Shop fitting on a budget: Cheap ideas for your pop up shop

Opening a new retail store is an exciting process, but one that traditionally requires a big budget and a large commitment. The pop up shop concept allows almost anyone with an idea and a modest budget to open their own store and test an idea quickly.

001-Fashion-ShopSetting up a shop is not without its challenges, and our guide has been put together to help first timers set up a store and achieve a great result with minimal cost.

The ideas below should give you inspiration to get out there and create something in the physical world.

1. Create an achievable concept. Look at your brand and identify its unique selling points. Select the strongest aspects of your brand that can be easily re-created or applied to a physical space. Keep it simple. Simple concepts are easy to identify, easy to execute and easy for your customers to understand. A complex, high-end concept will be not only expensive, but time consuming to fit out. A concept that is simple and direct can be just as effective at getting your message across.

2. Your product. Can you make use of your packaging or any existing marketing materials you might already have? Repetition of your product, flyers, or posters can be effective at creating impact in your store. Some of the largest brands around use their empty boxes, bottles or containers to cheaply add visual interest and texture to their stores.

001-Wood-Pallets3. Recycled materials. The use of recycled materials can be very affordable or even free. Timber is a versatile building material and can be salvaged from a number of places. Try old pallets, shipping crates or scaffolding. Once you know what you are looking to create, you can be selective as to what you look for. Ebay and Gumtree can be a great source of a range of raw materials, from timber to tiles.

001-Piano4. Borrow from yourself. Do you have the perfect table or bookcase that can be used for a short time in your pop up shop? Have any of your family or friends any unused furniture or ornamental artwork that would suit perfectly? Don’t be afraid to ask: most people are flattered to hear you would like to borrow an item for use in your shop! Take care of any items you borrow and protect pieces from damage in the retail space.

5. Local artists. There are artists and creators everywhere. Is there anyone in your area doing great work that would look good in your shop? You can give an artist great exposure by showing their work, and at the same time enhance the experience for your customers. Make sure you credit the source of any artwork in your shop, and that it fits your concept.

6. Create relationships. You are now part of a retail community, a tight knit group of people who work alongside each other. Go out and meet your neighbours; tell them what you are doing. Explain your vision and create connections with other local people and businesses. Is there a printer that will print your flyers in exchange for a discount at your shop? Is there a local builder that can do some work for you? If you are trading services, make sure that the terms or your arrangement are clear and that there is a positive outcome for both parties. And remember to spread the word – when you do well, the local community does well.

Guest Blogger: Jared Maddern is an Industrial Designer working for RoomOne Design in London, a Retail Design company that designs and manufactures retail units and shop fitting solutions throughout the UK and Europe. To discuss retail design, strategy and shop fitting, contact Jared at

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The UK’s strangest pop ups

Ever wondered whether there’s an audience for your pop-up? Don’t worry – if nudist cafes and knitted corner shops can draw a crowd, so can you. Here are some of the quirkiest pop ups we’ve ever heard of. See if you can find some inspiration!

Clothes are optional at The Bunyadi pop up restaurant

Clothes are optional at The Bunyadi pop up restaurant.

The Bunyadi…London recently got its very own “clothes-optional” restaurant. The Bunyadi opened in June on a first-come first-served basis – and the current number of applications is over 45,000 people. The restaurant itself is split into two sections: “clothed” and “pure” – although why anybody would go to a nudist restaurant to dine fully covered is beyond us (thankfully, phones are banned inside the premises). Perhaps most worryingly, the food is prepared on a wood-flame grill…

London's first water-only bar

London’s water-only bar, raising awareness for RNLI.

H2Only…Last year, Shoreditch saw the opening of H2Only, a pop-up bar serving tap water and nothing else. Reception was mixed, as you might expect, but the bar was for a good cause: the franchise was part of a scheme to raise awareness of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) by encouraging people to save money on expensive drinks, drink more tap water, and donate the savings.

All products on sale here were hand-stitched in felt.

All products on sale here were hand-stitched in felt.

