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A beginner’s guide to pop-up shops

Pop-ups – you may have seen the term bandied around for a while, but just what are they? No, we’re not talking about the annoying little windows that come up on certain websites telling you that you’ve won a million pounds, we’re talking about pop-up SHOPS, or flash retailing – shops which are, quite literally, here today and gone tomorrow.

When did they start?

Pop-ups have been around since about 1999, with their roots in a Japanese retail movement. A shop would produce a limited-edition product, advertise it at very short notice, and once the stock was all gone – in days, or even hours – the shop would be shut down. This model caught on in America, where publicity for the shop would grow though the internet or word of mouth, and eventually came to the UK. Now it’s so established that there’s an entire pop-up development in Shoreditch – Boxpark, with dozens of pop-up shops forming a temporary shopping centre (though much cooler than your typical bog-standard one, of course).

What kind of stuff do they do?

‘Pop-up’ in its present incarnation covers a whole range of temporary shops – from ‘pop-up’ nail bars in high-street stores to smaller branches of bigger shops that might be around for a year or two. Some pop-ups are seasonal, only around for winter or summer, while some just might be a one-off sale by a big brand. And of course, plenty are small businesses in interesting venues, such as an existing shop or a building that doesn’t offer traditional leases.

Why pop-ups?

There are lots of advantages to pop-ups. You can move your business around, try out different locations, and you’re not constrained by giant rents. It’s no wonder pop-ups are becoming so pop-upular in London.

Stay tuned this week as we delve more into the world of the pop-up – from providing you with a checklist of things you need to do to start your own, to looking at the strangest places people have started pop-ups.


Need a small business idea? Check out our article on the questions you should ask yourself here.