Prospering with pop-up stores

image (23)

During fashion week in London’s Soho district this past February, Lego opened a pop-up store with nothing in it. Well, nothing except for a pedestal displaying a QR code. When visitors scanned the “Snapcode,” linked to Snapchat, their phones displayed an augmented reality-enabled fashion boutique where they could interact with arcade games, a DJ and a bouncer. They also could view an exclusive limited-edition apparel collection, available for purchase through the social media site’s “Shop Now” feature.

Pop-up concepts like this are becoming essential in retail, where consumers’ insatiable desire for the new and different requires constant testing and experimentation. Pop-ups lend an air of exclusivity, an of-the-moment excitement and Instagram worthiness that generates top-of-mind brand buzz in crowded markets. Their success has driven the pop-up industry to approximately $10 billion in sales, according to PopUp Republic.


Retailers create pop-ups for a variety of reasons, and their run times vary from just a few days to months or more. Common purposes include the desire to:

  • Explore potential new markets; Goop recently opened a London pop-up for this purpose.
  • Test new products/concepts/services and experiment, such as Wrangler trying out a new global high-end line in London.
  • Try out brick-and-mortar, for e-Commerce-only retailers.
  • Attract a new customer base, such as House of Fraser’s recent pop-up.
  • Promote the brand.
  • Engage directly with customers, especially for brands that sell primarily through retailers. Superdruginvited social media influencers to select the products for its ethical makeup-only pop-up.
  • Study and learn from customers.
  • Tie in to holidays or events, such as Waterstones’ International Woman’s Day pop-up featuring only female authors.
  • Take advantage of an opportunistic lease in a prime location.
  • Serve as a click-and-collect/BOPIS location, as Zara did at Westfield Stratford in east London.

Some pop-ups run their course and close down, but retailers have also adopted pop-up only business models — generating excitement by temporarily setting up shop at locations suggested by their social media following, for example — or moved on from the pop-up concept to full brick-and-mortar sites, as Amazon is now doing in the U.S.

Cloud-based platforms are well-suited for retailers operating pop-ups because they give the new location instant access to the software needed to run the store without anyone needing to install and configure devices on site.

“Pop-ups are a physical media channel much like the Internet, TV and radio, and can be used as a tool to tell a brand’s story,” said Leon Goldwater, Chief Executive Officer of We Are Pop Up, a firm that helps businesses book pop-up spaces and ShopShares in Europe.

“Many brands and retailers have realised the impact of using physical locations as experiential concepts and that they are essential to activate and keep customers engaged. The pop-up needs to be seen as part of the brand’s marketing strategy and as a great way to test out new concepts, ideas and formats.”

Written by: Andrew Gaffney

What is a pop-up shop?

A pop-up shop is temporary retail space used by one or multiple brands (shop share) to test new concepts, formats and markets in an innovative and original way without heavy investment.

Pop-up shops, by their ephemeral nature, encourage purchases through the FOMO  (fear of missing out) effect. It is also now part of a strategy used by bigger brands to test a market or try new concepts. For pure play retailers it can directly connect them with their customers in order to engage or provide relevant research information and greater brand awareness.


The short-term retail concept is changing the traditional ways we shop.
Pop-up shops have become increasingly common as brands and retailers look to create new ways to heighten the brick and mortar arm of their operations. With the current demand for new retail concepts the property market is becoming more flexible through the use of technology, which enables brands to connect to landlords much faster than ever before and enable them to try short-term rents which is something that only started to happen in the last decade and is starting to go mainstream.

We Are Pop Up has created an easy process for brands to find and test spaces and for landlords to find tenants. It is the world’s largest network of retailers, landlords and brands collaborating on creative retail experiences through one platform. Known as the airbnb of retail, it is a booking platform for short-term retail spaces. Brands can also collaborate with each other to create retail experiences through brand-to-brand messaging and ShopShare.


Regardless of how successful a brand is online, nothing can replace the physical experience coupled with human interaction; pop-ups are here to stay and ultimately it will become a movement which will change the way retailers and property owners consider space, making it easier for businesses to utilise vacant spaces and create concepts never seen before.



