop-up stores, retail spaces that fill vacant real estate on a short-term lease, gained popularity in the recession’s wake, as landlords sought to fill unoccupied space and business owners looked for ways to get cheap square-footage.

Typically reserved for seasonal fare such as Christmas decorations, Halloween costumes, dads-and-grads gear and Fourth of July fireworks, pop-up stores have become a great way for more traditional retail businesses to test a new product or market over a short amount of time—and with lower overhead than a long-term lease would bring.

Here are three questions to ask yourself as you consider whether to open up a pop-up store.

Do I want to test a new line of products?

One of the key advantages to opening a temporary retail location is that it gives you the chance to test new offerings, says William Shambeck, president of Cursor Realty Corp., in Winter Park, Fla. “It gives the business owner the opportunity to test their concept without having to commit to a multi-year term,” Shambeck says.

RELATED: 5 Tips for Testing a New Business Idea

Do I want to test a new location?

If you’re thinking about adding an additional location, opening up a pop-up store there first might be a great way to test the new market, Shambeck says.

Kelly Gedinsky, associate director with Winnick Realty Group LLC, in New York City, agrees. Gedinsky has worked with brands such as QVC’s Fashion Week and companies such as Spirit Halloween and ToyZam! to set up pop-up stores in the city. “It’s a way for the lessee to test a market without totally investing themselves into the lease,” Gedinsky says.

RELATED: 6 Tips for Picking the Right Company Location

Could I benefit from the increased exposure of a short-term lease in a high-traffic area?

For some companies, opening a pop-up store isn’t merely a matter of saving money, but gaining some exposure in a high-traffic location. Denise Maple, owner of VaVaVroom, a fashion company aimed at women motorcyclists and scooterists, helped launch a pop-up store with other fashion designers on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, the city’s vaunted shopping area, to do just that. The store opened on Nov. 15 and will close on Dec. 31. Having a holiday pop-up shop capitalized on the shopping season.

“It’s great exposure,” says Maple. “I have a better chance of getting my product viewed.”

RELATED: 3 Ways to Generate More Walk-in Traffic to Your Business

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