Retailers are perpetually looking for new and effective ways to increase their sales and hence profitability. One of the trendier methods is the use of a “pop-up shop.”

A pop-up retail space is a temporary location with a relatively short life span of between several days or multiple weeks. The products offered tend to be similar or in support of some time related events such as back to school, Halloween, Christmas, opening of the salmon season, opening of the pheasant hunting season, Fathers’ Day or similar events.

The pop-up shop is temporary housing and can be a rented space, sidewalk tables and hang rails or even a tent. The atmosphere is usually festive and replete with bargains, necessities or other impulse or need centered appeal. 

These pop-ups can generate substantial sales and gross profit dollars in very little time. They also garner considerable excitement and boosting of one’s reputation and follow up sales. The pop-up shop also allows a retailer to experiment with products, promotions or seasonal brands without committing to a long-term lease.

Pop-up shops are not new

You might say, “Wow, what a great new idea with low cost and potentially high margin dollars!” In fact, the idea is not new and has been around for hundreds of years. Throughout history, vendors have used such pop-ups to sell festival foods, holiday gifts or ornaments, religious icons and apparel or food items such as farmers markets.

Such pop-up stores are all around us . . . just take a look. The Cabela’s store in Mitchell, South Dakota sets up big hunting displays outside their store for the opening of pheasant season. Many ski retailers have their giant tent ski sale for a long weekend offering deep discounts and attractive off-price merchandise.

In my own case, each August we had our pre-season ski sale in the parking lot with about 3,000 square foot tent. Yes, we sold a lot of skiing merchandise but also sold a massive amount of fishing, hunting, footwear and apparel merchandise. The massive three day event netted us approximately $250,000 in sales.

Aside from the gross margin dollars we harvested, even better, the annual event boosted our reputation and consumer following. We moved so much inventory, that we bought year around for the event. Our consumers loved it.

I think this pop-up retailing is a superior method of enhancing your sales, profits and reputation. The events can be short lived and mobile, being set up in any location where there is ample foot traffic and parking. You can also enhance the event’s appeal by having your vendor reps participate by supplying you with specially priced inventory, demonstrations and promotional funds.

Lastly, you can embellish the fun and excitement by having other vendors offer their non-competing wares at your temporary location. Items such as food, balloons and non-related merchandise will add a bit more sizzle to your temp store.

A note of caution: whatever you put in your pop-up, do so with aggressive amounts and prices. Work with your vendors to get very sharp pricing or closeouts. Think big, think short lived and be prepared to harvest lots of profits!