We Are Pop Up x Depop New York: The Start Of A Beautiful Partnership

We met with the Depop New York team a few months ago, and spent most of the meeting reading about Kickstarter’s Potato Salad Guy. Definitely the start of a beautiful friendship … and as of today, an exciting partnership!

Depop is an app that enables you to sell straight from your phone. Much like We Are Pop Up, Depop is ideal for young and experienced brands alike; it’s distilled the complicated world of online retail into a simple and profitable process.

Selling On DepopOver the next few months, we’ll be featuring some of our favorite Depop brands on our blog. And as the year progresses, keep your ears perked for additional collaborations with the lovely Depop New York team!



Blog button

Local shopping spots win out over shopping centres

Half of consumers prefer shopping local to visiting out-of-town shopping centres. The overall experience heavily factors into where they shop, meaning a failure by shopping centre managers to adapt the environment will inevitably lead to a loss of market share.

CBRE commissioned the groundbreaking ‘How Consumers Shop 2014’ report, surveying 21,000 shoppers in 21 European countries.

When it comes to consumer motivation, the high street wins on price and convenience – as well as the presence of independent shops and speciality retailers.

Importance of different factors when choosing where to shop
“What makes a shopping centre attractive?” Differences by type of centre

It pays to attract – and keep – local consumers entertained

Over half the people surveyed travel 15 minutes or less to their favourite shopping spot when it comes to non-food shopping, so it clearly pays to concentrate on attracting local customers.

Shopping areas that invest win greater consumer loyalty – especially high-earners

This week, Regent Street in London launched in-store Beacons that connect shoppers with loyalty discounts in real-time. Commissioned by The Crown Estate, Regent Street is the first shopping street in Europe to launch a co-ordinated effort across retailers, using a mobile app and Bluetooth Beacon technology.

Neighbourhood-level initiatives show the hidden advantages of high streets. Shopping centre rivals increasingly need to look beyond retail leasing, to the fundamental shopping experience and environment:

The contemporary battleground for shopping centre market share is increasingly focusing on what a shopping centre can offer in addition to pure retail sales – food and beverage, entertainment, and events – all designed to create compelling experiences for shoppers.

John Welham, Head of European Retail Investment, CBRE

Distinct clusters of countries share shopping characteristics

The survey found three major shopping trends split by geography.

‘European Mainstream’ – Europe’s core retail markets, including Britain along with France, Germany and Poland.

‘Shopping Centre Socialites’ – Ireland falls under the Mediterranean trend, who see shopping centres as ‘good places to meet friends’.

‘Utilitarian Consumers’ – Scandinavian countries who value cleanliness and retail mix over additional events and activities.

More broadly, 90% of consumers prefer to visit shops to buy, rather than purchase online. A minority – less than 20% – use tablets or smartphones during the buying process.

Shopping centres look to urban trends

Out-of-town malls are looking to trends in urban cores. Diversification and innovation are high on the agenda – with “business hub” work spaces about to open at Meadowhall.

We Are Pop Up launched the Pop Up Village at the Corio’s Boulevard Berlin earlier this year. The village shows what’s possible in shopping centres beyond traditional leased retail, providing emerging fashion labels with instant access to consumers. These brands in turn provide consumers with fresh, engaging content. The Pop Up Village showcases how shopping centres can embrace the innovation currently rising on High Streets.

Experiential Retail and the Shared Economy at The Allies

Creating experiential pop ups are, more than anything, an exercise in the shared economy. The point of The Allies was to showcase and sell work by six artists, think about what they mean, understand how they’re linked and use their energy as fuel for a new type of gallery. What I realized in the process is that it is entirely impossible to group these artists with photographers, illustrators, painters and printmakers of the past. The Internet’s produced a new modernity, and artists who harness the Internet’s tools – Instagram, PayPal, Kickstarter, corporate clients’ global reach, the 24/7 promotion cycle – are new modern artists. Their style of work is a response to the new modern possibilities provided for them. And so it goes with pop ups too. Funding by We Are Pop Up and Martenero, a Kickstarter by Made in the Lower East Side, a rejection of the traditional gallery model by these six new modern artists (who can reject the gallery because they can sell and promote on their own) and a landlord willing to experiment with a pop up made The Allies possible.

