Pop-up retail

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HBO Game of Thrones container pop-up in Los Angeles
The Beatles double-decker pop-up shop in New York City
Marmite pop-up shop in London

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 scheduled event.

The trend of pop-up retail started in Los Angeles and now can be found all over the United States, Canada,[1][2] China,[3] Japan,[4] Mexico,[5] France,[6] Germany,[7] the United Kingdom and Australia.[8] The pop-up industry is now estimated to be a $50 billion industry.[9] Pop-up retail has been an increasing factor during the retail apocalypse of the 2010s, including seasonal Halloween retailers who operate stores in vacant spaces during the season.


Temporary retail establishments date at least to the Vienna December market in 1298[10] 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.[11] 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.[12][13][14][15]

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.[16] 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.[17][18][19]

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.[20] 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.[21] 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.[22]

Other brands that have developed pop-up shops as part of their campaigns include Kate Spade, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Colette.

Pop-up Retail began extending into other genres around 2009, when the Pop-up restaurant - temporary restaurants popping up in various locations - began growing in public interest and frequency.[23] Just as car manufacturers are using the concept for the presentation and sale of new models. Suppliers of classic cars also offer vehicles in Classic Cars Pop-Up Stores.[24]

The trend is also widespread in the UK, where landlords have used the trend to fill vacant space.[15]

Newbury Street in Boston has recently become a hotbed for pop-up retail, hosting temporary storefronts for Martellus Bennett, Cotton, Kanye West and other local brands.[25]

Art displays[edit]

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.[26]


The pop-up model is also used by artists. Here a building under renovation serves as a one-evening art exhibit in Boise, Idaho.

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.[1] 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.[27]

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.[28] Other brands use pop-ups to create engagement, such as Marc Jacobs Tweet Shop's exchange of "social currency" for free product,[29] and King and McGaw who used a pop-up to exhibit and sell prints from the Mourlot Studios in Soho, London.[30]

This concept has also spread into other countries such as Australia. For example, H&M Australia made pop-up stores in 2015 and Uniqlo did it in 2014 to test the market.[31][32]


  1. ^ a b Gregory, Sean (November 6, 2009). "Why Pop-Up Shops Are Hot". Time. Archived from the original on November 8, 2009. Retrieved November 22, 2009. Ricky's Costume Superstore in New York City was ready for Halloween
  2. ^ Clifford, Stephanie (October 30, 2008). "Hanging Out at a Mall for the Holidays". The New York Times. Retrieved November 22, 2009. 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.
  3. ^ Wei, Daniela (August 23, 2016). "Why Nutella and Nike Have Hong Kong Shoppers Lining Up For Hours". Daybreak Asia. Hong Kong: Bloomberg. Retrieved November 30, 2016.
  4. ^ Chin, Mallory (October 26, 2016). "Stanton Street Sports Heads Overseas for a Pop-up Store in Japan". New York: Hypebeast. Retrieved November 30, 2016.
  5. ^ Lascurain, Fernanda (August 13, 2014). "Pop Up Store 2014". Mexico City: Architectural Digest. Retrieved November 30, 2016.
  6. ^ Cardiner, Brock (June 26, 2016). "Here's What People Wore to Kanye West's Pop-Up Shop in Paris". Paris: High Snobiety. Retrieved November 30, 2016.
  7. ^ "Samsung pop-up store by Cheil Germany, Frankfurt – Germany". Germany: Retail Design Blog. June 28, 2016. Retrieved November 30, 2016.
  8. ^ Smith, Stephen (December 4, 2009). "The pop-up shopping phenomenon". Newsnight. London: BBC Two. Retrieved January 17, 2010.
  9. ^ "The Magic of Pop-Up Shop Marketing". United States: American Marketing Association. October 1, 2017. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  10. ^ "Christmas markets in Vienna". Austrian National Tourist Office. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  11. ^ Moore, Booth, (July, 1999) LA Times. "Cutting-Edge Clothes and Music at Ritual Expos." http://articles.latimes.com/1999/jul/09/news/cl-54193
  12. ^ Baltin, Steve, (October, 2000) Chicago Tribune. "Ritual in the Making, Creative Fields Converge To Form Ultimate Hipster Mall In A Nightclub Atmosphere." http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2000-10-11/features/0010100545_1_jed-wexler-ritual-events-walk
  13. ^ Video compilation of some of first pop-up retail stores. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsX0f7526Zc
  14. ^ Swystun, Jeff, (September, 2015) Business 2 Community. "Pop-Up Retail: Where Will It Go Next?" http://www.business2community.com/branding/pop-retail-will-go-next-01316364
  15. ^ a b Kelly, Sean (April 2016). "Pop-Up Power". IN_retail.
  16. ^ Billy Gray (December, 2012) New York Observer. On 10th Anniversary of First NYC Pop-Up, Retailers Look Back.http://commercialobserver.com/2012/12/on-10th-anniversary-of-first-nyc-pop-up-retailers-look-back/
  17. ^ Robb Mandelbaum (June, 2013) New York Times Magazine. Who Made That? Pop-up Store. https://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/magazine/2013/innovations-issue/#/?part=popupstore
  18. ^ Lazarovic, Sarah (March, 2003) Elle Canada. Are pop-up stores the hip new face of retail or a clever marketing ploy to fight consumer fatigue? http://www.ellecanada.com/living/shop-n-go/a/24980
  19. ^ Tzortzis, Andreas (October, 2004) Pop-up stores: here today, gone tomorrow https://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/24/business/worldbusiness/24iht-popups25.html?pagewanted=all
  20. ^ Trend Watching, Pop-up Retail, http://trendwatching.com/trends/POPUP_RETAIL.htm
  21. ^ Coleman-Lochner, Lauren (October, 2014) Bloomberg. "NYC's SoHo Serves as Testing Ground for Chobani, Samsung." https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-10-01/nyc-s-soho-serves-as-retail-testing-ground-for-chobani-samsung
  22. ^ "Fourth Element Launch World's First Pop-Down Shop". www.linkedin.com. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  23. ^ Huffington Post, Study Shows That People Are Getting Even More Obsessed With Pop-Up Restaurant, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/10/pop-up-restaurants-study-people-more-obsessed_n_7035394.html
  24. ^ "Classic Cars Pop-Up Store 2021 celebrates its second edition". Classic Trader Magazine International. 2021-02-09. Retrieved 2021-02-11.
  25. ^ "Pop Ups - Newbury Street Boston". Newbury Street Boston. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  26. ^ "Storefronts go from empty to artistic - The Boston Globe". BostonGlobe.com. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  27. ^ Jones, Katherine (2017-03-23). "Treefort Music Festival has music for all ages". The Idaho Statesman.
  28. ^ Bloomberg TV (May, 2014). An Inside Look at the Pop-Up Retail Phenomenon
  29. ^ Gonzalez, Melissa (December, 2014). The Pop-Up Paradigm: How Brands Build Human Connections in a Digital Age. https://www.amazon.com/The-Pop-Up-Paradigm-Connections-ebook/dp/B00P04ZYRA
  30. ^ "Gorgeous rare posters by the likes of Picasso, Míro and Le Corbusier". It's Nice That. 5 May 2015. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  31. ^ Cummins, Carolyn (October, 2015). H&M close to opening in Pitt Street Mall. H&M close to opening in Pitt Street mall
  32. ^ Wells, Rachel (January, 2014).Uniqlo gives Melbourne a sample of what is to come. Uniqlo gives Melbourne a sample of what is to come