It’s amazing that it has taken us this long! With all the championing we do for pop-up shops, pop-up festivals, pop-up bars and pop-up everything else, how we managed to miss out on such an obvious feature as ‘How to Start a Pop-up shop’ is a complete mystery!
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the concept, a pop-up shop is a temporary retail outlet which is set up in a disused location (usually a retail space) and trades for a predetermined length of time, usually a number of months. It is a business model that is rapidly growing in popularity as intrepid self-starters seek out disused spaces on the high street and transform them into fully operational stores. It’s a great way of taking advantage of selling seasonal products such as Christmas decorations or Halloween costumes without committing to a permanent business. It can also be a great way of testing out a business idea to see if it is economically viable, however they are far from an easy option - before you begin you will need to consider the following...
Market Research As with any business, before you begin to put your idea for a pop-up shop into action, it is of the utmost importance that you undertake comprehensive market research in order to establish if it is likely to be a success. Some of the things you should keep in mind are…
The most obvious question is, what are you going to sell? Will your goods be handmade or will you be ordering them in? Do you know where you can get them from?
Will your pop-up shop specialise in one type of item or will you have a more general line?
Are there any other shops/sellers which might wish to be incorporated into your store?
Where will you be able to open your pop-up shop? Do you have a particular location in mind?
The majority of your customers will arise from passing trade, does the location you have selected have sufficient footfall to provide you with sufficient customers? You may wish to visit the location on different times and days in order to accurately gauge how busy your pop-up shop is likely to be.
What is the best time of year for your pop-up shop to open? If you have the luxury of being able to take advantage of seasonality are you definitely making the most of it?
How long are you going to operate your pop-up shop for?
If the shop does well do you have plans to make it a more permanent feature?
Do you have any experience of working in retail/customer service?
A pop-up shop can be a great way getting a taste of what it would be like to run your own business, what experience do you have that will help you along the way?
Who will your main competitors be? Remember that the novelty of the pop-up shop won't necessarily convince customers to part with their hard earned cash, you must be able to offer them something that your competitors cannot.
Is there definitely a market for what you plan to sell in your area? If there is no one else selling similar products is there a reason for this.
Do people in the area know what a pop-up shop is? If not how do you plan to spread the word?
Are there any schemes or funds in your area which aim to assist startups in your area?
Planning and Development Do not let yourself be complacent because your pop-up shop is a temporary fixture. It will face the same problems and challenges as any permanent business so being well prepared is vital. Yes pop up shops can be alot of fun but at the end of the day you still want to make sure that your's is a success and hopefully makes some money. To this end, some of the things that you need to start thinking about are...
Have you written a business plan? It might not seem necessary for a pop-up shop, but it will be a priceless tool in ensuring that your store is a success.
Will you be going it alone or will you be teaming up with another person/business?
Have you decided where you would like to locate your pop-up shop? Does the premises fit your requirements and will there be any necessary renovations? Remember that as your store is only temporary you certainly don’t want to undertake any major/expensive renovation work.
What about your shop front? Pop-up shops rely heavily on passing trade, how will you be able to entice customers in from the street? Will you be able to have on street signage/displays?
Now is the time to solidify your theme or “brand”, are there any creative ways in which you could do this? Do you have a catchy name for the shop?
Temporary shops often struggle to make themselves stand out against the highly polished and meticulously considered appearance of permanent stores. What kind of look do you want your store to have and how will you achieve this on budget?
What equipment will you need for the pop-up shop? Display units/till/lighting/music etc. Where can you get these things and how much will they cost? Many pop-up shops use second hand furniture which has been cheaply up-cycled, do you know anyone who has experience of this?
Do you plan to work full time in the store? Will you need to hire anyone else to help you and if so how much will this cost? How will you go about recruiting the help that you need?
Start thinking about how you will market your pop-up shop. Luckily the arrival of a pop-up shop is likely to generate some welcome intrigue in your area so how do you plan to make the most of this?