How to Pick the Perfect Location
Once you’ve got your goals, budget, and key outcomes decided on for your pop-up, you’re all set to start looking at a potential location for where you can set-up shop. Bear in mind that finding temporary commercial real-estate used to be a lot more difficult to find, but with more and more property owners and real estate agents trusting and understanding the true value of a pop-up to their location, there are increasingly more and more options ‘popping-up’ all the time.
But before we get started on where to look, we’ll start by giving you an idea of what kind of options you have.
Types of Location for Pop-Ups
1. A Store-Within-a-Store
This is an ideal situation for someone just starting their journey in retail. Not only does it come with the potential of built-in foot-traffic, loyal clientele, and the ability to acquaint your target demographic with your brand, but it also helps the store owner offset their biggest expense, rent.
Start by doing some research and finding stores that best compliment your brand and also overlap when it comes to lifestyle messages, target demographics, and happen to be situated where you'd like your own boutique store to be one day.
2. Gallery or Event Space
Galleries and event spaces are a fantastic pop-up shop venue because of their open concept floors and minimalistic set-up. They can be very inviting and carry an elegance that is great for brands in women's fashion, jewellery, or other high-end apparel.
A great way to get started is to take a look at upcoming events and seeing if there are any booths available. Make sure to ask past participants about their experience and how you can get the most out of doing a pop-up there.
3. Shopping Center or Mall
For many consumer brands, the mall symbolizes the holy grail of retail with its massive amounts of foot-traffic and exposure. It's also a stamp of credibility and allows you to interact with the everyday consumer in hopes of becoming a household brand that they turn to again and again. But, how exactly are you going to "pop-up" in a mall?
Generally, you’ll have two options. You can go with renting a kiosk or booth space that allows you to set up shop right in the middle of the action, or you can look at vacant in-line stores that the shopping center may reserve just for pop ups or has had a hard time renting out for a long time period.
4. Vacant Street Level Retail Space
Imagine having your very own thriving street level retail space, it doesn't get much better than that when you're looking to build out your brand. Though perhaps a distant reality for many smaller ecommerce store owners, it's certainly a possibility. In essence, a vacant commercial property that may typically be used for pop up stores or the commercial real-estate agent is having trouble selling and so will settle for more short-term engagements are ideal for starting with.
For the true sense of the word “pop-up shop,” the last option of vacant street level space is usually the most popular. Now that you’ve got a grasp on the type of locations you can be on the look-out for, next-up we’ll cover where exactly you can look for temporary retail space.
Where to Look for Pop-Up Spaces?
The thrill of the hunt to find that perfect pop-up space is much like finding and securing your dream home, it comes with its own headaches, but when you find the perfect space for your brand and shop, it’s all worth it.
Though pop-ups are embraced by brands large and small, the real-estate industry isn’t exactly known for it’s quick adoption of cutting edge technology. Which is why, here, we’ll mention some traditional and some digital tools you can take advantage of to get started on your hunt for that perfect pop-up space.
Some of the tactics you can employ in your hunt include:
- Ask around and find out how other store owners found their space
- Find referrals for trustworthy real-estate agents
- Walk around ideal destinations and contact property owners directly
- Look in the classified section of your print newspaper
- Look at online classified sites like Craigslist and Kijjiji
But perhaps the most easiest way to find space is through the growing pop-up space marketplaces like:
- thisopenspace (North America)
- The Storefront (North America)
- We Are Pop Up (UK)
- Bulletin (US)
- B8ta (US)
Once you’ve done some initial list of potential locations, next-up, you’ll want to start calling and making appointments for viewings. But before you go, make sure you know what things to scout for when checking out possible locations, something we’ll cover next.
What to Look for in a Pop-Up Location?
Now when it comes to scouting a possible location for your pop-up shop, there’s two main category of things you’ll want to keep in mind, the exterior and the interior. Here are some questions you’ll want to keep on hand.
- What is the potential target market foot-traffic in the area?
- Who are the other notable retailers and consumables in the area and are they complementary?
- Are there events or community gatherings taking place in the vicinity?
- Is the retail space in a nondescript building with a small entrance sign, or does the building have a grand entrance with a large logo?
- What’s the cleanliness level like?
- Is there parking nearby?
- Is the location accessible by public transit?
- Is there a large window that you can dress up for a display?
- Is there back stock space?
- What does the lighting communicate? Can lights be dimmed or alternative lamps and lighting brought in?
- Is there a camera to prevent theft and shrinkage? If not, what other loss-prevention tactics can be made available?
- Is there Wi-Fi to carry out credit card transactions with your POS solution? Can it be made available to customers?
- Is there a sink and a washroom?
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but simply the necessities you’ll need to successfully run a pop-up, make sure you come prepared with additional items or questions specific to your location and circumstance. Once you’ve made your pick, up next, we’re going to discuss how to close the deal with the property owner or real estate agent.
How to Close the Deal on Your Pop-Up Location
It's important to demonstrate to property managers and real estate agents that you've done your homework and that you have your bases covered. Once you get them on the phone or drop in to see them in person, you should have the following list of questions ready to ask upfront in order to get a complete understanding of what you’re getting into:
- What is the rental cost?
- What is included in the rental cost?
- Are there any additional utility costs?
- What is the layout of the space?
- What are the specific dimensions of the ceiling, windows, doors, counters, pillars...etc?
- Can the space be modified?
- Who is liable for what?
- Is there internet or WiFi?
- Will you need insurance?
- What is the deposit required to secure the venue?
- What is the average foot traffic you can expect?
Once you’ve got those questions out of the way, next up, you’ll want to figure out whether you’ll be signing a lease, license or having to apply for a permit.
Now, all that might sound a bit intimidating but before you run away from the idea of offline selling because of some technical and legal jargon, let’s break down what each of these three types of agreements can mean for you.
Under a lease, the person using the stated land is considered a tenant, and given exclusive possession for the duration of the time agreed upon, otherwise known as the “term” of the lease. The “terms” will also include what you’ll be able to do the space when it comes to modifications, hours of operation and several of the other key aspects discussed above, including rent, utilities...etc.
This gives legal authority to you, the licensee, to use the owner or licensor’s asset, without which you using it would be unlawful. These are generally given out for more short-term occupants but comes with generally a more limited arrangement and does not guarantee exclusive use of the property.
Each region will have its own regulations, so based on what you’re intending to do, you’ll want to make sure you’re within the bounds of the law. For example, many cities require you to have a permit to sell food and alcohol.
Once you’ve done your homework and assessed whether a potential location is a good fit or not, most likely, the next step is to actually go out and see the place in person during the hours the pop-up will run. Make sure to do this multiple times throughout the week at different times of the day. From there, once you've got your mind made, request to see the lease agreement.
But before you sign anything, take a few days to thoroughly review the agreement, or better yet, have a legal professional take a look to mitigate liabilities and make sure there aren’t any apparent shortcomings in the deal. However, if the price is right, the agreement works with your specifications, and the location is perfect for your goals, then you’ll want to put down the initial deposit to secure the venue and start planning how you're going to make the pop-up a success.
Once you’ve signed, be sure to give yourself a pat on the back and congratulate yourself on your very first pop-up space. Up next we’ll be looking at some DIY retail design tips to help you get started and keep your pop-up shop stick to your budget.