Have you noticed how pop-up shops have literally been “popping” up everywhere? According to research by Storefront, a marketplace for short-term retail spaces, the temporary retail (i.e. pop-up) industry is expected to generate $80 billion per year.

From streetwear brands to influencer collaborations, pop-up events provide an exciting way for online retailers to connect with customers face-to-face. Additionally, they allow you to test out new markets and receive direct feedback to make any necessary changes with inventory moving forward.

That said, if you’re going to do it—do it right. A pop-up shop is the perfect opportunity to find an Instagrammable moment for your audience, which can catapult social and word of mouth awareness. From concept to creation, they require a significant time commitment and a decent amount of upfront costs, however, the return will be well worth it. Businesses have consistently found that pop-up shops are cost-effective in the end, and way less expensive than a traditional brick-and-mortar location.  

Here are five innovative ideas your brand can emulate, once you have a little revenue in the bank:

1. Curiosity and the AR Experience

Tokyo-based multidisciplinary studio Curiosity recently unveiled their brick-and-mortar concept for streetwear brand Hipanda. It uses augmented reality visuals with stark black-and-white decor to highlight the clothing in the collection. The displays have a mirror and digital component that change to show the pieces in motion, blurring the lines between the presentation and reality.

Takeaway: Augmented/virtual reality does not come cheap, but if you have the extra chunk of change for your event and want to create a truly unique experience for your customers, check out custom VR companies like VirtualRealityRental.co and 360 Labs.

2. Birchbox Brings Perks on the Road

Online beauty subscription box company Birchbox utilized the pop-up concept before opening their first brick-and-mortar store in New York City. The retailer went on a national tour with pop-ups in Walgreens stores around the country. Birchbox incentivized customers to come check out their pop-up tour by offering special perks, like on-site manicures and astrology readings.

Takeaway: While partnering with a massive retailer like Walgreens isn’t an option for most small businesses, collaborating with a local store for a pop-up section in their space can be a great way to build community connections and find potential customers. You can even offer pop-up exclusive perks to incentivize consumers to seek you out. Try thinking of ideas that involve things like teaming up with a local coffee brewer to offer lattes, adding in a branded photo booth, or bringing in your favorite local henna artist to help draw in the crowds.

3. Stussy Sells Nostalgia

In October 2018, streetwear titan Stussy announced a weekend pop-up in NYC, featuring archival and deadstock rare finds at major sale prices. Fans had three days to grab pieces from past collections and collaborations, as well as shop new releases, which were unveiled each day.

Takeaway: For an affordable, yet enticing pop-up, consider bringing back popular styles that are no longer available, selling items at a generous discount, or introducing pop-up exclusive designs to entice customers and create a sense of urgency for your event.

4. Needs & Wants Studios Ditches the Shop

While the idea of the pop-up shop is to get your product into a physical location, there’s no rule stating that the shop has to be in a traditional storefront. Toronto online sportswear retailer Needs & Wants Studios opted for a redesigned shipping container as their pop-up venue.

Takeaway: Think outside the box when choosing your venue. How about an ice cream shop, airstream trailer or art gallery? Pair up with a local event planner to find interesting and unique venues in your area. Check out Yelp or event planning sites like GigMasters to find the best local event planners.

5. Adidas Goes Bespoke

At an adidas pop-up shop in Berlin titled Knit For You, the customer was the designer. With the help of full-body scanners and automatic knitting machines, customers had the opportunity to design their own custom sweaters. The design process began with pop-up shoppers stepping into a sensor-filled room that projected pattern options onto their shirts. Designs could be changed or selected with the swipe of a hand. With a push of a “print” button, the sweater was knitted on-site. The result is a shopping experience as unique as each customer’s bespoke sweater.

Takeaway: While full body scanners and automatic knitting machines may be out of budget, consider other ways to create bespoke pieces and a memorable pop-up experience. Set up a custom embroidery station to add names on purchased items or invest in an instant, portable hand jet printer for customizable, on-the-spot t-shirt printing.

Now that you’ve got some ideas to get your creative juices flowing, make sure to add unique elements that make your pop-up shop feel exclusive to your brand.


Stock up on all the essentials you’ll need for your own pop-up shop at S&S Activewear.

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