But like any good bunch of ‘sellers’ they were quite happy to chat! Krisi Smith from Bluebird Tea Co replied with a full blown interview transcript that herself, Alexia Pinchbeck from Bikini Fling and Alyssa from Peach Blossom had drafted up, in reply to our questions.
Therefore this week we decided to continue the ‘traders talk’ theme, with some more mini interviews that some of the Pop up Britain traders gave to Startacus to help promote their startups and also highlight some of the advantages and challenges that faced them as first time high street retailers.
Emma Hughes, Director of Bertie & Jack was involved in the first intake of retailers at the StartUp Britain PopUp shop in Richmond:
"The PopUp proved a great way to get our range of cut-out artwork in front of a brand new audience; enabling us to gauge reaction to our product as well as trialing a new location.
For independent retailers, shop leases can be daunting and expensive - PopUps give an opportunity that might not otherwise be there. They also bring a lease of life to High Streets, bringing footfall to neighboring businesses.
One PopUp warning - when sharing space with other retailers, make sure that the products compliment each other and sit together in a congruent manner. An 'eclectic mix' can lead to shopper confusion - even PopUps need a target market."
Bertie & Jack plans to popup left right and centre - we're currently in PopUps in Bristol and Cheltenham."
"Earlier this month with the buzz of the Olympics and the prospects of sunny weather, ElephantBranded was fortunate enough to be selected as one of the first startup businesses to be part of Start Up Britain's Popup shop! A fantastic idea designed to rejuvenate Britain's high streets and help promote new businesses like ourselves who would previously not have had the chance to rent a main high street shop. So on an early summer morning we pitched up to the shop in Richmond which would become our home for the next two weeks along with four other businesses.
Two fantastic weeks followed allowing us to gain exposure on the high street and the experience to sell in a proper shop conditions to the general public. We learnt some great lessons not only from the general public on what they were looking for but also from our fellow popup shop businesses. For ourselves at ElephantBranded the key is the story, our One Elephant... One idea message, for every bag we sell we donate a school kit back to a child in Africa or Asia. Making the message simple and clear to anyone who walked in was key as well as having a product which stands out with bright colors. Our aim was to win someone over as soon as they walked past the window.
For anyone considering applying for the popup shop I would recommend it 100% as it is a great opportunity to get yourself and your brand out there on to the high street, a opportunity many start ups would only dream of!"
Alyssa, of Peach Blossom, who contributed to last week’s interview, also gave this personal insight into her two week pop up shop experience:
Pop-up shops give small businesses the opportunity to get their products in front of potential customers especially when it is often difficult to make a website easy to find in the vast expanse of the internet. Pop-ups are a great way to reinvigorate the high street as consumers are keen to support independent British business. I took part in StartUp Britain's PopUp shop for 2 weeks in August and saw for myself that consumers are keen to buy new products they can't find anywhere else whilst also supporting British businesses. I lost count of the number of people who said what a great idea PopUp Britain is.
Pop-ups are beneficial to so many people from the small business occupying the space, to the consumer looking for exciting new products, to the landlord who is paid rent. Hopefully pop-up shops will become more accessible to small business owners, by relaxing tight regulation and offering short term leases.
Having only ever had an online store, being part of the Richmond pop-up shop was quite a big learning experience as there were so many different factors to account for. For example, marketing a bricks and mortar shop is totally different to an online shop - SEO and Google Adwords are no use and so you have to think about window displays, flyering and maybe even live events to bring people in. Saying this though, social media is still a great way to get the word out there that your shop exists.
If you plan on taking part in a Popup shop I'd definitely recommend doing it with other small businesses as pulling together a shop for such a short space of time is a lot of work. Doing it with others, you share the risk and the workload. But make sure you choose like-minded businesses with a style which compliments (not mimics!) your own range of products, you don't want to be competing with someone you're sharing the space with. I was really lucky in that the other businesses I shared the shop with for 2 weeks all had great products and consistent branding so the shop offered variety without looking like a jumble sale.
Being in the Richmond pop-up made me appreciate the fact that I can serve a national, even international, audience from my website whilst the shop only serves the local area. But I would definitely like to do a pop-up shop again in the future as I gained so much from the whole experience, I met so many great people, learnt so much and was made to look at my business from a new perspective.