A Follow-up on Pop-ups- Popping Up in Interesting Ways

In early 2015, I wrote “The Evolution of Marketing & the Future Retail Model.”  It’s held up pretty well.  In describing that retail model, I hypothesized about how pop-ups might be used.

“Retail presence might be in pop up tents, in vans or trucks, on blankets at beaches, in a lift at a ski resort, in stores, in people’s houses. No location would be permanent. You might end up with 400 stores, but none of them would be in the same place for more than, maybe, a week. Your “stores” would be wherever your customers wanted them to be.  Maybe you announce where the stores are going to be. Maybe not. Maybe there are clues online.”

As far as I know, it hasn’t turned out that way yet.  But I never expect the future to be exactly the one I imagine. Or even close.

I haven’t been disappointed.  Here are a couple of articles highlighting what’s happening in the pop-up space.

The retail establishments highlighted in “10 Shops and Restaurants Made from Shipping Containers,” don’t all appear to be temporary.  But some of them are and they are certainly mostly mobile.  When I think of “pop-up” I think of flexibility and lower cost and risk.  But as you can see in this article, that can go way beyond a pop-up tent kind of installation.

Here’s another pop-up concept-kind of.  The article, “Pop Up Goes the Retail Scene as Store Vacancies Rise,” discusses how landlords, faced with empty retail space they haven’t been able to get a long term tenant for, are leasing that space, or part of it, for terms as short as a week.  As the article says, landlords are deciding that some money is better than no money.  Seems logical to me.

What will it mean to be a mall if your tenants change quickly?  I suppose any landlord would prefer a traditional long-term lease.  But if brands and products come and go in your mall, surprising (or disappointing) your visitors, why wouldn’t that be a good thing?  As malls look for retailers who offer experiences, and as customers looks for brands that are new and harder to find, perhaps there’s a benefit here.  I can imagine a retailer closing a mall store, but returning to that mall in a temporary store one or three or five times a year.  Assuming, of course, that the mall is still in business and generating enough traffic.

I admit I’m not clear how the finances would work for the mall owner, but as we look at the pace and extent of change in the retail model we can probably agree that we’re going to be surprised in how things work out.