For The Allies dinners, we shared our space, story and guestlist and received sustainable food, expert prep and service in return.

Curating vibrant new modern artists in a traditional gallery would be like mixing sparking water with flat. We made The Allies retail space effervescent by creating a lifecycle that mimicked the pace of our artists and the pace of New Yorkers. The Allies artists are constantly creating and changing, so the gallery was constantly creating different content. New Yorkers – and all people – have different needs at different times of day. They don’t visit galleries in the morning, but they do attend yoga classes. They don’t go back to galleries twice to see the same exhibit, but they do go to the same space twice for different types of events. The lifelike nature of The Allies allowed us to invite New Yorkers in more frequently, and for different reasons. We could reach out to press multiple times as pictures and anecdotes changed. We could curate different audiences – street artists and architects for one dinner and pop up-space owners for another – at different times to drive different conversations and relationships.

Experiential retail creates multiple lead characters who run the show at different times. We tapped The Rad Trads to play for press and collectors the night before the opening party.

Increasing “Surface Area” To Produce a Shared Economy
The experiential landscape meant just as much for businesses as it did for the audience. The Allies gallery was a story, an experience with an arc. Since it changed form throughout the day and the week, Imagination in Space could engage multiple partners in ways that fit them best. I think of it as surface area. By creating an experience, we could increase the surface area of the space. Think of, say, American Apparel. Great store, locations with high footfall, lots of in-store traffic. Not much surface area. When you walk in the store, you can only buy and leave. I already know I can’t discover anything new, so every store is just shut off to me. Imagine, though, if American Apparel curated pop ups a la Harrod’s. Each pop up would be able to utilize AA’s brand recognition, footfall and instore traffic to build awareness and sales for itself. AA could use curated pop ups to create new content, social media buzz, new types of visitors and another storyline inside its existing space. They’d increase the surface area despite keeping the real estate generally the same. All they’d be changing was the story.

A shared economy equation: Rug by Kea, chairs and table from Made in the Lower East Side, flowers and table clothes from artist Yazmany (vases are pint glasses), table settings from Imagination in Space, ingredients from Farmigo, menu by Ango, guests from New York City

At The Allies, we could have placed a bowl of Apples from Farmigo at the front entrance and written: “Check out the site.” That would increase the surface area a bit, and would create a shared economy of space. That’s a low, shallow touchpoint, and an odd fit in an art gallery. We’d be taking attention away from the art, reducing an online farms market to a set of apples, and we’d be responsible for supplying and tending to the apples each day. Curate a pair of dinners, though, and we’ve opened up an opportunity for guests to intimately discover and build relationships with Farmigo’s food, story and head of marketing Jay Lee. The rub, of course, is that instead of tending to apples, Imagination in Space now had to prepare dinner for a dozen guests back to back nights. Instead, we brought on Ango, a farm-to-table catering startup to select, manage and prepare Farmigo’s ingredients.

Increasing the surface area through an experiential story created an incredibly efficient shared economy. Imagination in Space had no food or cooking skills but we had a space, an interesting story and a guestlist. Farmigo had delicious, sustainable ingredients but no story, prep team, space and audience. Ango had the skills but no ingredients, space or audience. By bringing on Farmigo and Ango, we created a supply chain that went: farm-trucks-warehouse-chef-team-set up-prep-serving without spending a dime. All Imagination in Space paid for was the photographer to help tell the story. All Farmigo paid for was wholesale costs on food. All Ango paid for was prep supplies and staffing. We linked Farmigo and Ango (who’d never met) and did it all within the context of a pair of dinners where conversation revolved around mash ups of previously unconventional cultural models. While in a pop up that mashed up cultural models. With guests who are mashing up cultural models (Eric Tan from, for example, is raising funding for a pop up hotel; Bevin Savage Yamazaki installed a boat outside the New Museum and a slide inside it).

