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The Deal with Pop up shops - the traders speak!

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by Startacus Admin

Last week we explored the philosophy of the pop up shop. The mindset, the reasoning, the political clambering for involvement, and the success of pop up shops themselves.

We highlighted the Pop up Britain shop in Richmond, Surrey, and to get a flavour of their thoughts, we contacted a few of the residents, to get their views on the experience itself. And boy can some of these startups talk - so much so that we have had to split the feedback up!

So part 1...

Startacus loves to give credit where credit is due, so was rightly impressed when 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. The three had shared a space during the same 2 week period , so it makes their opinions very relevant.

Do you think pop up shops are a good or bad idea and why?

Alexia: PopUps can be a great way to get in front of your customers without having to pay the usual whopping retail rental price.Bikini Fling
Krisi: Yeah definitely, none of us were in a position to get onto the high street alone so being able to get involved in a PopUp helped us achieve a high street presence without having the huge overheads. It gave us a chance to see how customers reacted to our products in a shop space rather than just online.
Alyssa: Especially as it's so difficult to make a website easy to find on the internet. We found that consumers are keen to buy new products they can't find anywhere else whilst also supporting British businesses so the PopUp shop was great for that.
Krisi: Exactly, because you share the shop with a variety of small businesses and the tenants change so often the public know they can get independent, unique and special products from PopUp shops.
Alexia: But it really depends on the location, which ultimately is key to the experience.
Krisi: Yes the location is really important. It’s ok being in a busy place but if the footfall doesn’t go past your front door and it isn’t inviting you won’t get people in. We also found a few people were very nervous about coming into the space if they didn’t already know what it was. You have to remember that most PopUp spaces are utilising previously vacant properties and they are so for a reason!
Alyssa:On the positive, I lost count of the number of customers who said what a great idea PopUp Britain is.
Krisi: Yeah definitely, after we had explained the concept to them and as it becomes well known I think people will be more comfortable visiting PopUp shops .

Bluebird TeaWhat have you learnt from/taken away from your pop up experience?

Alexia: It certainly keeps you on your toes as a retailer, as your environment is constantly changing - there is less opportunity to get too settled! We've learned loads about stock control, temporary marketing/pulling footfall, positioning and target market.
Alyssa: Marketing a shop on the high street is totally different to an online store. SEO and Google Adwords are no use and so you have to think about window displays, handing out flyers and even live events to bring people in.
Krisi: You definitely learn how to interact with customers face to face which can be essential to some small businesses wanting to grow beyond online. You have to get involved, be friendly and confident and create an interactive experience for the customer.
Alyssa: I also learnt that doing a pop-up with other small businesses really helps 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.
Krisi: You absolutely have to get your space looking and feeling inviting and exciting. Plan your space well and get creative in your ideas to attract customers.
Alexia: I’d say it is key to have a quick, simple, stylish stall setup that best represents the brand.
Alyssa: Being in the shop also made me appreciate the fact that I can serve a national, even international, audience on my website whilst the shop only serves the local area.

What do you plan to do now post pop up?

Alexia: Back to the online grindstone for all of us.
Alyssa: Yes I plan to grow and expand our collection.
Krisi: We are looking for a way to get a more permanent presence in the London area to set up our first tea bar, be that a longer period in a PopUp shop space or negotiating a lease on a temporary space as there are so many vacant properties at the moment.
pop up shop richmondAlexia: We are approaching stockists consistently as well. It's a numbers game - it's about getting in front of as many customers and retailers as possible, building brand momentum and getting the name known via happy customers, including more/continuous press coverage and product placement.
Alyssa: I'd love to do another pop up in the future. Although online is convenient for a lot of people, customers still love to hold and look at products in the flesh and being able to talk to customers in person is a bonus too.

Phew, some top notch answers there, and some good feedback to give, not only to Popup Britain, but other potential pop up shop traders and ‘creatives’ alike. We’ll be revisiting this feature next week, with more feedback and thoughts from some of the other Richmond Pop-up residents.

We thank Krisi, Alexa and Alyssa for their time, and please do check out their company specs below to see if you can help them directly on their startup journeys...

Company Specs:
Bluebird Tea Co set up by partners Krisi Smith and Mike Turner, create their own blends of funky loose leaf tea. From ‘Monkey Chops’ the banana tea, to ‘Birthday Cake’ with real cake sprinkles there is something fun and delicious for everyone. They also use their teas to create fresh, healthy and yummy tea based drinks from iced teas, tea smoothies, tea lattes and even tea cocktails!

Bikini Fling set up by Alexia Pinchbeck is an online bikini boutique selling beautiful bikinis, made in Europe out of fantastically high quality fabric. Mix and match styles, sizes and colours to tailor the perfect bikini for your body.

Peach Blossom, set up by Alyssa offers pretty and stylish party products to add fun and style to your special occasion. Peach Blossom has an amazing range of pretty and stylish party products and peach blossomalternative party accessories like stripy straws, colourful paper bags and photo props. Each product has been carefully selected so that they not only complement the existing collection but are high quality. Alyssa is always sourcing new products to keep her range fresh and different. Hugely popular with wedding and party planners, Peach Blossom has been featured in Brides, Homes and Antiques and the Mail on Sunday.

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Published on: 12th September 2012

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