MELBOURNE designers are turning to unconventional pop-up stores – stores that literally “pop up”- as launching pads into the Australian clothing market.
Pop-up stores or pop-up retail, do just what their names imply. These stores appear with little or no notice, build buzz around the products they pitch and then disappear as suddenly as they came. For these stores, the aim of the game is not to stay in business but quite the opposite – to stay out of business.
Operating purely on the premise of surprise and novelty, pop-up stores are quickly becoming known for their unique and quirky use of space and for providing an “out-of-store” experience.
Pop-up stores’ finite life-span compel consumers to give into that “impulse buy”, something a large chain store may struggle to do without the aid of a clearance sale. In fact, pop-up stores rarely resort to reducing prices and instead have the luxury of relying on exclusivity and rapid hype as their drawcards.
Though pop-up retail in Australia remains in its infancy, retailers with creative flair have begun to realise its potential. Here in Melbourne, two friends set up a pop-up store in an unused Fitzroy boutique that was opened for a mere three days. The only advertising used was an email sent to 3,000 subscribers on a fashion website. The aptly named store “Kumi and Ayumi’s Excellent Adventure” sold the results of their recent shopping spree from Tokyo. Although none of the items sold were discounted, the store sold out and the pair made thousands.
Emerging designers are also taking advantage of pop-up retail to generate interest around underground brand names. Wanting to create a stir over her brand “Habbot”, shoe designer Annie Abbot opened a pop-up store in Bourke Street Mall, positioning her impromptu shoe gallery alongside established stores such as Zimmerman and Lisa Ho.
“We wanted to create excitement around the brand. We brought in a mural and a sculpture and that gave us a good way to create that excitement and the temporary store gave a sense of urgency,” Annie says.
“I wanted it to be interesting, sort of like a gallery and there’s a chance to check out our whole range.”
Complete with a sculpture of a giraffe and shoes dangling on red coil from the ceiling, Abbot believes the pop-up store has allowed her to reach consumers on a personal and direct level.
“Traffic in the stores has been good, we’re hitting above our target traffic. And I have a lot of conversation with customers that I otherwise would not be able to have.”
Opened last month, Abbot’s pop-up store is abiding by the mentality of “here for a good time, not for a long time” and will close mid-October*.
*[Updated 10/10/2011] Habbot is now closed.