Retail has long been perceived as a stationary industry. Unless they were going out of business, stores were expected to stay in the same spot for years. However, a recent movement is changing this image. Now, businesses of all types are moving from space to space, coming and going as they please.
Pop-up shops, as they are known, have evolved into a niche market that lends itself to short-term retail space. Online businesses now have an easy way to occupy what was once a vacant storefront for a short period of time without cashing out. But what is driving this industry and why are consumers so receptive to this business model?
In partnership with Storefront, a booming San Francisco startup that makes finding short-term retail space easy, we will answer these questions as we discuss how pop-ups are changing the retail scene and helping communities thrive. This is the topic of The Grid’s next tweetchat, #thegrid.
A pop-up shop can occupy a space for up to several months or just one day. If this sounds inconceivable, watch this video and see how a storefront in the heart of San Francisco’s financial district transformed from a dull void into a bustling two-story lot, filled with customers looking for a suave suit.
This targeted, short-term approach reflects the nature of our culture. “We’re interested in the immediate and the next thing,” says Lizzie Wallack, the Project Architect for Proxy, a short-term project in San Francisco that rotates new businesses within renovated shipping containers. There is more to this business than serving a limited attention span, however.
Opening a store for a short amount of time is less risky for businesses, mostly because it is significantly cheaper. Entrepreneurs and online businesses are more willing to take the leap into offline retail because they know they will not crash and burn. As a result, neighborhoods have the benefit of engaging with a diversified retail scene.
When business owners have opportunities to succeed, communities can reap the rewards. Oakland is experiencing these benefits thanks to an initiative called POPUPHOOD. This movement gives local artists the chance to open up their own shop, rent free, for six months. It’s too early to tell whether this will be sustainable, but it is creating opportunity and activity nonetheless.
One of the six stores benefiting from Oakland's POPUPHOOD initiative
This industry may be under the umbrella of larger movement. The "sharing economy," as it is called, addresses a dilemma plaguing most people. There aren’t enough resources to go around. As a result, we are finding a way to share them.
There are numerous vacant stores around the US, but most people cannot open up their own store because it is too expensive. However, a lot more people can open a store for a couple of weeks. Rather than leaving these spaces empty to collect dust, we can activate them with retailers, clothing and unique products.
By sharing space, pop-up shops provide sellers with a chance to start something new. In turn, the sellers provide consumers with a destination. Vacant storefronts no longer have to be seen as a problem. Instead, they are an opportunity.
What pop-up shops are shaping your local community?
Join myself and Renee van Staveren from The Grid and Tristan Pollock from Storefront on September 18, 2013 at 3PM EDT/ 2PM CDT/ 12PM PDT/ 8PM BST/ 10PM EEST for our #thegrid tweetchat. The discussion will last an hour. We’ll be exploring the world of pop-ups and encourage you to join us. Simply login to Twitter and follow the #thegrid hashtag and include it in your tweets to join the discussion.