The back side of a van. The van has two doors that open to reveal a selection of footwear.

Pop-up stores are an increasingly popular connection point for brands and their customers. 

Whether in a large traditional retail space on a short-term lease, a mobile unit touring the country to showcase a product range, or even a bright pink truck that doubles as a café and creates an Instagram frenzy, pop-up shops offer a number of benefits. 

Brands are able to treat these spaces as learning labs, offering the opportunity to interact directly with consumers, get immediate feedback on products and services, and gather consumer data – an essential part of the success of digital brands.

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Luxury Garage Sale's Los Angeles pop-up at our property, Glendale Galleria

1. In-person engagement


The pop-up store format can provide an opportunity for brands to interact directly with their customers. Our Retail Development Director, Patty Hirt, says, “Pop-up stores can create a memorable experience for consumers, something that is key to developing long-term loyalty.”

Brand loyalty is perhaps nowhere more evident than among music fans, and high-profile artists ranging from Drake to Metallica have capitalized on this through opening pop-up stores to sell merchandise that would normally be sold online or at live music events. We played host to six pop-up stores for rapper, singer and songwriter Kanye West, when the artist opened pop-up boutiques for just three days in 21 cities around the world. Such is the power of his personal brand that as soon as they were announced on social media, lines began forming outside locations in preparation for the launch.

Patty Hirt added, “Musicians are using the pop-up format really well. Visitors to these stores feel like they have had an authentic experience with their favorite artist, and the stores themselves blend technology and speed of service to allow large numbers of people to pass through quickly.”

The pop-up shop format can also provide the opportunity for digital native brands to deepen engagement with their existing customer base. Children’s apparel retailer, Monica + Andy, opened a pop-up store at the Oakbrook Center to provide the opportunity for in-person engagement. The location was chosen through combining the retailer’s own data with our retail center information, identifying the area’s local population as matching the demographic of existing Monica + Andy customers who would enjoy the opportunity to interact with the brand.

2. Sensory interaction with products


Despite the rise of internet shopping, many consumers enjoy the opportunity to interact with a product before committing to purchase; something particularly important when making high value purchases or choosing apparel. Pop-up stores allow retailers to bring their product range to consumers without the costs associated with opening a permanent store, and offer the opportunity for consumers to engage directly with products.

A green and white truck is parked. The back doors are open, revealing a selection of footwear.

Luxury Italian shoe retailer, M.Gemi provides a fun example of how to bring products to a large audience without the commitment required to open a full store. The brand is touring the country in a converted gelato truck, finding a temporary home at a number of our retail centers. This allows the retailer to showcase its products and gives visitors to the truck the opportunity to try on products from the range, which are then shipped directly to their home.

The technology category is one where consumers also appreciate the opportunity to try out a product in person, and work with an expert to assist in making the right product choice - a combination of in-person engagement and sensory interaction. Electronics retailer, Best Buy, used the pop-up format to great success when it built a ‘home’ at North Point Mall in Alpharetta, GA. The house setting introduced consumers to products connected to the internet of things, allowing them to try the latest technology in a household setting and get an expert opinion on which products would be best for their own kitchen, living room, bedroom and office space.

IRL (In Real Life), an immersive retail experience featuring primarily digital brands, engaged shoppers with sensory interaction at Water Tower Place In Chicago. The first pop-up event – described by the company as its ‘First Chapter’ – brought together a carefully curated selection of digital native brands with the theme of “Home.” The choice of brands was made to help consumers create a home oasis for work, rest and play. With product ranges including furniture, lifestyle products and home accessories, consumers were able to feel, see and try products ‘In Real Life’, before purchasing – an important part of the process when buying high value goods. In April 2018 the IRL was nominated for a Glossy award in the category for Best Pop-Up/New Concept Store. The awards recognize the brands, media and technology firms that are leading the way in the evolution of the retail environment.

An image of a city at night can be seen in a brightly lit living room. A chair and display shelves are in the corner.

3. Creating a digital/social buzz

Many traditional retailers have an ongoing social media dialogue with their consumers, with peak engagement occurring around events such as sales and product launches. Online retailers have the opportunity to use an occasional physical presence to create a social media buzz, engaging with local influencers and creating a catchy hashtag to draw attention to their brand as visitors share images from their interaction with the pop-up shop format.

When the ‘Hello Kitty’ café truck rolls into town, social media notices. This bright pink truck selling treats and merchandise branded by the distinctive Japanese character makes for ideal Instagram moments. People flock to get photographs of the truck and its offerings to share on their own social media channels, raising awareness and driving even more potential customers to seek out the truck. 

High-end consignment retailer, Luxury Garage Sale uses 30 day pop-up stores to expand its geographical reach and connect with consumers outside its regular boutiques. With each pop-up only opening for a month at a time, it’s important to raise awareness of the brand’s arrival at each location. Social media plays a key role in doing this, with fashion influencers and bloggers sharing their experiences, and visitors to the stores sharing images of their purchases under #LuxuryGarageSale.

A crowd stands in front of a bright pink Hello Kitty ice cream truck. An arm reaches out of a window.

4. Acquire new customers

A temporary location can give a retailer the opportunity to attract new customers to its brand. A physical presence for an online retailer – whether as a kiosk, truck or traditional store – can give consumers the opportunity to interact with a product before moving their repeat purchases online. This is particularly useful in the fashion segment where customers enjoy being able to establish fit and quality before committing to buy a product.

The children’s apparel retailer, Monica + Andy, whose temporary store in Oak Brook provided an opportunity for customer engagement with existing customers, had a different motivation when it opened a pop-up store in our owned Water Tower Place development. They were able to bring the brand to a new customer base, including visitors to Chicago who could subsequently move to online purchasing once the relationship was established.

5. Launch a new collection, product or service

When considering the purchase of a new product or service, customers are always keen to ‘try before they buy’. Pop-up retail allows a brand to place itself directly in front of consumers for firsthand consideration, offering them the sensory and in-person interaction that consumers often miss with online-only retailers. A pop-up can also be useful in creating the previously mentioned social media buzz around a new product. Equally the temporary format allows brands to get valuable feedback directly from consumers that can be used to inform product updates and marketing plans.

Dyson regularly uses pop-up temporary pop up shops to launch its new products – most recently its supersonic hairdryer. Brand ambassadors are on hand to demonstrate the products and allow consumers to try them out for themselves.

With the variety of formats available, in terms of both style and short-term leasing options, pop-up shops can provide opportunities to acquire new customers, interact with your existing client base, and create better levels of brand engagement, without many of the costs and risks associated with opening a permanent retail space. 

Get in touch to find out how we can help you launch your next pop-up store.