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Why Now's the Time to Open a Pop-Up Store

why-nows-the-time-to-open-a-pop-up-store.jpgPop-up stores are popping up everywhere. All the big brands are into them -- Pop Tarts opened up a Pop Tarts World pop-up in New York City's Times Square earlier this month. Gap hit SoHo with a pop-up store for its Piperlime brand that was slated to stay up just 25 days during Fashion Week. For its part, Pita Pit brashly camped its pop-up restaurant in front of Fox News' New York headquarters for a month, landing more press and attracting record numbers of new-franchisee applications. Pop-Up stores are so hot that some retail advisors now specialize in designing and creating them.

These big retailers are onto something smaller retailers can take advantage of, too. Here's why now is a great time to open a pop-up store: Empty space. There is an unprecedented amount of open retail space right now. Make a landlord an offer and they'll probably jump at it.

Low risk. With a pop-up, you can get a lease for a couple of months, or month-to-month. It's not a big commitment. Why, a couple of Northeastern University undergrads recently opened a pop-up store in Boston, The Concrete Jungle, to sell a new clothing line, AnnieMulz, which they created in their dorm room. 

Holidays loom. Those landlords want full shops for the prime holiday season. Many stuff empty slots with pop-ups even in good times. A small shop you might operate in just November and December could add to your holiday sales without creating an ongoing overhead expense.

A chance to experiment. Temporary stores are a great way to tinker with your offerings. You can order a small amount of stock and see if it sells without spending too much. 

Build awareness. As the Pita Pit experiment showed, storefronts are a form of advertising. Find a shop space at a prominent intersection, near a busy transportation hub, or in a busy mall, and get your name in front of hundreds of potential new customers.

Benefit from flexibility. When you open a pop-up, there are no expectations. Open the doors on Friday only, or only for the first week of the month, or only on weekends. Be open four hours a day. You can make your own rules here, and experiment. If your ideas work, they could be used in your permanent stores, too.

Have you opened a pop-up store, or are you planning one? Leave us a note and tell us about it.

Carol Tice, a freelance writer, is chief executive of TiceWrites Inc. in Bainbridge Island, Wash. She blogs about freelance writing at Make a Living Writing. Email her at carol@caroltice.com.

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