Imagination in Space’s Model
The Imagination in Space model is to leverage the expertise of many partners to create a new cultural model. The same rule applied for dinners as it did for morning yoga. Each day, I’d come in early, sweep up the backyard and then hand the keys over to Angelica Olstad from Pop Up Yoga NYC. She’d lead her class of students, lock up and come back the next day. We shared the space to produce a dynamic shared story, shared revenue, shared photos and shared guest lists. With Martenero, we did the same. It’s a wonderful shared economy based as much on the story and situation (both, essentially free) as it is on hard resources like real estate. By opening up morning to an entirely different story – yoga vs. art – we were able to increase meaningful surface area. By creating another storyline, Imagination in Space created an opportunity for another lead character.

The Allies in NYC: A New Modern Art Pop Up

In May, Imagination in Space x We Are Pop Up closed The Allies, a pop up art show in NYC’s East Village. The show was a collaboration between artists (London’s Elmo Hood and Inkie and NYC’s Joey L, Sam Spratt, Misha T and Yazmany), retailers (Martenero watches, Heidi Gardner jewelry, Kea rugs), foodies (Farmigo and Ango, architects ( and Columbia’s GSAPP program  and space purveyors (We Are Pop Up and Made in the Lower East Side). Plus daily morning yoga from Pop Up Yoga NYC.

What was The Allies, exactly? An art gallery. A prototype for a new modern art gallery that’s more dynamic, vibrant, welcoming and democratic than traditional galleries. A decade after the Internet made the world social and open-source, galleries are generally still closed off, anti-social and repetitive. They run the same hardware: square rooms with white walls, a front desk, tiny art placards, minimalist window decals and opaque pricing. They run the same software, too: aloof staff, one event per show, free wine and the stiff soul of a library.


A vibrant new modern art gallery
The Allies featured art, of course, but within the spirited rhythm of a festival. Over eight days, we hosted a press preview with live jazz, a launch party, an offsite after party, a pair of innovation dinners, a Memorial Day picnic and yoga. We made artist placards much bigger so guests didn’t have to stand an inch away like Mr. Magoo. We gave partner bios and artist bios equal emphasis. We played with acceptable landscape features, and broke whitespace rules – putting an aquarium with ticking watches adjacent to editioned Inkie prints. We priced democratically, not fearing that a low-price option would cannibalize the perception of a high-priced item. Art anchored the product selection, but it didn’t end there; The Allies extended into other unisex, one-size-fits-all options like watches, jewelry and yoga.

The Allies is the second in a series of Imagination in Space art pop ups that are recreating the gallery model. (First up was American Dreams in London during Frieze 2013). The creative destruction starts with the artists we curated – new modern artists bound by a shared ethos of creating for the public, for commercial clients, for social media fans. Their style is polymath – based on, and fine-tuned by, the tastes of everyone, not the tastes of gallerists, art critics or an esoteric school of thought. Feedback is real-time, reach is global and mediums are endless. Artists, like bloggers a decade ago, don’t have to filter through gatekeepers. They go straight to the people. And even more important, artists no longer just interpret the world around us; they create worlds around us. Think about Banksy’s trip to NYC last year. He came, he conquered, we saw.

For The Allies, we curated artists who are similar in their co-option of viral cultural canvases. Sam Spratt trained as an oil painter but illustrates on a Wacom tablet. He gets his work out to millions by creating for entertainment icons like Childish Gambino, Janelle Monáe and an upcoming presidential thriller. Joey L’s commercial work – headshots of DeNiro, promo assets for The History Channel – spreads his photography onto Times Square billboards and city phone booths. Inkie grew up in Bristol, tagging walls. Now he organizes street art festivals and paints snow at ski resorts. Misha T dominates the art battle circuit, creates murals and extends his style into product lines. Elmo Hood started under the Westway and created a viral art series out of playing cards. Yazmany’s public art brings thousands of balloons to international cities and, next month, a living sculpture of colored people in South Africa. If The Allies artists could be summed up in four words it’d be: Turn Down For What?

