Pop up shops: The beginner’s guide

Wondering if you can really make that pop up shop idea work? We’ve got some top tips and resources that’ll get you started and well on your way to running your own pop up venture in no time. Take a look, and don’t forget to contact us if you need any help finding a venue – that’s what we’re here for!

Do your research. This should always be the first step. Market research will tell you how many people might be interested in your product, and what kind of people they are. This will inform everything – from branding to location. You should also research the history of pop-ups in your area. Have they been successful? What’s the general health of the retail scene in your target location? How can you offer a distinctive experience to offer something missing from neighbouring permanent shops? A great pop up shop might offer personalised customer service, exclusive products and special offers or something new for the location.

Think about why you’re doing it. Temporary retail spaces have all sorts of uses. Maybe you’re testing the popularity of a new product, selling something that’s time-sensitive, promoting your existing brand – or maybe you just want to try something new. There’s no wrong reason to do it – just make sure you know what it is, and everything you want to get out of your venture.

Set your goals. Once you know why you’re setting up a pop up shop, you need a goal, something that will indicate that you’ve been successful. Maybe you want to make money, sell a certain number of units, or gather data on your potential customer base. Maybe you just want to stay open for a few weeks, test the water and see if your business can work in a high street location.

Get a business plan together. A business plan is essential, even for a short-term venture. It covers everything from budgeting, staffing and financial projections to marketing and demographics. If you already run your own company, you probably know what this entails; if not, have a go at creating one, based around your pop up venture.

Find a venue. Alright, so we’re biased – but finding a suitable venue for your pop up shop or project can be hard work, and we recommend hiring somebody to help you if your budget allows. A property consultant like Popupspace can help you with everything from finding a property and negotiating hire, to drafting a short term lease and advising on planning and licensing issues. Think about everything you need from a venue before you start searching – size, location, capacity, internet connection, licensing, services available, customisation and branding options – and split them into must-haves and would-be-nice-to-haves. This will make it a lot easier for you or your consultant to target the right venues. When approaching landlords and property agents about a property you’ve spotted, consider their priorities. A short summary of your brand and business, and the proposed activity, will be of benefit but a potential landlord will also want a concrete proposal including your proposed hire dates and rent offer.

Get insured. Most landlords will insist that you have your own insurance cover for your pop up shop (check your draft lease if in doubt). Pop Up Insurance provides comprehensive cover on a short term basis for pop up shops and includes protection for Public Liability, Products Liability, Employer’s Liability, Trade Contents/Stock, Accidental Damage and Business Interruption.

Start marketing. Your market research and business plan should be enough to tell you how and where to market your pop up – whether it’s flyers and adverts in the local paper, or an Instagram hashtag and an online giveaway. Don’t forget to write up a press release about your pop-up and send it to newspapers and magazines – local papers in particular are often actively looking for things to write about, so you can easily get some press into the right hands quickly!

Open your shop! If you’ve planned it, advertised it and budgeted it, your shop should be a resounding success.

Further reading

Here are some great resources on launching your own pop-up shop – do lots of reading, and you’ll be ready for anything.

The Ultimate Guide to Pop-Up Shops – An incredibly comprehensive guide by Shopify, covering everything from concept to opening day.
Top tips on starting up a pop-up shop – A great interview by Guardian Small Business, with small business owners from around the UK.
Set up a pop-up shop – This small business owner’s guide is written by NI BUsiness Info, for those in Northern Ireland, but the practical tips offered apply to anybody, wherever you are.

Do you have any tips on launching your own pop-up shop? Let us know at @popupspaceuk!

This entry was posted in pop up shops, small business. Bookmark the permalink.