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Flash Retailing Flourishes


Blog Post

Pop-up stores might be temporary,
but the trend has staying power

Jenna Worrell 2019

Jenna Worrell
Director of Marketing

Who would have thought something called The Ritual Expo would eventually lead to a worldwide retail phenomenon estimated to be valued at $50 billion? Patrick Courrielche’s “ultimate hipster mall,” which was held in Los Angeles in 1997, is credited with starting the pop-up shop trend. His event, a diverse collection of innovative fashion, art and music, got the attention of major brands like AT&T, Levi Strauss and Motorola, who recognized the appeal of promoting products to a niche audience in a unique setting.

In fact, interpretations of this concept started many years earlier, with holiday markets, seasonal farmers markets, holiday fireworks stands and even those Spirit Halloween shops that set up temporarily in vacant stores every October.


Create demand, sell experience

When you get right down to it, flash retailing is all about FOMO: fear of missing out. A store “pops up” one day and then is gone — anywhere from 24 hours to a few weeks later. If you snooze, you could definitely lose the opportunity to be a part of an exclusive experience. Retailers use these small, temporary spaces in a number of ways, like:

  • introducing a new product
  • conducting test marketing
  • hosting a brand experience
  • selling limited release products

A pop-up store might give away free merchandise to create a buzz among social influencers.

Location, location, location

Pop-up retail creates a unique environment that stimulates engagement and interactivity with customers. Sometimes that takes place at an existing brick-and-mortar location (a store-within-a-store), in vacant retail space or as a standalone kiosk. We’re even starting to see pop-up shops built inside shipping containers or motorized vehicles, like a food truck. Mobility can definitely be an advantage if you’re planning several destinations for your retail experience or setting up at concert and festival venues.


Low commitment, moderate investment

With no long-term lease or rental agreement, flash retailing may appeal to some small businesses as a go-to market strategy or as a way to do business only when there’s buyer demand. This approach is also advantageous when a company’s product or service requires a hands-on explanation.

What’s still required though is advanced planning. Allow at least three months to create your store experience and get the word out. Consider non-traditional signage and creative displays to stand out from the ordinary. Tap into your social media network and work with brand advocates on promotion. Plan events during the pop-up store’s run that appeal to your target market.

Your ultimate goal, even beyond revenue, is generating visitor foot traffic. Capture their imagination — and contact information — and you stand a good chance of having brand-loyal customers down the road.


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