How Your Small Business Can Cash In on the Pop-up Store Movement

imagesNot long ago I went to a food truck gathering and as I was weaving my way in and out of the monster trucks sampling their delights, I stumbled on a vendor “that wasn’t like the others.”  It was a vintage clothing store on wheels.  The store is able to locate all around town and take advantage of special events, foot traffic trends, and hold down its overhead. It’s part of the pop-up store revolution. Well, I don’t know if it’s a revolution yet, but some of them are sure fighting hard to make an impact on retail.

Another variation of this would be a seasonal store that opens in a temporarily vacant space. We often see this during the holiday season. Also, I’ve seen some that use smaller vehicles—vans really—from which they pull out display racks and cases so they can set up on the sidewalk.

The concept of pop-up stores has the potential to be the highly-coveted “win-win-win.” Let me explain.

Low startup costs
First, as you see from the examples I’ve cited here, folks who don’t have the resources to start a brick and mortar store can put their inventory on wheels and locate their retail business in the ideal location virtually every day of the year. The overhead is low and moving around will help you create brand awareness all around town; especially helpful if step number two is opening a permanent, fixed-location store.

And hey, if you have some nomad blood coursing through your veins, you can travel the country and take your livelihood with you wherever you go.

It’s also a win for landlords. If you’re dealing with a vacancy, consider offering a short term lease to a pop-up store. There are few things as bad as an empty space. One empty storefront in a shopping area puts a damper on everyone’s sales. That not only makes it difficult to find a new tenant, it also increases the likelihood that other stores will leave the area.

A pop-up store will create buzz, bring more foot traffic to the area and who knows, if the pop-up does well, you may have found your next long-term tenant.

Create some synergy
The third “win” that I see with pop-up stores relates to the point I just made. Are you a traditional retailer? How about scheduling a pop-up store to set up in your area from time to time. It’s an easy way to attract customers to your location that might not otherwise come by.

Traditional retailers might also consider expanding their business by adding a pop-up store. It can deliver flexibility that could be an advantage compared to opening a second fixed location.

I always get very excited by business ideas that have a very low barrier to entry. Pop-up stores often have this attribute, although some can be very elaborate and costly. (Check out these high-end pop-up stores.) In any case, take the pulse on the pop-up store scene in your area. You might find a place where you fit in.

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