Pop-Up Retail: Just What Your Business Needs


Are you racking your brains to come up with a fresh and exciting idea to boost your business? There’s a way to turn your brand into something more attractive and intriguing while making your business look like the next big thing. A pop-up store is a short-term solution that could yield long-term results.

Although pop-up businesses are only temporary, it is an effective and incredibly successful industry valued at $50 billion in 2016 and growing. Pop-up retailers are usually seasonal or coincide with an event, festival, or holiday. Spirit Halloween, for example, reappears in empty outlet stores to sell costumes and decorations just before Halloween. And just as soon as it arrives, it disappears. Its very nature creates a feeling of urgency for customers to buy quickly before they miss out on their chance.

Another advantage of pop-up retail is that it’s a great way to test the waters of a certain demographic or region. Take a predominantly American company like In-N-Out Burger that opened a pop-up store in downtown Toronto in 2014. Opened on a Thursday during a 4-hour window, the pop-up attracted a giant crowd, some arriving as early as 6:45 in the morning for a claim on their spot. Despite the tremendous response and seeming demand for the California chain, In-N-Out Burger has yet to open a permanent location in the city. Cautiousness could work in the company’s favour, however, because since then both Target and Carl’s Jr. have announced closures across Toronto and all of Canada.

Although both Target and Carl’s Jr. both skipped pop-up stores to gauge consumer reactions, it’s most likely not the direct link of their failure in Canada. But with how the pop up-retail industry is evolving, there’s no reason for an up-and-coming business to forego the opportunities it provides.

Traditionally, a pop-up-retail would search out a vacant spot to set up shop. Now, shopping centers are entering the fray, drawing customers through the prospect of pop-up retails. Yorkdale Mall, one of the higher-end shopping centers in Toronto, introduced CONCEPT to shoppers in late 2017. It’s a 3,600 square-foot space that showcases trendy businesses or designers with a lot of buzz. Within its first month, both Uncle Tetsu’s Japanese Cheesecake and Eva’s Original Chimneys (ice cream shop) made a tremendous impact. The result helped elevate both eateries with Uncle Tetsu’s finding a dedicated Canadian client base, and Eva’s boosting their business from strictly food truck eatery to several shops across the Toronto area.

More malls across Canada are adopting the pop-up retail, coordinating temporary leases in creative ways. Linda Farha, founder of online pop-up retail platform, pop-up go, connects landlords with hopeful retailers. She says, “Demand has never been so great for pop-up space in Canada… landlords are seeing this as a strategy to build buzz, and retailers are utilizing it to further expand distribution and exposure.”

Whether your business needs the exposure or is just looking to take that next big step, a venture into the pop-up retail foray may be just what you need. Not only are customers eager to experience new and exciting businesses, but landlords and shopping centres are looking for what else they can introduce to their clientele.


Alex Correa | Staff Writer



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