Here Today, Gone Tomorrow: Urban Pop-Up Shops

What are pop-up stores and why should you take notice of them in your city

By: Julienne Bay, Staff Writer

Book sale on city streets

Image courtesy of Across & Down via Flickr

Ever walk down the street and notice flyers for the next pop-up shop, bar or eatery? They seem to be everywhere around the city, and they show no signs of slowing down.

We’re talking about pop-up shops: temporary retail “gigs”. They may be open anywhere from a few hours to a few months. They may focus on one particular label or sell items made by a collective team of artists/designers. The idea of a temporary shop isn’t all that new. Just think about the Halloween and Christmas shops that we see each year.

So, what’s the buzz?

“It’s more exciting,” says Jebril “Fresh” Jalloh, the owner of Get Fresh Company. “It’s something new [for the customers], only available for limited time.”

Get Fresh Company is located at 498 Queen St. W. in the very hip, urban corner of Bathurst St. and Queen St. W of Toronto. Although it is a permanent store, Jalloh hosts series of pop-up events that represent a particular label. Just last April, Jalloh hosted a pop-up shop event for “Raised by the Wolves,” a Canadian streetwear collection.

“The brand gets a lot of exposure, a lot of hype promoted through a bunch of different channels, so a lot of people will know about the brand,” says Jalloh. “The only disadvantage is that people can’t come every day to buy your stuff…but if you’re smart about it, you’ll promote your online store at the pop-up shop.”

These shops are also for individual artists and designers, who simply want to show off their community’s creativity. City of Crafts, a group consisting of several artists, rent store space in Toronto each year to sell all things local and handmade. For those that want to buy unique items, things sold in pop-up shops will likely be hard to find again once the doors close. For most of these items, there are no labels, brands or even online shops.

“This is kind of a one-time thing for a lot of people,” says Rosalyn Faustino, a participating artist. “A lot of times, the people don’t normally sell [their items] in shops… As for me, I’ve only done maybe two pop up shops, and I don’t sell anywhere.”

And consumers agree that pop-up shops provide shopping experience that’s quite different from that of big box stores.

[pullquote]“It’s something new for the customers, only available for limited time.”[/pullquote]

“It allows you to have something unique,” says Julie Song, a university student from Toronto. “Not only is it a novelty in a sense, I think it allows people to be a part of what’s in and what’s not.”

Pop-up shops also provide opportunities for business owners to test their consumer market before fully committing to a permanent store.

“There are also people with good ideas, with little money, so they want to test it,” says Gay Stephenson, a landlady who has rented out her store space in the Danforth area to pop-up shops in the past. “And for those with online stores, it’s great to have opportunity to have a real store.”

Sauvage, a stylish boutique shop located at 644 Queen St.W. Toronto, did a bit of research for six months with a pop-up location in March 2012, before setting up a permanent location.

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