The Cornershop… The Cornershop was the brainchild of artist and creator Lucy Sparrow, crowdfunded on Kickstarter and created over seven months. It was, in essence, a normal grocery store – but every single thing in it, from the cat food to the magazines, was hand-stitched in felt. When asked why she created the project, Sparrow said “’I’ve always made big things. I like coming up with huge projects where the result is bigger than me and it takes over my life. I’m very obsessive and I want that to come across in the work and get people thinking “Who would be crazy enough to do this?”

A pop up adventure, with domestic-themed rooms.

A pop up adventure, with domestic-themed rooms.

Keeping Up With the Joneses…A bizarrely silly, playful pop-up adventure awaited London’s excited event-goers recently; Keeping Up With the Joneses was spread across seven “domestic-themed” rooms, featuring surprises like detergent bottles filled with champagne in the bathroom, ongoing pillow fights in the bedroom, and an entire room dedicated to one giant dishwasher. It lasted just three days, during which time hundreds of visitors were guided through in groups and delivered to the garden bar to party the whole night through.

In a private pop up restaurant, hosts open their own homes to guests.

In a private pop up restaurant, hosts open their own homes to guests.

Private dining…Perhaps the strangest trend we’ve seen so far is the The private pop-up restaurant, in which people open up their own homes for an evening or two and turn their houses into restaurants. It’s much like a dinner party, but this way at least, the hosts can charge a handsome price. If you’re ever worried that you’re not offering your customers enough, remember that somewhere in South London is somebody who’s paid £30 to eat their dinner in somebody else’s living room!

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It’s all gone a bit pop up golf!

Crazy Golf is hitting the big time, with two adults only indoor courses opening up soon. In Manchester a pop up Junkyard Golf Club is set to open, while early next year in London a permanent location will open to home Swingers in an incredible venue – a World War II bunker under the city, between St Mary Axe and Bury Street.

Swingers Pop Up Crazy Golf Course

Swingers Pop Up Crazy Golf Course

The bar at Swingers Pop Up Golf Course

The bar at Swingers Pop Up Golf Course

The Junkyard Golf Club opens for business from the 24th November to the 6th December. Dreamt up by Bart Murphy, the founder of B.Eat Street a popular street dining space, the course will fill a  large venue in Great Northern.

Junkyard pop up crazy golf

Junkyard pop up crazy golf

More junk, more golf

More junk, more golf

Murphy said “I have been accumulating junk in my garage for a few months and now I am building a crazy junkyard golf course with it. I think it’s safe to say crazy golf just got a bit weird and boozy.”

Three holes are already built, made from a collection of teapots, treadmills, weights and inflatable toys.

Tickets go on sale on November 4 at 6pm, priced at £6 per person. The course can be played in pairs or groups of four, six and eight.

On the other side of the pond, and on a much larger scale The San Diego Padres officially announced their intention to set up a pop-up nine-hole golf experience called The Links, with players hitting onto the playing field from various tees set up around the stadium.

San Diego's pop up golf course

San Diego’s pop up golf course

Well… roll up roll up and join the 1,500 golfers who will be teeing it up during the five-day event. The public’s response has been amazing, proving that a little outside-the-clubhouse thinking can go a long way. Tee times for the originally planned three-day event sold out in two hours, forcing the organisers to extend to five days, with tee times running from 7am to 9pm.

Padres team President & CEO Mike Dee was fairly taken aback by the response: “It surprised me I have to say. I thought it would be popular but it’s taken off so well I will now be surprised if it’s something people won’t want to do more than once. We hope to deliver this every year. It’s cool”.

So if your fairways are too soggy to play this weekend, go find an indoor pop up golf experience to get your weekly fix.

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Using pop up shops as part of a big campaign

Earlier this year Nestle took over a small coffee shop in Lower East Side, New York serving free coffee to customers to push the Coffee-Mate creamer. “Nothing new there”, I hear you say, except the barristers were wearing nothing but body paint: yes, totally starkers, not even under-crackers! Additional actors and models in body paint were sat amongst the regular customers having a coffee. In the buff – as you do!

It wasn’t so much the pop up café that made the headlines, but the resulting advertisement which has gone viral since being released last week.  Hits on their Facebook page have increased by almost 50% and the advert has been picked up by the media and viewed many times on YouTube.

