The Retail Revolution- Pop-up shops now popping up in Shopping Centres

We are in the midst of a retail revolution. Customers are demanding more experiences and unique offerings and less of the department store feel. Out are the stuffy, basic shopping centres and in are the exclusive shops providing particular experiences and technology immersion. Anchor stores, a once coveted spot, are left vacant, forcing shopping centre owners to re-think their strategy and work to fill the empty spaces piling up. It’s a fight to stay relevant and impress shoppers with innovative experiences.

This last year has seen several announcements of middle to large department stores closing from the likes of Macy’s, GAP, and Office Depot. Even luxury brands such as Michael Kors are pairing back their store counts, realizing that overexposure does not always equal more profit. Shoppers no longer want the standard department store or luxury shop that can be found everywhere in the world. The allure of a luxury brand is exclusivity but if it’s too accessible, it loses that appeal. This movement is causing centre owners some financial pain. Shopping centres in the UK have seen a 2% drop in footfall since July of 2016. Shoppers are bored and as we are currently in a mostly trendless season, they have little incentive to go to a mall to fill their closets with things they already have. Shopping centre owners must find other offerings to bring customers back in and keep them.
Barbican in London

In a move to encourage pop-up shops to rent with them, big shopping centres such as Westfield Corp. and Simon Property Group are building “white box” stores. These stores will have a simple interior, able to transform for each brand that sets up there. These shopping centres in particular are allocating 5% of their leasable space to these places. Centres in Asia are doing even more to cash in on the pop-up store popularity. Hysan Bay in Hong Kong has hosted everything from a Nespresso pop-up shop to yoga classes hosted by Lululemon in an effort to get more people into the mall. Shopping centre owners are seeing the investment possibilities of these temporary shops.

People queue in a line at a Nutella pop-up shop in Hong Kong, China, on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. Photographer: Anthony Kwan/Bloomberg
People queue in a line at a Nutella pop-up shop in Hong Kong, China, on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. Photographer: Anthony Kwan/Bloomberg

These pop-up shops are changing the “shopping centre experience”; breathing new life into an old concept. Many shoppers are tired of seeing the same concept luxury brands everywhere as they have oversaturated the market, making what was once exclusive so interesting. As well as welcoming back the once regular shoppers, pop-up shops are bringing in new clientele. The Kanye West pop-up shop in Northbrook brought customers from out-of-town that normally wouldn’t even be in that city, with attendees claiming they had driven quite a distance to get there. Rotating pop-ups encourage shoppers to keep coming back to see something different. We’ve seen successful examples of these shops for both well-known and obscure brands, each approaching the concept in a different way. As rent prices and vacancies go up, we are sure to see more of these strategies in use.

Food: The Experiential Movement

We’ve all done it, posted an Instagram photo of that carbonara you’re about to dig into, spent hours waiting for a table at the hottest new restaurant in town, or just gotten lost in the vortex that is Pinterest looking for a new recipe to try. Food. We love to eat it, post about it, and we spend most of the day thinking about what our next meal will be. As of 2014, 50% of millennials consider themselves to be foodies. What is it about food that makes it more than just a means of survival?

As millennials, we are all about the experience. We don’t want just a basic transaction between a business and a customer, we want creativity and novelty and to feel like we have had a memorable moment in our lives with that experience. We are also looking for communal experiences. Having a connection to the people around us is important, we don’t care if it’s with strangers or friends. About 55% of millennials prefer communal tables as opposed to private seating. The food movement is really a communitarian movement says author of several foodie books, Michael Pollan. We want to be involved and present with everyone and everything when enjoying our meal.

About 80% of millennials want to know more about how their food is grown and will spend more on ethically sourced meats and farm-to-table experiences. It is for this reason that community is an integral part in the investment we have in every step of the process when it comes to our food. We want to know where it came from, if it’s processed, and even how happy the pig was that is now bacon on your plate. What’s better than when the waiter sets butter on table and lets you know it was locally sourced from a farm down the road, was churned in the restaurant and the cow’s name is Betsey? Or when the Chef who just created the beef tartare you’re munching on, comes by to introduce himself? A deep connection with the food is made when we know all of the information.

Pop-up restaurants and food trucks are a large source of experiential dining. Theme Night? Kale Craze? All possible to experiment with when you’re taking over an abandoned warehouse or “space 12” in a parking lot. It also breeds a feeling of exclusivity. Scored tickets for that secret supper club? Time to let Facebook and your friends know how much you’re enjoying your meal that they will never be able to get. Millennial diners have major FOMO (fear of missing out) and 72% have said when they see posts of friends dining out, they wish they could be there with them. Hashtag jealous?

Gone are the days of frozen meals and mystery meat. Here to stay, at least for now, is a communal experiential movement. To all those brave enough to host, good luck keeping us entertained.

Should I Dropship My Products?

A guest article from our lovely partner, Modalyst

To Dropship or not to Dropship? That is the question.

There are many conflicting feelings about Dropshipping. Like all business models, there are advantages and disadvantages so it’s up to you to decide whether is right for your brand. To help you get started, we’ve outlined some pros and cons for you below.

