The history of the pop-up shop

For those precious few of you who don’t already know, a pop-up is a shop or restaurant that ‘pops up’ quickly, with a view to staying in that location for a limited amount of time.

The recent rise of the pop-up

Pop-ups can sell anything from tea and cakes to cocktails, and they’ve gained an impressive amount of popularity in recent years. Because pop-up’s “offer budding entrepreneurs a great opportunity to win more customers and publicise their brand,” they’ve become very popular with young, online and small business owners who want a way to sell their wares and generate hype fast.  

The fact that the shops are not supposed to stay in the same place for very long creates a sense of urgency in potential customers who might be interested in whatever the pop-up has to offer. They feel that they need to buy what the shop is selling today because it might not be there tomorrow.

The best pop-ups get people talking and leave a lasting impression”, due to the limited amount of time available for the shop to reach it’s target audience in that location. In the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, the popularity of pop-up shops reached its zenith, because they offered businesses the opportunity to make use of empty storage space, and to rely on their own creativity rather than the market’s stability (or lack thereof). And the low costs associated with renting a space for a limited amount of time didn’t necessarily do any harm either.

Big and small name brands have popped up

Plenty of household names are getting their start in pop-up shops these days. For example, Innocent Drinks were famously launched in a pop-up shop at a music festival. Bonobos, which was initially based solely online, made its physical retail debut in a pop-up. And Liam Gallagher’s Pretty Green fashion collection opened its first standalone store in the form of (you guessed it) a pop-up shop.

Now major retailers from Estee Lauder to GAP are capitalising on the pop-up trend by creating pop-ups of their own. In fact, according to CNBC, the pop-up industry is worth over £2 billion. And as “pop-up innovation is shaking up the retail market”, one can safely assume that the trend isn’t going to let up anytime soon. In fact, a recent study has found that nearly a third of new UK start-ups will be pop-ups.

Pop-up shops are a financially viable option for you if you’re looking to start/grow a business and make a name for yourself in your chosen field. You’ll also likely find yourself in a position to earn some decent capital on which to base a more permanent business location, if that’s what you’re aiming for in the future.