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What Does it Take to Start a Pop-Up Store?

What does it take to start a pop-up store?

If there’s been one trend in retail worth paying attention to over the past few years, it’s the pop-up store. With retail space increasingly more expensive (not to mention leases of 10 years or more), launching a pop-up store provides many e-commerce entrepreneurs the chance to dip their feet into the brick-and-mortar world with little to no risk.

Because your store is temporary, you pay for rent just for a few days. You create a sense of urgency that forces people to check out what you’re selling, since they won’t be able to get their hands on it next week. And you can see whether investing into full-time brick-and-mortar operations might be financially viable.

But what does it really take to launch one of these pop-ups? They’re not as complex as you’d think.

Start by Setting Goals

It’s always a good idea in business to establish goals so you know why you’re trying something new and what you hope to get out of it. Pop-ups are no different. Why do you want to get into the pop-up world? Your answer might be:

  • To add a new revenue stream to existing operations
  • To test out entering a potential long-term retail market
  • To get rid of old inventory so you can launch new products
  • To educate your market about your product


Now that you know your reasons for wanting a pop-up shop, decide what you’d like to achieve. Be specific. If you want to boost revenue, define by how much. The more precise you are with your goals, the better you can assess how well you did after the event.

Find Space

There are pop-up store marketplaces like Republic Spaces that connect existing retailers that are interested in renting out their space with pop-up owners. Start here, but don’t limit yourself. You need to factor in the area of town you’re most likely to attract your demographic. That might not be in a strip mall on the edge of town.

You can also pitch retailers in your targeted area on the idea. You’ll fare better if you partner with a retailer who’s aligned with your own products (and who doesn’t compete). For example, if you want to sell your vegan cupcakes in a pop-up event, a coffee shop would be the ideal venue.

There are several options when it comes to the setup of the space you consider. Anything from taking up a corner of an existing shop to setting up in a parking lot to taking over a vacant space are all possibilities.

Get Your Tech Ready to Go

With a pop-up store, assume you’re starting from scratch in terms of setup. The retailer you’re working with may or may not provide Internet and electricity, so be sure to cover that in your contract. Next, focus on your point of sale system. There are plenty of options to choose from based on your needs. If you’re considering doing just one pop-up then a basic POS system may better suit you. However, if you plan to open up shop regularly, you can find options that come loaded with features.

What you will need is a point of sale system that will allow you to easily process credit cards on the go. If you’ve been operating as an online store only, you will want to contact your merchant card processing company to see if they offer a mobile card swiper you can affix to your phone or tablet.

Plan a Buzzworthy Event

Keep in mind that your pop-up shouldn’t be about selling your products only. Consider it a party that everyone wants to come to. You’ll want to provide plenty of appeal, from food and beverages to entertainment and giveaways.

Once you’ve got the event planned, invite the media, and give them plenty of warning so they can help you promote the event beforehand. Beef up your social media efforts, and make sure you’re following people in your community rather than nationwide so that your followers can support your pop-up.

Remember, people coming to your store is essential for its success, so brainstorm on how to get the maximum number of people interested. You can try some of these strategies:

  • Email existing customers in your town and invite them
  • Buy advertising in the local newspaper
  • Pitch local reporters to cover your story
  • Send out a well-written press release to local media
  • Spread the word on social media
  • Offer an appealing giveaway or gift with each purchase


Create Visual Appeal

As you set up your pop-up store, give lots of thought to how customers will see it. If you’re setting up in an existing retail store, you don’t want your shop to look crowded or be at the back of the store where nobody goes. Create displays to draw people in. Maybe you can put out free samples.

Energizing music is a must to keep people happy while browsing. If you’re offering food and drink, place a table off to the side so it doesn’t get in the way of people shopping.

After the Event

Once your pop-up event is over, assess the results. Did you achieve your goals? What’s next for you? Did the effort excite you about the potential of operating a full-time retail store? Or would you hold quarterly pop-up shops instead? Hopefully, the event gave you some insight (as well as fresh revenue) to help you take your business to new heights.


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Written by Kristian Rivera
Kristian Rivera is a digital marketing associate for Fit Small Business.
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