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Pop-up retail, also known as pop-up store (pop-up shop in the UK, Australia and Ireland) or flash retailing, is a trend of opening short-term sales spaces that last for days to weeks before closing down, often to catch onto a fad or timely event.
The trend of pop-up retail started in Los Angeles and now pop up all over the United States, Canada, China, Japan, Mexico, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Australia. The pop-up industry is now estimated to be a $50 billion industry. Pop-up retail has been an increasing factor during the retail apocalypse of the 2010s, including seasonal Halloween retailer Spirit Halloween, who has operated stores in vacant spaces during the season.
Temporary retail establishments date at least to the Vienna December market in 1298 and the European Christmas markets that followed. Seasonal farmer's markets, holiday fireworks stands, Halloween costume shops, consumer expos, and event-specific concessions are other examples of temporary retailing.
The Ritual Expo was one of the first iterations of the modern pop-up retail store. Not yet referred to as pop-up retail, the 1997 Los Angeles event was created by Patrick Courrielche and was later branded as a one-day "ultimate hipster mall.” The event quickly caught the eye of large brands that saw the potential of creating short-term experiences to promote their products to target audiences. AT&T, Levi-Strauss, and Motorola worked with Courrielche to create pop-up shopping experiences across the country to market their products to young audiences.
In November 2002, discount retailer Target took over a 220-foot-long boat at Chelsea Piers for a two-week stay on the Hudson River that coincided with Black Friday. Vacant, a Los Angeles, California based business specializing in pop-ups, arrived in New York in February 2003, working with Dr. Martens on a pop-up space at 43 Mercer Street.
Song Airlines opened a pop-up shop in New York City in 2003. Comme des Garçons opened, for one year, a pop-up shop in 2004 with the 'Guerrilla Shop' tag. Trendwatching.com claims to have coined the term "Pop-Up Retail" in January 2004. In November 2013, Samsung opened a pop-up shop in New York City's Soho area that worked as a brand experience space. The temporary pop-up space was extended and eventually became a permanent retail space. In July 2015 Fourth Element opened the world's first underwater pop-up shop at a depth of 6 metres / 19 feet at TEKCamp.2015 in Somerset, England.
The trend is also widespread in the UK, where landlords have used the trend to fill vacant space.
An alternative to active short-term retail is display of art in otherwise vacant storefronts. This prevents them from being an eyesore and encourages pedestrian traffic to neighboring businesses. The town of Arlington, Massachusetts started charging landlords a vacancy fee in 2016, which is waived if art is displayed.
A pop-up retail space is a venue that is temporary: the space could be a sample sale one day and host a private cocktail party the next evening. The trend involves "popping up" one day, then disappearing anywhere from one day to several weeks later. These shops, while small and temporary, are used by companies to build interest in their product or service, and seed their product with cultural influencers. Pop-up retail allows a company to create a unique environment that engages their customers and generates a feeling of relevance and interactivity. They are often used by marketers for seasonal items such as Halloween costumes and decorations, Christmas gifts and Christmas trees, or fireworks. The pop-up retail model has also been used on the concert scene, as at the Treefort Music Fest, to provide all-ages or family friendly venues, often at restaurants or vacated retail establishments which do not routinely host musical acts; these ephemeral establishments are known as pop-up venues.
There are various benefits to pop-ups such as marketing, testing products, locations, or markets, and as a low-cost way to start a business. Some pop-up shops, such as Ricky's and other Halloween stores, are seasonal, allowing brands to capture foot traffic without committing to a long-term lease. Other brands use pop-ups to create engagement, such as Marc Jacobs Tweet Shop's exchange of "social currency" for free product, and King and McGaw who used a pop-up to exhibit and sell prints from the Mourlot Studios in Soho, London.
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Ricky's Costume Superstore in New York City was ready for Halloween
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The Haute Spot is a so-called pop-up concept, meaning that the store is not permanent. The location will be open Nov. 28 through Dec. 26.
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