A pop-up business, whether it’s a shop, gallery, exhibition, workshop space, or something else, is a great way to find new markets and expand your brand. A pop-up shop is a temporary venue which allows you to create a lasting impression on potential customers, whilst simultaneously creating an atmosphere of urgency around what you have to offer. By working from a temporary space, you are presenting the idea that what you’re offering is limited, and this can be a big drive in customer interest.
Why you should consider a pop-up space for your business
There is a number of reasons you should consider using a pop-up space:
- By coming offline, you’re given the chance to engage with new customers and audience members; people who wouldn’t normally find you online. Going to where your customers are rather than hoping they’ll find you can really push your brand awareness.
- If you’re trying to sell a new product – an eco-friendly alternative to an existing product for example – being face to face with customers can be a hugely effective way to prove the value of what you’re selling.
- Being there to talk customers through what you’re selling and why it benefits them is something that is far more difficult to communicate online, and is a great way to gain new customers.
- Pop-ups are a great way to test new areas and markets whilst risking far less financially than you would if you decided to set up a permanent physical location.
- Using temporary venues can help you find where best benefits you, both financially and in terms of raising your profile.
Engaging with the community
Pop-ups are a great way to educate new customers on what it is you offer and pop-ups such as galleries or workshop spaces can really help you to engage with the community. By creating a cultural hotspot within a community, not only do you get the chance to further your brand and increase your business, you also have the opportunity to give back to the community and bring a diversity to the high street. Even creating a space from which you sell new prints, crafts, art supplies, etc. can help the local community to expand their culture sector and bring growth to that area. Just be sure to check that you are choosing a location that is suitable for this type of pop-up.
Finding the best location
Pop-up businesses can make use of a variety of spaces; whether you take on an empty shop, set up within an already established venue (such as a shop or bar), use a stall or street kiosk, or find another creative use of space. Finding the right location is key in creating a successful business.
Do your research around the local area and look firstly for gaps in the market, and what other businesses are operating nearby.
Does your business fit in with the neighbourhood? Are there public transport links nearby?
Try talking to locals as well and see what they feel is missing from their area; putting yourself in the right location can make or break your pop-up business.
Pop-ups in Dorset
Dorset is a county full of a variety of empty spaces that are perfect for pop-up businesses. A few good examples of how Dorset supports pop-up businesses include:
A project known as Pop-up Poole was run by the Borough of Poole and The New Leaf Company, and supported more than 80 start up businesses.
The Dolphin Shopping centre in Poole also lets out empty shop space as part of their Eco Hub initiative; the local community are welcome to run activities relating to sustainable practice and wellbeing and utilize the space throughout the year. Find out more here.
Brewery Square is a vibrant addition to the heart of Dorchester with a range of pop-up shops on display throughout the year. Read more about their retail opportunities here.
As well as this, many of the museums and churches in Dorset encourage people to run markets or put stands inside their spaces in order to promote the work of locals.
An example of a pop-up shop in action is Ink and Page set up by Kim and David Squirrell in Bridport. They run regular art and craft workshops as well as selling handmade products.
All these things are important to consider when setting up your pop-up business. Think about what would be best for your business, and how you can repeat this process to get as much as you can out of it.
A one-off pop-up is fine, but trying several different locations and spaces can really help you learn and expand. The idea of a pop-up is to help your business grow; with some careful planning, you can make sure that happens.
Read more about how to start your pop-up shop project in our next chapter Making a plan
Illustration by Bridie Cheeseman