Launching a Business With a Pop-Up Store

| November 25, 2019 | Starting A Business

Starting any new business can be a risk. In some cases, it may be a good idea to try out your business or product idea on a smaller scale before investing in a full-sized brick-and-mortar store. That’s why more entrepreneurs today are turning to pop-up stores (also called pop-up shops) as a way to test the waters and see what it takes to make a retail project succeed.

What qualifies a store as a pop-up, and how can you market these businesses? Read on for more details on this growing trend and determine whether it’s right for you.

The Evolution of the Pop-Up

Pop-ups first began to appear as the merchandise table at concerts and conferences. They were temporary stores for the events being held, and they often helped to turn events into more profitable endeavors. Shopping malls exercised a version of this with their seasonal stores that sold from kiosks.

Today, pop-ups are everywhere. Larger department stores are making room for smaller brands to hold temporary tables where they can make sales and process their own orders. Parks, sidewalks and corners of parking lots are also accommodating these smaller, short-term retail locations that sell everything from perfumes to food.

How Pop-Ups Could Be Beneficial

Market response is a useful tool in figuring out how to position yourself in the market. A pop-up allows brands to test their wares in select markets, seeing what works — and what doesn’t — before they invest too much in the wrong demographic or with the wrong product. It’s easier to pivot with messaging or offerings when you have a small pop-up. If everything looks good to go, you can scale slowly, avoiding many of the snags smaller companies run into when trying to become full-sized retails stores in one jump.

Unique Challenges to Consider

For all of the perks that pop-up shops bring, there are a few aspects to consider before starting one. First, they require different marketing strategies than larger stores because you’ll have a smaller promotional budget and less time to get the word out. Incorporate social media/mobile marketing, user-generated content and customer testimonials to help spread the word about what you offer. Food trucks could offer an inspiring look at what it takes to build a brand as a nomadic retailer.

Second, there are different legal and administrative considerations for these businesses than traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Hiring for pop-ups can be a challenge, as the store hours and length of the contract may not appeal to everyone. Deciding whether to hire your workers as employees or independent contractors could be dictated by your local labor laws. Permitting and taxation could prove nuanced compared to more straight-forward, year-round retailers that stay in one location.

The Future of Pop-Up Stores

Could these small retailers be the next big thing? Seasonal pop-ups are becoming especially popular, with Halloween and Christmas-themed stores, bars, restaurants and even tattoo shops getting into the spirit with one-day opportunities to buy their goods and/or services. Even mega-retailer eBay has gotten into the game with occasional pop-ups at global events. However, you don’t have to be a big brand to get the word out. Pop-ups are for anyone who wants to make a big splash with a small space.

Linsey Knerl
Linsey Knerl
Linsey Knerl is a Midwest-based author, public speaker and member of the ASJA. She has a passion for helping consumers and small business owners do more with their resources via the newest tech solutions and through awareness of industry regulatory changes and tax law.

See all posts by Linsey Knerl
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