There is a growing trend for large companies to use pop up shops to support sales and marketing campaigns. This summer clothing retailer H&M held a six week residency in The Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane to publicise their Divided Collection. Customers could shop the collection in a fun way, with the store laying on rotating DJ’s every day and a music pod for the playlists to be accessed.

H&M Pop Up Shop in Brick Lane

H&M Pop Up Shop in Brick Lane

American brand Aden + Anais, which sells muslin blankets, bibs and sleepwear for babies, launched its Night Sky range with a pop up shop within Harrods. Aden + Anais muslins adorn pretty much every celebrity baby born these days – Prince George was taken home from hospital wrapped in one of their blankets, and they are worn by everyone from Gwen Steffani to Beyonce’s children, but they don’t have a UK store, so the pop up shop in Harrods is massively important to their product campaigns.

Aden + Anais Pop Up Shop within Harrods

Aden + Anais Pop Up Shop within Harrods

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The pop up economy is all around us

The pop-up economy is all around us now, and it’s no longer limited to shops and restaurants. Recently on our blog we have talked about pop-up opera tours, pop-up hot tub cinema nights and even pop-up pig petting!!

There are now an estimated 10,000 pop-up retail businesses around the UK and with over 26,000 people employed in the pop-up industry. Established high street retailers are using pop ups to test and expand into new locations and to pre-promote new openings, and new businesses are opening without the stress and expense of taking on a long term lease.


What was, for a while, viewed as a fad a has now turned into a support system for the UK’s changing high streets.  Pop ups are a massively important part of the commercial property industry now – worth £2.3bn to Britain’s economy, according to a new report commissioned by digital communications company EE and carried out by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR). The report showed that the sector achieved 12.3% more revenue this year compared to 8.4% in 2014.


There is around a third more shopping space in the UK than is needed by retailers, and these spaces need to be filled. ‘Pop Up The High Street’ is a project in Torbay Town Centre aimed at new businesses, or those without a physical presence on the high street, that would like the chance to experience what it takes to become a successful retailer.


Liz Edwards, Torbay Development Agency Business Advisor, said: “Pop up shops have taken towns and cities by storm and it is great that Torbay is part of this. Our aim is for the Pop Up The High Street to play its part in helping businesses in Torbay grow by providing them with a retail space to showcase their products and free business support throughout their tenancy. Businesses can try out the shop for between 2-6 weeks, all for just £30 a week.”

So, what does it take to set up a pop-up? The biggest advantage of the pop-up economy is that it lowers the entry barriers to starting your own retail business – all that’s needed is a good idea and copious amounts of energy. You don’t need huge sums of money to take on a long lease, or a high spend marketing campaign to support your opening.


One of the key things you do need, though, is the perfect location and that’s where Popupspace can help, proactively find the right space for you based on your requirements. We also negotiate space hire on your behalf – taking all the hard work of lease negotiations away from you.


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Stuck in London this summer? Here’s the perfect pop up solution

Stuck in London for the summer? Can’t get to the beach? Never mind, Camden Beach is back at The Roundhouse until 23rd August, and we can’t think of a better pop up to visit to catch some summer vibes.


The Roundhouse has filled its terrace with 150 tonnes of white sand, classic striped deckchairs, ping pong, a tiki bar and food courtesy of Fishy Business, a pop up restaurant serving delicious fresh fish in proper seaside style. Also home to the all important beach bars – Rum Shack-A-Lack and Stoli Lemonade Van – Camden Beach should be an experience to remember.


If you like the VIP lifestyle there are some adorable beach huts for hire, which hold up to eight people, have cushioned seating and your own little private beach area! With a fridge full of booze included, and personal waiter service to the hut, rock and popcorn and fish and chips for dinner, we think we might stay all week!

The opening times are 5pm – 11pm (Monday and Tuesday) and 12pm – 11pm (Wednesday to Sunday)

For further details, go to:

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Pop up opera – a perfect summer’s evening

With the balmy summer evenings finally here, we can’t think of a nicer thing to do than take in an opera performed in a beautiful pop up space. Pop-up Opera are back for 2015 with L’Italiana in Algeri (The Italian Girl in Algiers). The opera is best described as “Rossini meets Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, against a backdrop of glitz and grit at the Algiers Hotel, Nevada”.