The Allies By The Numbers

Like every retail brand out there, we think constantly about how to create a thriving, lifelike, experiential environment. With The Allies, we wanted to mirror the energy of new modern artists. (More about the experiential nature of The Allies in an upcoming post). But does energy and art gallery mix? Yes. Over eight days we generated $18,366 in sales with $2,600 more pending. Guests, artists and partners used #theallies hashtag on Instagram more than 100 times, our Facebook fan page doubled to 410 (uh oh, Audi here we come!), and secured 350 new email addresses for future invites. We received coverage from Artnet, Street Art NYC, Artinfo, Artnerd, Well and Good, The Wild and The Skint and had the opportunity to showcase incredible art from new modern artists for eight days in the heart of the city.

Pop up shops rise to the challenge

Pop ups are now a mainstay of retail life, said the Financial Times this week. They asked our CEO Nick Russell to estimate the number of pop up shops in London. Read his reply and the FT’s take on the rise of the pop ups…

Pop up stores rise to challenge of reviving retail, says Financial Times
Pop up stores rise to challenge of reviving retail, says Financial Times

Cool brands keep each other warm this winter

Frame’s dance, fitness and holistic studios are right smack-bang in the middle of “the greatest two little suburbs in the entire world – Shoreditch and Queen’s Park.” So with such established locations, we were intrigued to find out what compelled Frame to pop up at other venues through their new pop up series ‘Frame on the Move’.

Frame on the Move will see Frame classes popping up at various locations around London and nationwide, ranging from rooftops to nightclubs, to churches and even clothes stores, creating incredible one-off experiences on top of a damn good work out!

Each Frame on the Move experience will be full of suprises, from tea on arrival or post-workout make-overs, live djs to green juices.

We Are Pop Up caught up with Frame’s co-founder Pip Black, to understand what a collaboration with another brand can bring to a pop up project.

We love the Frame Studio, why take Frame on the Move?

Frame on the move aims to create unique experiences to convince the population that ‘exercise’ doesn’t need to sit out on it’s own limb, but is actually just part of your overall lifestyle, and can link in with food, music, cocktails, movies and other pastimes we love.

A secondary aim is to take Frame out to locations that suit people who don’t live near one of our permanent sites. Most of our ‘MOVING’ is set to happen in January, when health and fitness is at the forefront of everyone’s minds, but it doesn’t mean that we should stop going to our favourite restaurants and bars… lets work out in them instead!

Frame on the Move yoga on Boundary Rooftop was beautiful this morning. We Are Pop Up certainly enjoyed it, but what does a collaboration like that bring to your brand?

The collaboration with Boundary Rooftop came about due to us wanting a zen rooftop space with views to showcase our wonderful yoga teachers, and the Boundary wanting to promote their new ‘glass box’ allowing for rooftop events and drinks all year round. I couldn’t think of a better place to do a yoga class, and the Boundary staff have been incredible helpful and positive about the idea… (nothing to do with the amount of stretchy ladies on the roof!) It works so well because the time we want to use the space, the rooftop was currently not being used… so it’s not affecting their normal operations.

As the Boundary is such a unique and classy venue, it brings really positive connotations to the Frame brand, adding a hint of luxury to what we do!

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of popping up in partnership with another brand?

Make sure the brands ‘fit’ – nothing worse than working with a brand that’s trying to talk to a different demograph. Also make sure both sides are working equally on the project. I’ve found myself in a few situations in the past where i step back and realise Frame is providing everything… venue / staff / marketing / database… and the other brand is basically just taking the piss, sitting back and doing nothing!

What brand partnerships have worked well?

We did a big collaboration with Sweaty Betty, with FRAME RAVE in September!

And any forthcoming exciting brand partnerships you can share with us?

We are planning some really exciting things with Nike for January, alongside working with Paradise by way of Kensal Green, Casa Negra and The Hoxton.

