The Pop Up Shop Phenomenom
Pop Up Shops, Guerilla Stores or whatever else you want to call them, temporary stores have become the latest thing in retail of late. From small brands finding a way into the market to large corporate brands creating hype, these stores have popped up, literally, all over the world over the last few years. The LA Times have today published an article examining the phenomenom, read below, or check here for more. Thanks to We are the Market for the heads up.
"Pop-up" or guerrilla shops have been lurking in the shadows of the world’s cities for the last few years.
Rei Kawakubo of fashion label Comme des Garcons is often credited with launching the concept five years ago, when she set up a temporary retail outlet in a dilapidated building in an unlikely neighborhood of Berlin.
The space was cleaned up — just enough — and equipped with rails of clothes, some design objects and a cash register. It was an instant success. Customers who found it felt they were in on something edgy, secret and slightly illicit.
Since then, the company has created a handful of 12-month shops in cities such as Beirut, The Hague and Vilnius, Lithuania, while other big brands including Uniqlo and Target have followed suit.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the idea is trickling through to other realms. Designers and design stores in particular are embracing this raw, low-tech approach as an antidote to homogenized, glossy stores and a way to create a sense of discovery and urgency among buyers.
"It’s about not knowing what to expect," says London design consultant Jacob Peres. "People seem to want something less finished, [and they] need a new destination to visit. What a great way to exhibit new work to a new audience."
There are practical considerations too, says Sean Sutcliffe, co-founder of British furniture company Benchmark, whose first temporary store, on London’s Brompton Road, was open until October.
"Benchmark primarily functions from its Berkshire farm shop base. We have a steady flow of business, but it’s a long way to come [from London]," he said. "A retail space in London [let us] bring our new collection to a wider audience. It was purely about trying something different without too much commitment."
Curator Libby Sellers, whose eponymous gallery featuring work from young British designers opened during the fall, says she thinks guerrilla stores are often the best way for fledgling retailers or gallerists such as herself to launch.
"Doing things organically is affordable," she said. "That also means I can find appropriate venues to suit specific pieces. Design lends itself to that."
Having sold several pieces and garnered plenty of media attention in London and Miami, Sellers believes the element of surprise — "a sense of visitors discovering something new" — is the key benefit of utilizing a temporary venue.
"The downside of this, particularly if showing internationally, is maintaining the brand or a following," she said. "That’s where a website becomes even more important, acting as a shop window while the real window is being redressed."
London seems to be a hub for pop-up activity. Aside from Benchmark’s shop and Sellers’ gallery, the city has seen a Hector Serrano-designed collaboration between Noel Hennessy and the Spanish Embassy, a pop-up from British retailer Greenwich Village in Covent Garden and art dealer Kenny Schachter’s private gallery.
Last month, curator and writer Janice Blackburn had a pop-up exhibition, "Small show, huge talent," in London’s Notting Hill. The space, a large house owned by architect Seth Stein, is ideal, Blackburn said.
"It’s such a brilliant opportunity to use a great modern space for a short time with no commitment or ongoing obligation. It’s great for independent people like me," she said. "I am not, nor ever wish to be, a dealer or have the aggravation of my own permanent gallery."
But the guerrilla movement is without question a global one. In China, pop-up retailing is quickly becoming an essential tool for the young experimental crowd as well as larger commercial brands looking for a new angle, said P.T. Black, the Shanghai partner of Jigsaw, a consumer research house.
"Rogue shows or pop-up spaces appear all the time now," he said. "Retail is still quite chaotic in China and therefore the smaller, less established designers and retailers setting up have a better chance."
The concept also has made its way to the U.S. In May, Tobias Wong, an artist and curator, and Gregory Krum, director of retail for the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, opened the Wrong Store for two months in New York. The compact shop — brimming with rare pieces from designers such as Fredrikson Stallard, Marcel Wanders, and Ineke Hans — didn’t offer anything for sale, but the look was more shop than exhibition space.
In Buenos Aires, Casa Decor predates even Comme des Garcons, having launched in 1985. The aim was for architects, designers, builders and even homeowners to experience new trends and technology.
At Design Miami in December, 60 international designers, architects and manufacturers moved into 50,000 square feet of space for five weeks to explore new design possibilities.
"Casa Decor is the ideal, direct way to speak to both industry and potential domestic clients," said Britain President Kersti Urvois said. "The concept has worked so well that we’re now opening in Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan and Belgium next year."