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How to Open an Arts and Crafts Retail Pop-Up Store

Opening a Short-Term Retail Store


Woman giving credit card to a sales clerk
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A pop-up shop is a short-term retail store that appears seemingly out of nowhere, quickly drawing in customers, and then disappears when the optimal selling season is over. You'll see large retailers such as Target, Saks and Macy's incorporating pop-ups in their main retail store to briefly promote trendy events, such as merchandise tied to a movie premier, special event or designer. Pop up stores can also briefly set up shop in a vacant storefront in a mall or other type of shopping center.

Using pop-ups shops are a great way for artists and crafters to have a retail store presence during major selling periods during the year without the hassle of maintaining a full time lease. It's a win-win as mall and shopping center management don't like to have vacant storefronts and under the right circumstances will welcome pop-ups with open arms.

Sounds like a plan for your arts and crafts business? This article gives tips for setting up your own pop-up retail store.

Line Up Your Fellow Arts and Crafts Vendors

Your first step is to test the waters and see if you can secure enough inventories to fill a pop-up retail store. This will probably mean soliciting other artists and crafters to join in your retail pop-up venture.

Belonging to a local craft guild is an excellent way to networking with other artists and crafters. Lacking that, take out an ad in the local newspaper with a call for entries. If you belong to any online social networks, that's another place to drum up some interest.

Make Sure Your Arts and Crafts Pop-Up Retail Store Is Diverse

Make sure that you aim for a variety of artists and crafters so that each seller will be unique and not competing with other vendors in your pop-up retail store. To attract as wide an audience as possible, make sure you have vendors from as many arts and crafts disciplines as possible.

As an observer I like going to any retail store that I think will be interesting. I'm fussier if I'm a buyer. If a retail store is focusing on children's clothing or jewelry (two things I have no interest in buying) I'm not going to waste my time. The whole point here to make sales. Attract as many customers as possible by having a wide selection from which to purchase.

Find An Empty Storefront With High Traffic

A close second in importance is finding the storefront and negotiating terms with the property owner. Locating a storefront that is the perfect size when considering your amount of available inventory is the cornerstone of your pop-up strategy. Keep in mind that most retail management may charge a premium of at least 50% for your short-term lease. That premium increases a $2,000 lease to $3,000.

Start by strolling around your target areas, noting vacant storefronts and recording leasing contact information. Prioritize your picks in order of suitability and start making telephone calls! Then evaluate cost versus location and hammer out your lease terms. Try to afford having to pay common area maintenance (CAM) if possible.

The pop-up shop doesn't have to actually be inside. Check out this slideshow from BusinessWeek.com showing the life of a on-the-road pop-up shop located in two shipping containers that "popped up" in various locations over eight weeks to show off the vendor's apparel. Consider locating your pop-up store in the parking lot of a location with high traffic using a technique similar to the slideshow.

Next, find out how to manage your pop up shop from avoiding the craft mall atmosphere to renting out space to other artists and crafters.

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