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I launched instant retail in 2010. My personal background is in exhibition management, design and retail shop fittings and I started instant retail because I saw an opportunity to service the rise of pop-up shops and the business is still pretty unique – I’m certainly the only one who does this in Melbourne. At instant retail we are basically a hire service – people hire specialist retail fittings such as racks, tables, the counter – and get help with the logistics of moving in and out.
In 2012 we started popUPshops Melbourne – which has since expanded to popUPshops Australia – as a resource that people can go to for potential current locations, to find out what pop-ups are happening, what the global trends are… It includes a lot of free information as well as offering paid promotions for pop-ups and landlords with potential pop-ups. This business also functions as a consultancy for people planning a pop-up.
It’s hard work and often involves a lot of legwork and effort. Start by choosing your area first so that you can be near your demographic. Do you want to be on a shopping strip or in a shopping centre? Take a walk along a street you’re interested in and if there are any empty shops take note of the agent’s details and give them a ring. If there’s already a pop-up shop in the area go in and ask them how long they’ll be there for, you might be able to speak to the agent and come in after them. At a shopping centre they’ll sometimes book a space in advance, but it’s often a more expensive option. On my site we have a list of available spaces, too, which I try to keep up to date.
That depends what they’re selling. People often rent general fittings such as the racks, shelves, a counter and sometimes a till, then purchase smaller display items essential to their products such as hangers, price tags and signs. People also generally want Eftpos and I strongly recommend they go to their bank about that in good time as they can take several weeks to get the terminal to you.
There are a few brokers who specialise in pop-up insurance. You can Google those, and one advertises on my website. With pop-ups you should always have public liability. You might also choose to insure your own stock and contents, and sometimes the landlord will ask you to insure the glass shopfront.
Yes, we call that a collaborative pop-up and it is usually a group of like-minded people with complementary products. It can make the store more interesting and also means people can share the costs and the staffing, so it’s a great idea.
When I started about seven years ago I had to explain what a pop-up shop was, but nowadays everyone is familiar with the concept – it’s entered the lexicon. It seems there’s broader acceptance amongst real estate agents and landlords, and some shopping centres now keep spaces available for a rotating mix of pop-up retailers. Most large shopping centres have a department that used to be called causal leasing but over recent years they’ve rebranded themselves to include pop-up leasing.
The rise in online retail has definitely meant there are more businesses that occasionally want access to a bricks and mortar store. Pop-ups are also regularly used to move sale stock – for example we support many Australian fashion designers with their pop-up sales around Melbourne.
Social media is important and low cost. Create a Facebook event, Twitter feeds and send images out on Instagram once the store is open... You can usually advertise on the storefront and create an eye-catching window display. It’s also invaluable to go and speak with surrounding retailers – it will drum up interest and they’ll sometimes put up a flyer to promote the pop-up for you. It also prevents any suspicion or anxiety about the “new business” in the strip.
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