The venues are not your average pop up shop venues – the spaces have been chosen to compliment the evenings perfectly, and range from a beautiful country barn in Ross on Wye to the Stour Space in Hackney.



Pop Up Opera promise to make opera entertaining, without compromising quality – all operas are performed in their original language. The operas are skilfully adapted to each individual venue, making every performance unique.

For dates, venue details and prices visit

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Hot tubs and cult films, pop up style? Yes please!

A hot tub – one of the best ways to relax. A cult movie – bring it on; but the two together? A match made in heaven!

Copyright_Hot Tub Cinema Indoor wide shot

The ‘Tub Tropicana Tour’ from the Hot Tub Cinema crew is back again this year and looks to be another popular event for them.  We think it’s a brilliant pop up idea, which was launched in 2006 as a private party for friends in Exeter and turned into a regular public event with the first in Hackney in 2012. Hot Tub Cinema have since had successful shows in London, New York and Ibiza and this year’s tour will cover six UK cities and one major European city.

Hot Tub Cinema

Each tub holds six people and has its own tub waiter to bring you whatever you want from the bar, and popcorn too!

The pop up venues are great too – in London (May 6th – 10th) they are taking over the former Shoreditch Underground Station, just off Brick Lane, which was closed in 2006 and auctioned by Transport for London in February 2011, renovated and converted into a fabulous 300 square meter arts and events space. Bristol’s venue (29th May – 2nd June) is Paintworks, a thriving artistic community in buildings developed from the derelict remains of a former paint factory.  More venues will be announced soon.

The films have been chosen with fun in mind and Pretty Woman, Grease, Top Gun, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Rocky Horror Show are our top picks.

Tickets are booked through the website

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Up for a pop up pignic?

Micro-pigs (or teacup pigs as they are better known) are the on trend pet to covet at the moment – although there have been many stories of people thinking they have bought one of these little bundles of joy, only to find that they have been duped, and their perfect little piglet has grown to an enormous size!

micro pig image

Yelp and Pet Piggies have come up with a brilliant pop up idea for micro-pig education and fun at London’s first ‘Pop-Up Pignic’. The event provides visitors with a hands-on evening of information on looking after micro-pets, in the hope that fewer animals will be abandoned in the future. The London Pignic will be a themed event including a curated picnic, a pig-themed cocktail masterclass, and a pig film at the end of the evening. The evening will also raise money for animal welfare charities.

The dates for the Pop-Up Pignics are 21 & 22 May 22 (6-10pm) and 23 – 25 May (2-6pm).

The venue is The Proud Archivist, Hertford Road, N1 – a fantastic setting on the banks of Regents Canal.

Tickets for the events are to be allocated by ballot on 14th May and all you have to do is RSVP to Yelp on the link below: 

And if you miss out on a ticket you can see the pigs in their pen through a giant window on Regents Canal at any time during the five days.

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A pop up for the kids

Ever had a nightmare taking the kids out for something to eat? This weekend there is a fabulous pop up theatre event taking place in Camden Lock, London, especially for youngsters. Brought to you by A Line Art and Oxford Playhouse, Ready Steady Colour is a make-believe restaurant where aspiring young foodies can go to play.  All they need to do is to grab a table, choose their ‘food’ and then colour it in!


The setting is a pop up restaurant, and the guests are your children.  They order a plate of black and white ‘food’ then let their imaginations take over, whilst being served helpings of glittery ketchup paint and yellow mustard paint, all the while being entertained by the servers with comedy, music and storytelling.


Ready Steady Colour will be run like a real restaurant and you can book a table in advance, or simply walk in off the street. Opening times are:

20th March   10.00am      1.30pm        4.00pm

21st March   11.00am      1.00pm        300pm

22nd March  11.00am      1.00pm        3.00pm

Tickets can be booked through—Camden/Wednesday-18-March/Unit-7,-East-Yard,-Camden-Lock,-NW1-8AF.

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