The Pop Up – Where art & design seduce the consumer

Remember how the firework shop would ‘pop up’ close to Guy Fawkes night, or the Christmas shop would appear from September gleaming with every colour of tinsel? Most of these shops would occupy an empty shop in a high street with very little effort, with boxes of stock left for the consumer to rummage through, and there certainly not be any effort in the display of goods.

However for a short period of time consumers would head to these stores and buy what they needed, even up to the very last minute, and within days the shutters would be back down and so long for another year.

Well, take this concept, jazz it up significantly, add in a luxury brand, the hint of a well-known designer, even the word vintage, and Tweet the word through the world of social media, and you have a very on-trend pop up store.

The UK Summer heralds the rise of the pop up for retailers and restaurants, often strategically and uniquely placed  – and what a fabulous idea. It means lower overheads for the business owner with visitors flocking to see you for a limited time, and usually with a lot of fanfare behind it.  It can even be considered a temporary art installation.

The Pop up can mean that a brand or label can occupy an existing shop space in a street or shopping mall, or like illy coffee can have a bespoke fold out (or literally pop out) store that travels to festivals, or streets with guaranteed high foot-fall.

For the pop up restaurant it is all about choosing a unusual location such as a roof top for barbeques or open ovens. Guests want to and expect to eat outdoors for the limited time that the UK gets a summer.  Sometimes it is a well-known chef who will relocate temporarily to cater for the masses.

Tom Aitkins’ has popped up at Somerset House, and the very colourful Dishoom Bombay Café & Chowpatty Bar will occupy a space on London’s cool Southbank, to name just a mere couple. Chef’s will experiment with their menus keeping everything fresh and seasonal – and this concept lets them get away with being as creative and sociable as possible. 

Chefs seem to be in the jolliest of moods, and the food is sometimes even cooked unconventionally. Take the Energy Café set up by Ella Gibbs and Amy Plant who source food within a six-mile only radius of where they set up . It is cooked using an experimental off-grid energy source – www.energycafe.wordpress.com

We are living in a world of Blackberries and Smart phones, streamlining our time, and instant messages. Companies will try and get our attention creating a sense of urgency for us to get along to these pop up stalls to try on clothes, shoes, try out new products – and buy before it is all gone.

At a time when more and more retail doors are closing in high streets of smaller towns here in the UK, perhaps the advent of the pop up store is the new way to run your business without being tied into long-term lease.  An air of exclusivity is what sells a product or concept. Most pop up stores rely on word of mouth and social networking which keeps an air of exclusivity.

Businesses will open a pop up store to create a buzz of excitement about a new product. Consumers ultimately get caught up in the hype and will spend. After a limited time, the store will close and those behind the brands and products will have spent very little money in comparison to having a permanent location.

The pop up store has seen the likes of high street brands such as GAP, H&M and NIKE take advantage of the ‘for a limited time only’ hype. More exclusive brands are also benefitting from this concept in order to launch new season products. Such brands include Louis Vuitton, Stella McCartney who partnered with GAP, Liberty of London, and more. In 2009, even Ebay jumped on the pop up trend and opened a ‘concept’ store in New York. Customers were allowed to use portable tablets and internet kiosks to buy from the entire Ebay site.

Pop up stores offer a lot of benefits to a business offering a low-cost option for retailers and designers, but at the same time must be approached with the same business strategy that you would a permanent store. The visual tactics employed by high end brands and independent labels is incredible. Colour, props, artwork and other interior design concepts are brought together to draw in the consumer.

Some memorable pop ups are:
eBay concept store in NY – it was a cluttered as its online site
Stella McCartney created by London designer Giles Miller
Wall of shoes in the Nike concept store
Hermes opened up a temporary silk bar in a transport container
Reebok opened a one-month store called FLASH in NY in a contemporary art gallery occupying a 3,000 foot space. Each week the store would change the clothing and shoe range

Dishoom brings Bombay’s famous Chowpatty Beach to the South Bank of London for a summer party

When?
May 13th – Oct 4th
Monday – Friday: Noon ’til late
Saturday – Sunday: 10am ’til late
Just walk in – no reservations

Where?
Dishoom Chowpatty Beach,
Queen Elizabeth Hall Terrace,
Southbank Centre,
Belvedere Road,
London SE1 8XX

Nearest tube – Waterloo or Embankment

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