Shopping Spotlight. The Pop Up Shop Phenomenon

June 11, 2009 • Shopping

The collaborative pop up shop between Loius Vuitton and Comme des Garcons in Tokyo

A new wave of shopping has recently arrived, carrying with it an innovative philosophy. The formula of the pop up shop is simple: pair a limited amount of products with a limited amount of time it can be purchased, throw in a sleek space to showcase the wares and add a few freebies to the deal and viola!—a recession-proof sales technique that is quickly turning into a global trend.

The concept of a pop up shop has actually been around for some time. Shopping center owners have always held
specialty leasing departments that turn empty space into paying tenants
for a few months or rent out kiosk space. The fresh take on the temporary shops is through the
interactive, entertaining nature in which they cater to their clientele. Over the holidays last year retailers such as American Apparel provided artwork exhibits, games, and even karaoke machines in their temporary retail sites in and around New York. Companies provide free samples, have certain days catered, and offer many other perks that turn the pop up shops into a veritable free-for-all of customer-friendly services. And it works! 

Last winter, Wired magazine set up a temp space in a vacant storefront in SoHo to showcase some of its sponsors' electronics, targeting the techno-savvy crowd of the neighborhood. Actor Robin Williams reportedly was one of the first in the store;
singer Bjork soon followed. On any of the six weekends it was open, the
holiday store drew 1,000 visitors with an average of 300 per day during the week. Not bad for a vacant storefront!

The Wired Magazine pop up shop in NYC

Pop ups shops have been making headlines since back in 2004 when Target set up one if the first to introduce Isaac Mizrahi's new fashion design for women. The discount
chain opened a 1,500-square-foot pop-up in Rockefeller Center and in the five years since, has been opening up temporary shops all over the country, many for seasonal themes. Even before that, denim giant Levi's set up shop for six weeks in a New York City loft in 1999.

Another pop up pioneer, Comme des Garcons, was the first high end label to feature limited edition collections in temporary stores. In 2004, the Japanese line debuted it's first Guerilla Store in Berlin, which carried a sparse selection of items and only stayed open for a year. Due to the wild popularity of the line, chief designer Rei Kawakubo continued to evolve the guerilla line and has recently released it's newest version, Black Comme des Garcons, which has been set up in department stores in Tokyo and will debut in pop up shops in Paris and New York at the end of this month. Since Comme des Garcon's initial temporary shop, other luxe labels have followed suit. Louis Vuitton teamed up with Comme des Garcons to create a temporary shop in Tokyo that featured the two labels together. Other houses including Chanel and Hermes seemingly agree with the theory that pop up shops provide, which is to increase the value of a product by making it available for only a limited time. All three labels have played around with temporary stores in various markets like Moscow, Tokyo, and New York, and usually only feature a select number of their products in order to give their clientele a small but tempting taste of what their actual boutiques carry.

Comme des Garcons' original pop up shop in Berlin, 2004

So far the pop up shop phenomenon has only been expanding and it's not difficult to see why. Linda Berman, vice president of strategic
brand development for Caruso Affiliated Holdings explains the appeal as,“Pop-up shops present something that has never been seen before, and
then they're gone. The now-you-see-it,
now-you-don't factor lends the operation an air of inherent
excitement.” More and more retailers seemingly agree as they jump onto the bandwagon of a marketing trend that, ironically, will probably be around for quite awhile.


Some looks from the new Black Comme des Garcons collection

Article Sources: WWD, retailtraffic
Photo Sources: wordpress, newyorkology, racked, WWD

-Alia Rajput

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