First, what is Dropshipping?

Dropshipping is a retail fulfillment model where the store does not hold the inventory but rather sells products and has the supplier ship them directly to the customer.

Let’s talk Pros and Cons from a supplier’s perspective.

Pros of Dropshipping:


So you spend a ton of time creating a beautiful e-commerce site but how do you get people to see it? We hear this all the time at Modalyst. Suppliers are finding it difficult to drive traffic to their own online stores. There is no secret sauce for this but we can offer a few ways that may help you increase your visitors. But one of the best strategies is to be open to Dropshipping.

By offering your products for Dropship, you can exponentially increase your exposure. For example, if you are online selling sunglasses through your own online store, you are only reaching the audience you have been able to connect with through your own marketing efforts.

If you choose to Dropship your products, you can sell the same pair of sunglasses across hundreds of online stores. Each of these hundreds of stores are aggressively marketing their own site to drive traffic (often by using your products!) so you are reaching new audiences by just allowing them to post your sunglasses to their site.

Selling through your Online Store VS. Dropshipping through several Online Stores

As the supplier, you are not restricted to the amount of stock you have on hand. As long as you are diligently updating your retailers on the inventory levels, you can “sell” 1 pair of sunglasses across as many sites as you choose!

Making $$$

Now that you are handling all the logistics (and often returns) you can negotiate better commissions. Modalyst offers a standard 60/40 split with the vendors so the suppliers receive 60% of the full MSRP of the product.

Additionally, you can manage hundreds of relationships and not have to worry about Inventory since Modalyst automatically syncs your stock levels. As soon as a product is out of stock, it will be marked that way across all stores selling that item. So now multiply that 60% by hundreds and you can significantly increase your cash flow.

Offloading Excess Inventory

Inventory is the devil. There is nothing worse than staring at left over units from previous collections that didn’t sell. While wholesale buyers are typically picky about selling stale goods, online retailers are much less season-sensitive. Let’s face it, consumers will buy what they want, when they want online, whether it is mittens in Summer or swimsuits in winter.

So if you are reluctant to put your past collections for sale on your own e-commerce site, why not off load it across other online retailers? Dropshipping can be an effective way to quickly get rid of the ghosts of seasons past.

Cons of Dropshipping:

Shipping and Logistics

If you are a one-man/ woman show, handling the shipping for all the items can be time consuming. First, you will need a good understanding of the costs so you can relay that to your retailers accurately. The vendors will need to know the rates before you sell anything so they can inform their customers. The retailer will pay the shipping costs on top of the 60% so make sure you are properly charging (that means not over charging as well!). Be aware that the online store can price their shipping however they choose.

Second, you will need to be fulfilling the orders promptly so the customers are receiving the items as soon as possible. Remember that the customer is interacting with the retailer (not you) so you are in fact shipping on behalf of the store. If you ship the items late, that will reflect poorly on the store and they will likely stop Dropshipping your items. So if you plan to go on vacation- let your retailers know!


Get ready to deal with returns and refunds. You are probably already familiar with them from your own e-commerce site, but multiply that times the amount of stores you are Dropshipping with and this can be a bit of a headache. To avoid confusion, be upfront about your return policy so the retailers are well informed and know what to expect.

Managing Cash Flow

In wholesale relationships, suppliers have control over minimums and delivery which allows for better predicting of cash flow. In other words, many times suppliers are only producing the amount of units ordered as to protect against excess inventory.

With Dropshipping, you have no idea when you will be paid and how much it will impact your cash flow. If you are new to Dropshipping, you might say yes to every store that requests your products but as you become more experienced, you may find it more effective to only deal with the stores that predictably sell your products. This will help you better organize and predict your cash flow. If you are interested in learning more about cash flow, take a look at our series on the subject here.

In conclusion, Dropshipping can be a great way to market your products but it comes with challenges that you will need to asses and be prepared to face!

Want help dropshipping your collection? Email and she would be happy to get you started!




Grace Miceli’s Disruptive Art Empire

As part of our ongoing partnership with Depop, we sat down with one of their freshest artists, and one of the newest members of the We Are Pop Up community, Grace Miceli (aka Art Baby Girl). 

Grace Miceli considers her two titles of artist and curator to be inseparable. “Creating and collaborating go together,” she said, over coffee at Spreadhouse. Google her name and you’ll fall into a magic-marker-internet wonderland. Her Instagram. Her online gallery. Her coverage in Broadly, W Magazine, Nylon and The New York Times.

Grace Miceli

Miceli is building an art empire by cultivating a community of artists whose work spans from interactive digital to apparel prints. Her exhibitions combine art and retail, so that throughout a show, visitors can purchase featured artists’ more affordable art (hats and t-shirts, for instance). The daughter of an artist and musician, Miceli’s goal is to make art approachable, enabling virgin collectors to explore the art world sans “Chelsea pretension.”