To book Frame on the Move, see here

To pop up in Frame’s Shoreditch or Queen’s Park studio, see here.

Japan’s highstreet collides with London – The Collectionaires Pop-Up Shop at Saint Katharine’s Dock


On Friday night we stopped by Collectionaires very first Pop-Up Shop currently taking place in Unit G of Ivory House at St. Katharine’s Dock in E1W 1AT. Collectionaires is the brainchild of Skye Xu and Kevin House and launched in April this year. It sells exclusive, very high quality designer clothing from Japanese designers and brands – quality is paramount and the clothes really are beautiful, unique pieces.


Luckily, we were able to pull Kevin aside for a few moments and ask him about the Collectionaires story. A few months back Skye and her friend were talking about launching a new clothing brand bringing Japanese designer goods into the UK market. Skye has a degree in marketing and e-commerce which she has been putting to good use with a range of clients and previously worked at the Financial Times ‘How to Spend It’ Magazine, but dreamed of launching her own business. Kevin has an Information Technology background – specifically energy utilisation – and has been interested in new business models for a while. When he heard what they were planning he was inspired to join in.


Collectionaires has set up as a business using high street retail as a supplementary part of their retail strategy – with a focus primarily on online sales. They will host 4 or 5 pop-up shops a year, showcasing their products and reaching new audiences. Kevin shared a little about their experiences of sourcing the brands in their collection.

In Japan the brands are well known – they are stocked in the equivalent of Selfridges but aren’t yet on UK high streets. Collectionaires want to support a shift in UK perceptions of Japanese fashion brands. They focus exclusively on bringing Japanese designers into the UK market. They understand the import regulations and requirements – and are building an audience for these beautiful products. I love the idea that a start-up retailer is using a pop-up shop to bridge the gap between high end brands in different markets.


They have started with 6 brands for a 7 week Pop-Up at St Katherine’s Dock and have launched their online website

We highly recommend getting yourself down to the pop-up shop to check out the clothes for real – and picking yourself up some little Christmas pressies online or in-store.

Twitter @collectionaires

Find the shop:

View Larger Map


Tinned Bananas at BOXPARK – go nuts!


Tinned Bananas is a new breed of women’s fashion. We make crazy designs and print them onto stretched fabric to give you a different style of clothing!

Our prints are our own, they are who we are and they are what define us. We take inspiration from raw funk to gritty soul and we fill our prints with untapped energy. One thing’s for sure: their explosive personality will blow your mentality!


Taking the next step in our creative journey we have recently opened our flagship store at the world’s first pop-up mall, BOXPARK.

We want there to be a soulful feeling in everything we do and ensure there is a constant flow of good energy in our work! Here at our pop-up store at BOXPARK, funk is king. We want you to open your mind and bring yourself to life and our store at BOXPARK allows us to do just that!

Our retail space is open for 3 months, from the 1st November to 1st February!

During our time at BOXPARK we want to engage with our target audience as much as possible. We will be offering a range of in-store discounts and hosting a number of special events! Customers will also have the chance to purchase exclusive products that are available only to BOXPARK customers.

BOXPARK is a great concept and is perfect for companies like ours! It is simple and a great way for start up brands to find their feet, have fun with their customers and create a buzz around their brand! Owner and founder of BOXPARK, Roger Wade, is a key figure in supporting smaller brands. He is currently leading the battle to reduce business rates in the area, which would give companies a better chance to succeed in this tough industry and ultimately, help rejuvenate our high streets!

Tinned Bananas at BOXPARK - go nuts! Pop-up shop

BOXPARK is more than a shopping experience. Located in one of the most happening places in East London, it is a society made up of creative ideas that continues to push boundaries, offering customers something new week in week out. It is the start of something new.


We are always listening and looking for the opportunity to talk to people so please don’t stay quiet, come and see some our weird and wonderful prints, visit us at BOXPARK, Shoreditch. x

Tinned Bananas at BOXPARK – go nuts!

Find Tinned Bananas at BOXPARK »