How To Start A Pop Up Shop: The Beginners Guide (Checklist)

Want to learn how to start a pop up shop, but don’t know where to start?

Don’t worry, everyone starts from somewhere.

That’s why In this guide, I’m going to teach you the whole process from start to finish. And I’m going to make it simple enough so that even a wet-behind-the ears beginner can do it.

Fair warning, it will require some legwork. 

If you’re used to selling physical products online, then this will be a completely new experience for you. One that will be mandatory to master before you try to get your product in other stores.

Let’s get started…

How To Find Pop-Up Shop Space To Rent

The first step in learning how to start a pop up shop is finding a place to do the pop up in the first place. In fact, this might just be the most important step, because as the adage goes “location, location, location”. In other words, where your pop up shop is located can make a huge difference in how many people even enter your shop, let alone buy. 

So if you’re just starting out and trying to set up your first pop up shop, ask yourself these questions.

Do a lot of people walk by that area?
Are people who walk by that area buyers?
What does the parking situation look like?
Is public transportation to your location reliable?

Foot traffic is a priority because it can single handedly make or break your success, so you need to analyze it from all angles. Keep in mind that foot traffic should not be the only source of all of your traffic. It should be supplemented with your own marketing efforts.

With all that said, we can’t forget about the actual location.

Depending on the kind of location you pick, you can have a completely different type of experience. Plus, it can also affect the amount of foot traffic you get as well. So let’s look through the 5 most popular options for a pop up shop.

  • The first is a vacant storefront. This is basically an empty retail space that isn’t being used. But you can call up a real estate agent to help you book the place. 
  • The second is a shopping center or mall. While you won’t get access to any huge store space, you can get access to plenty of Kiosks, booth space, or small vacant stores.
  • The third is a pop-in. Pop-ins are stores within stores. For example, having your pop-in inside of a Nordstrom or even in a hotel.
  • The fourth is Gallery or event space. You can book a vacant space and completely customize it unlike most other options. They’re designed for events, so they make for great locations.
  • The fifth and final option is the mobile space. This is when you rent a bus or truck and have your pop up inside. This option lets you travel around and not be confined to one physical area.

It’s important to note that there is no such thing as a “perfect” location. So just focus on getting a “good” one and improve as you hold new pop up shops. That’s the real secret behind becoming the next pop up shop “mogul”. 

How To Host A Pop-Up Shop Event

If you want to really learn how to start a pop up shop, you need to know how to set it up and host it. Otherwise, all you’re doing is getting an empty space for now reason.

This means the first step once you land the space is to customize it. You want people to enter your “world” as soon as they step in. So do whatever it is you need to do to make this happen. Don’t forget about layout though. You want people to look at the right things and walk in the right directions. You need to control as much of the experience as possible.

The second is to turn it into an event. As I mentioned earlier, you can’t just expect to show up and have people coming in. You have to try both online and offline marketing methods to get people in the door. For example, you may want to try to promote it with Facebook ads or by writing email newsletters if you have a list. In fact, it should be positioned as an event or as a launch. This way, you get the biggest bang for your buck since your shop won’t be around forever.

The last part is to make sure all of the technology is ready. I mostly mean your POS (point of sales) software so you can actually take orders. However, I also mean all of the supporting technology, such as Wi-Fi. If you’re using Shopify, then any relevant Shopify apps would count too. Yes, this is super basic stuff, but it’s exactly for that reason why you must nail it. Nothing is worse to make dumb mistakes that could have easily been avoided.

Examples Of Pop-Up Shops

Glossier You

When Glossier launched their fragrance, they decided to promote it with a pop up shop. The most important lessons to get from their attempt is how they positioned it.

It was an instagrammable, offline “experience”.

This included luxury-ish decorations that matched the fragrances colors. It also included interactive moments that added to the experience.

This is a huge lesson as it shows pop up shops are not just places to make sales. In fact, if you’re a successful ecommerce brand, then making sales in a pop up shop is secondary. What you really want is something that feeds your online marketing, such as UGC.

Barkshop Live

In this example, Barkshop launched a popup shop to create a “doggy experience”

Basically, if you brought your dog in, they would be allowed to wear tech-equipped vests that tracked their movements and gave you information on your dog’s favorite toys.

This gave visitors a great experience.

It also gave Barkshop a testing ground to collect tons of data from visitors. The data collected from the pop up shop was just as, if not more valuable to them than money. And that’s not including the learnings they received to go into actual retail.

Louis Vuitton x Supreme

This collaboration was huge when it happened.

In this example, they actually decided to start a mobile shop and turned their event into a tour. 

They had at least 600 people lined up to check out their mobile shop. But more importantly, this led to a ton of free PR as it directly led to them being two of the top 10 most Googled fashion brands of the year.

This is one of the best examples on how to start a pop up shop for maximum marketing value.

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