By combining the power of contemporary art and accessible retail, Miceli repositions the sterile art gallery as a friendly shop, where visitors are greeted by a smile instead of flat neglect. This shift benefits curious collectors and artists alike. “An artist’s work on a baseball cap travels a lot further than a print hanging up in an apartment,” said Miceli. In the past year, Miceli’s art displayed at Outlaw Art Space, Bushwick Open Studios, Vox Populi, and Transfer Gallery.

Art Baby Girl

Miceli’s creative retail approach fosters an inclusive community online and off. From LiveJournal to Tumblr and then to Instagram, Miceli has evolved alongside the internet; she uses her online and mobile presence to showcase her art and collaborations. Miceli’s iterative process generates a steady stream of feedback, finetuning and conversation. And now, she’s gearing up for a cross-country tour. She’s curating at Sunday, Los Angeles in February, and then launching a US-wide gallery tour with Brooklyn’s Alt Space. “I’m excited to have the chance to meet artists who don’t live in NYC, it will be interesting to learn about artists whose practices exist in different and smaller cities.”

On her migration from online to retail spaces, Miceli says, “this started online, and that’s how it needed to start.” We can’t wait to see what Miceli has in store – and in stores. Visit her on We Are Pop Up and Depop.

Interested in becoming a Depop seller? Drop us a line and we’ll connect you!




A Smashing Success: Snack To The Future at Artists & Fleas, Williamsburg

This past Sunday, February 28th, the NYC foodie community gathered at Artists & Fleas’ Williamsburg location where they snacked their way through the day at ‘Snack to the Future.’ During the day, customers were invited to try samples from all the attending food vendors, and vote on their favorite. And to make things even sweeter, the cult classic ‘Back to the Future’ was screened!

We were delighted to see some amazing We Are Pop Up brands during the day. Check this delicious crew out! Want to collaborate with them? Click through and send a message via We Are Pop Up!

Want to get involved with the Artists & Fleas community? You can pop up at Artists & Fleas’ amazing pop-out space!

Snack to the Future
Especially Puglia
Snack to the Future
Tiny Kitchen Treats
Snack to the Future
Scone Alone
Snack to the Future
Phoebe’s Sourdough
Tiny Kitchen Treats
Tiny Kitchen Treats
Better IceCreamed
Better IceCreamed



That’s A Wrap: The Store(y)telling Gift Shop, NYC

Over the past two weeks, We Are Pop Up joined forces with Parasol Projects, Creative CNTRL and Retail Access to create and curate a flash gift shop in the Lower East Side. And the clincher? From ideation to populating the space, the crew behind this pop up executed it in a single week. Entitled “The Store(y)telling Giftshop” the activation featured 15 of New York’s freshest brands:

St. Ash Of Brooklyn, Proper Assembly, Martenero, Dirty Grl, March Caps, Thursday Finest, ETape, Hickies, Beltology, Lulu KrauseGemela, Loop De Loup, Baron Nahmias, Little Treats Brigadeiros and MDSolarSciences.

The gift shop was an exploration in real-time visual merchandising; the entire experience featured a selection of curated stories that tied every brand into their narratives. On the pop up’s second day, we hosted a panel discussion at Projective Space at Freemans, where all the operational crew and all of the involved designers met to discuss the future of creative retail, and how traditional retail models have evolved into something more meaningful, bespoke and engaging.

Check out photos, and drop us a line if this inspires you! And check out We Are Pop Up’s list of NYC brands and spaces

The pop up’s designers and operational team during the roundtable at Projective Space at Freemans.
Gift Shop
Inside The Store(y)telling Gift Shop!

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#CreativeRetail Celebration with OneGround Footwear at Seaport Studios

Last Monday evening, We Are Pop Up partnered with the ever-fresh OneGround Footwear to host a #CreativeRetail cocktail party at one of our favorite spaces here in NYC: Seaport Studios. We joined OneGround founder Eamon Walsh along with a great crew of NYC designers, artists and space owners all looking to elevate the retail experience.

The evening was peppered with special treats, including fabulous drink from our friends at VinePair. (Helpful hint: if you’re looking to impress the in-laws this holiday season, head over to VinePair’s site for some quick wine knowledge, bound to blow minds!)

And hey — Andre Williams of the New York Giants swung by! A OneGround Footwear lover, Williams joined the #CreativeRetail community for fine wine, fine company and fine shoes.








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Join Impact Hub NYC’s Impact Bazaar creative retail microshop for just $10 per day

Impact Hub Hero

This holiday season, we’re collaborating with our friends at miLES to create a creative retail microshop inside Impact Hub NYC’s Impact Bazaar. Impact Bazar is a live marketplace for the impact innovation ecosystem supported by Squarespace and in partnership with NYC Mayor’s Office of Tech + Innovation,, Thompson Reuters Foundation and 30+ other organizations.

Impact Bazaar 10day

Have a #SocialImpact brand?

From Nov 1-Dec 25, we’re curating a creative retail shop for social-impact brands. The opportunity is $10 per day and can be booked for the month of Nov, Dec or both. Join impact brands like Amisha Patel’s Catrinka and Kamla kids. In addition to joining Impact Bazaar’s retail, we’ll also invite you to lead presentations and workshops to tell your story.

Book here for November and December at Impact Bazaar.

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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.