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1.  Pop-up shops started in about 2004

2.  They were temporary and innovative structures made by the world’s top brands as a marketing ploy

3.  This means that the whole structure popped up – not just the use – the structures were high budget

4.  The name ‘pop-up’ has excited communities since and its name is applied to more than its original meaning

5.  It is now used to discuss any temporary shop

6.  ‘Renew Newcastle’ was a community enterprise to resuscitate retail streets in Newcastle, Australia

7.  The not for profit, Renew Newcastle organisation took head leases over vacant shops and then coordinated short-term leases to start-up businesses, thus creating social capital, economic development and place activation

8.  The City of Fremantle owns several buildings in its CBD – it has given head leases to Business Foundations

9.  Business Foundations coordinate temporary uses in the shops with their start-up-business clients

How are they different?

Pop-up shops

Activating vacancies

High budget

Low budget

The structure pops up

The use pops up

Branding strategy

Activation strategy

Undertaken by experienced, major retailers

Entry-level retailers

Priority is high design

Priority is minimising vacancies

How is it done?

Pop-up shops

 Activating vacancies

Secure environment so big teams and budgets can plan it as an event

Short windows of opportunity

Pop-up shops usually are owned lock, stock and barrel by the retailer and can be transported around the country on a truck

An executive will have to take a head lease over the vacancy, including legal documents, a lease, insurances and a rental payment

The shops then pop-up in retail places: laneways, squares …

The executive provides short term leases to retailers

(Tables are ©2012-13 A Beautiful City)

This conversation is to help commercial district managers by making community requests for POP-UP RETAIL clearer. 

What is sometimes demanded is PLACE ACTIVATION.

Super, high-design pop-up retail is unlikely to eventuate in these circumstances becasuse of budget, experience of the operator, and security (time) constraints.

A hybrid of high-design pop-up retail and place activation is possible, but requires a high level of curation (and more time) from the executive who manages the space.

If the local government or its business community wants place activation in vacancies, this is what it could do:

a.  Fund the personnel, internally or externally, to discuss the opportunity with landlords who have vacant shops.

b.  A legal document, building insurance, public liability insurance and some rent are possible costs to to take control of the shop

c.  Maintain a database of potential retailers and network with them!

d.  Coordinate the sub-leases with retailers, their fit-out, plus participate in their marketing and measuring (of their success)

Is this recommended?

Arguments for and against



Enrols community support

Fernickety, time consuming and expensive

Activates space

Place activation in retail places affects the retailers already there.  Therefore, they ought to be enrolled into the conversational at the outset.

Should retailers frequently convene in as a business network, it will soon be apparent if place activation is a high priority for them.  If it is, then the realities of the time and costs of doing this can be discussed.

It is my experience that retailers in a precinct do not want to fund a place activation strategy in privately held properties.  Instead, they will want to facilitate higher-quality and faster leasing of the spaces to the best uses.

So, what do you think?

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