The Fast Lane

A new concept in retail is popping up all over.
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This story appears in the January 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Don't wait too long to visit one of Russell Miller's stores. It probably won't be around for long. Miller, 36, is the founder of Vacant, a leader of the "here today, gone tomorrow" pop-up retail craze. His 4-year-old, four-person company opens "guerrilla stores" in cities around the world for anywhere from two weeks to a month or so, hawking hard-to-find items ranging from apparel to action figures.

"We search all over the world for the unusual to bring to our stores," explains Miller, whose business has grown 60 percent during the past year. "We work with emerging brands as well as big manufacturers, but we help them come up with unique stuff. And we don't tell people until a few days before we open."

Cindy Smith, vice president of The EGC Group, a marketing and advertising firm in Hicksville, New York, says the pop-up retail concept can easily translate to smaller retailers as a way to make a splash in a new market or create seasonal sales boosts.

Can't afford short-term space? Smith suggests taking 20 killer items and renting a kiosk at a local mall or even at a festival that attracts a lot of people. She also recommends publicizing a bit more aggressively than Vacant does: "Be sure that you're in a high-traffic location, or be sure to spend the money to let people know you're there and doing something different."

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